The Bell Ringer Story (Partial)

These pages share a story summary of the first part of The Bell Ringer, with broad-stroke narrative movement that shows where twelve of the twenty-four songs of the album actually come into play. The deeper, more detailed story has been written by Orullian as a full-fledged novel, and has been submitted to several major New York publishers. The novel will incorporate the other twelve songs that are planned as part of the double CD, as well as unrevealed plot twists, characters, and motivations. 

Out of money. Out of prospects. And out of hope, if he was honest, the man answered a help-wanted ad from one of those small yellow papers--the local kind with impossibly small print. He was a drifter--not of his own choosing, and he didn't think of himself that way--but life had asked her price, and she's not one to dicker. 

The ad led him down a narrow alley. Every city had one. Not overly dirty. But one you'd never find if you weren't looking for it. No need for a house number, though, he just pushed in at the only door with a light--a bare bulb buzzing weakly against the alley-gloom. A forgotten place. Suited him fine. 

The Bell Ringer Lyrics

Every city holds an office

Down an alley with a single light

An old man sits there

Every Christmas night

Through his smile, the watches the door

For men of broken dreams

Bearing up their doubt he sends them

Out to share our burdens

And with it bear the cold

A last chance, the only one left to them

Indifference aches on through them

But the man he knows the simple magic in that chime

Just like the thought of sleighs in flight

As they sail high against the winter night

They speed out on their way

With the hope no dream is ever lost

It's like they're answering every childhood prayer

The ones just for themselves

The ones they've no strength to share

This chime, it calls out loud

This chime, you know it is their song

So listen to the invitation

The bell man's at his station

Despite his fragile heart

Do you hear him, soft words tell his story

Not for gain or glory,

Just to fill a pot with coins like faith he thought he'd lost

And the chime it beats out strong

From a hand that wants to know

If there are any left who hear its song

Up and down the boulevard

On most any street

Winter bells return your memories

Let the echo of that chime

Ring forward now

And find you in their simple sharing grace

The man donned the Santa suit the old man in the office had given him, and headed out to his assigned corner to ring his bell. He'd passed a thousand bell ringers in his day. Never game them a second thought. With the bite of the cold now on him, a little sympathy crept into his thoughts. Sympathy for the cold bell-ringers beared, but also the indifference they met. 

Like good kings and jolly old elves, he'd stand a watch on this silent, lonely night, for all the good it might do.

Jolly Old Wenceslas (Instrumental)

He hadn't been there long before a woman came upon him. She had a mild look about her. A look that told of wakeful nights when money was low and bad news scratched at the door. But inside the look she wore there was something more. Something strong.

Life had put the screws to her, the way it had to him. He knew from screws. But it hadn't gotten the best of her. She'd fared a tad better than he had at it all. Still, he wouldn't ask her for a thin dime. Life had taken too much already. He rang his bell for her more as a thank you than a petition.

Hope in a Coin Lyrics

As the woman eventually walked on, the man stared after her in admiration. Watching her go, it occurred to him that going all the way back to the first Christmas there'd been women of particular mettle. All those mothers whose male babes had been put to death by a bad king. It chilled him through just to ponder.

Street Kid (Instrumental)

 She sees him standing there 

Inviting her to sacrifice 

A coin that means a little more 

To one who has no coin to share 

His tired eyes all worn with care 

But her choices have left her bare  

 

Can she find 

A lone coin    

She can spare 

 

Winter's chill is biting and it's fright'ning 

As the crowd goes by 

She wonders if tomorrow 

There'll be snowy skies 

Her coat thread-bare 

It's Heaven's dare  

 

The bell ringer's eyes, they patiently wait 

No judgment there, like one accepting his fate 

He shakes his head, letting her know 

It's too much to ask, of one whose fallen so low 

Who is this man, seeing her pain 

Doesn't he ring his bell for gain? 

   

And then she knows, if she can find 

A single coin to answer his chime 

The heart it might change isn't out of her sight 

It's standing right here on this winter's night  

And so she stands firm, and gives him a nod 

Tonight she will be the face of God 

 

'Cause she believes that one more coin will help  

To give a man a little hope 

And she has strength so she will do without 

The thing she thought she had to hold 

She drops her coin then smiles to herself  

 And listens to the bell man ring 

Reminding her what Christmas is about 

The story of it ringing onward 

 

His fateful chime 

She heard this time 

 

Cause she believes that one more coin will help  

To give a man a little hope 

And she has strength so she will do without 

The thing she thought she had to hold 

She drops her coin then smiles to herself  

 And listens to the bell man ring 

Reminding her what Christmas is about 

The story of it ringing onward 

But the hard iron of a sword had taken a new form in this enlightened age. Or maybe it was an old form. Whatever the case, being down in the mouth still usually had everything to do not having two nickles to rub together and no place to retreat from the cold. 

That was a bad prospect for anyone. But the bell ringer had enough years behind him to know it took a different kind of toll on a kid. The cold was a constant reminder you had no home. And home meant more than a roof. It was a kind of safety every child had a right to. Or so he believed. And that was a belief hard won through personal experience. Still, the world mostly didn't care what he believed.

And so there was only one possible defense against homelessness for a kid. At least, as far as the bell ringer was concerned, anyways. And that knowledge would be tested when a street kid happened by him that Christmas Eve.

