Basic Occasions and Rubrics for Bell-Ringing
in the Russian Tradition

The meaning of the technical terms for ringing patterns can be found here.

Great or Daily,
with or without
Presanctified Liturgy
(Optina Typikon)

Traditions vary. Some say that daily Vespers is announced with 12 strikes of the main bell; others say to peal a zvon with all but the largest bell on Polyelei days, and all but the largest two bells on ordinary days. The same rules apply when Presanctified is served, but here, for 'It Is Truly Meet', the bells are not rung. For Great Vespers, use all the bells.

All-Night Vigil

Blagovest is rung before the service and is immediately followed by trezvon. Dvuzvon at the beginning of the reading of the Six Psalms or just before it. Immediately before the reading of the Gospel, zvon. During the Magnificat the bell is struck nine times. At the conclusion of the Vigil, trezvon.

Divine Liturgy

Blagovest is rung at the appointed time and ceases at the beginning of the Hours. At the end of the 6th hour, trezvon. At the Creed, which consists of 12 parts, the bell is struck 12 times in a unhurried fashion as a proclamation of the faith and to inform Christians who are absent that the time of the Consecration of the Holy Gifts approaches (some traditions call for this 12-fold ring at "It is meet and right" instead). After the Liturgy, trezvon on all bells.

Divine Liturgy

The blagovest is sounded at appointed time. As the Hierarch approaches the temple, all the bells are rung. When the Hierarch enters the temple, the ringing stops and blagovest is resumed until the beginning of the vesting of the Hierarch. At the beginning of the Sixth Hour, trezvon, unless there is an ordination to the rank of reader or to the subdiaconate, in which case the trezvon is sounded after the Bishop's prayers before the Divine Liturgy. The rest as at any Divine Liturgy.

Lenten and Royal Hours

Before the Hours during Great Lent and at Royal Hours [i.e., before the First Hour] the bell is struck once; at the Third Hour, the bell three times, at the 6th, six times, and at the 9th, nine times.

Vespers of
Great Friday

At the bringing out of the Shroud and before the procession around the church, perebor, followed immediately by trezvon.


At the carrying out of the deceased from the temple for burial, perebor. There is no trezvon after this bell.

Molieben with
Blessing of Water

When the cross is immersed into the water, a short trezvon.


Blagovest and short zvon before the service. Solemn celebratory zvon on all bells at the exit of the newlyweds from church after the ceremony. It goes on the whole time the young couple is greeted by their friends and relatives at the threshold of the church. Their departure by car is accompanied with a zvon as well.

Civil Alarms

When enemies are approaching, fire has broken out, and other civil emergencies.


÷Adapted from Archpriest Rostislav Gan's explanations of the Divine services, translated by Rev. Victor and Subdeacon Kirill Sokolov of Holy Trinity Cathedral, San Francisco, and supplemented from the Optina Typikon and our conversations with living bell masters. Until 1999, Holy Trinity has had one of the only two sets of Russian bells in the Western Hemisphere. As of the end of 2001, there are almost 40.

For some further discussion of the Orthodox rubrical traditions, see "On bells and their ringing" at Holy Trinity's website.