Programming error on church bells gives Charlottetown early wake-up call

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Programming error on church bells gives Charlottetown early wake-up call

Light sleepers in downtown Charlottetown were surprised Friday and Saturday morning to hear the bells of St. Dunstan's ringing at first light.

The bells started ringing at 5 a.m.

A programming error in the bell tower's clock had the bells ringing in the a.m. rather than the intended p.m. 

"Every now and then the internal clock goes kaflooey and this is what happens," said basilica musical director Leo Marchildon.

What was supposed to be a call to worship shortly before 5 p.m. turned into more of a wake-up call.

"I had to laugh though because when I heard the news about this today, I thought to myself, when we initiated the bells last year, some of the people's comments were, 'Can't they be louder? We can't hear them really strongly,'" said Marchildon.

"I'm sure at five in the morning, they were heard plenty loud enough."

Internal clock needed adjusting

The internal clock for the bells is inside the church organ and when set, Marchildon said, they made sure they had the date and time right but never realized they also had to check the a.m.and p.m. selection. 

"This is only a year old for us, this technology, so we're still, as these new little glitches happen, we're on a learning curve," he said.

"Now that we understand to pay attention to that a.m./p.m. designation this won't happen again." 

It's will soon be one year since the bells were refurbished and placed back up in the bell tower at St. Dunstan's.

The restoration was part of a Canada 150 project and the refurbished bells first chimed on July 1 in 2017. 

"It's become a part of the acoustic landscape now of downtown Charlottetown," Marchildon said.

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