Street Kid Part 2 Lyrics

After sharing with the boy the one bit of wisdom he thought he might possess, the bell ringer thought just maybe his words had helped the kid. But it didn't stop him from wishing the lad a better place to be on a cold winter night, let alone this night. It was a night memorialized by the greatest artists--musicians, dancers--weaving dreams for us to share. Kids should get to share those dreams. All kids.

It was enough to keep him ringing his bell a bit longer, despite the dire circumstances all around him. So he rang on, like a soldier taking one last order. One not for himself, but for those his service might possibly save.

When night had come and he stood in the cold 

The bell man could see those who make cold their home      

No one should feel of indifference, be shunned 

But the child who came now, had learned them far too young 

 

His eyes held a question: Why should he give 

The streets were each day, a fight just to live 

What did a bell man know of it, a winter time clown 

Then the bell man stopped ringing, and he put his bell down 

 

Buried in memory, he'd lived on the streets 

He huddled near drain pipes, to savor their heat 

It ached deep inside him, the scars of the road 

He'd nothing to give the kid, maybe lighten load, sharing  

 

 When the hurt comes down and I can't breathe 

I look to the sky  

Where stars suggest that I believe 

And I feel something inside, 

 Knowing these same stars are those that were seen

That first Christmas Eve 

And I feel better about me 

 

The kid stared back, his anger was gone 

The bell man could tell few did ever respond 

He kid dug through his pockets, searching for change 

The bell man beat him to it, and unclasped the chain 

His bucket's lid he removed and invited the boy 

To take what he needed  

And remember star-filled skies    

 

The kid's eyes held questions: How could he take 

The money being offered was for all of their sakes 

What did he know about it, a kid from the street 

But the bell man said nothing more, and sank from his feet 

 

He sat on the ground there, right down in the snow 

Too tired to stand more, and nowhere to go 

Of his bell he'd grown weary, it was taking a toll 

A moment, a step, and the street kid bent low, saying 

 

 When the hurt comes down and I can't breathe 

I look to the sky

Where stars suggest that I believe 

And I feel something inside, knowing these 

Same stars are those that were seen

That first Christmas Eve 

And I feel better about me 

 

His eyes held a question: Would the bell man stand up 

Were words and some memories going to be quite enough 

Kids like him needed bell men like this 

Who came for the one, and left all the rest  

 

The man raised a hand, and together they stood 

The kid threw his change in, and pulled up his hood 

As he disappeared back into the cold 

The bell man kept ringing into every silence old   

One Order More (Instrumental)

The night was growing late, and the cold deepening. The bell man returned to the office down the narrow alley to brush off the cold and rest his aching feet. The door hadn't yet closed behind him, when a plea rose from the shadows of the shabby place. 

The old man was gone. But waiting there stood a woman, as though knowing sooner or later a bell ringer would wander in. Late this Christmas Eve, she had a favor to ask. Not something a bell man could do for her while standing beside his bucket of coins. 

The woman had a sick child. And she had the desperate thought that if she could only convince a bell ringer to pay them a visit at their home, that her daughter might enjoy a happy diversion from her illness. 

A Young Mother's Wish Lyrics

Glad as he might be that his visit to the young girl had brightened her Christmas Eve, the bell man's walk from their home back to his post was a long one. Doubt plagued him. Despite the child's encouragement, he couldn't understand how he could play a part that might give false hope.

Mostly, he didn't understand what part he had to play at all. Or if anything he might do or not do made any difference in the grand scheme of things. They were cold thoughts for a cold night. They were lonely thoughts for a lonely man. Trust was going out of him. It was something he could feel.

But on returning to his corner, he was greeted by an old friend. Someone who'd always had a way of helping him see.

"Please, mister, please,"
She said as he entered the office

To shake off the cold  
Her child was ill

And her child's one wish

Was relief for her mother

From her constant fear 
But this mother

Her guilt was the fear that

Her daughter could see

When she looked in her eyes 


"So, please, mister, please"
 
Take it away

I know you’re a man in a costume

Just ringing a bell

But this Christmas Eve

Even illusion might offer it's spell 
 
So, he followed

Through streets narrow and cobbled

To their humble home 
The child brightened

To see the bell ringer come visit her

On this, the night of all nights 
And he listened

To stories and memories

That made them a family

With courage to fight  
 
He prayed, please, Christmas, please 
 
Take it away

I'm merely a man in a costume

Just ringing a bell

On this Christmas Eve

 They need more than I have to offer

To grant the child health 
Grant the child health 
 
Then the child spoke

She told him his fear was the same as her mother's

Kind but in vain 
For Christmas had answered her sorrow

And filled her with gladness

For moments like these 
No illness had power to take back

The promise his costume

Was meant to convey 
 
"So please, mister, please" 
 
Take it away

You are a man in a costume

And you play it well

On this Christmas Eve

Others will need you to ring out your bell! 
  
Ring on! 
She sang, Ring on! 
Ring on! 
Ring on! 

 


 

Every Doubt Has an Answer Lyrics

When the spirit of his departed wife returned whence she came, the bell man he was left with a deep sense of wonder. He might be a wanderer after all, but he was not lost. Someone above was seeing to that. If he hadn't been sure of it before, this visit had planted it firmly in his heart. 

He might still be cold, penniless, and with no place to spend this night of all nights. But he couldn't rightly say anymore that he was alone. For that piece of knowledge, he owed a fair bit of gratitude. And just now, he couldn't think of a better way to do it than ring his silly little bell. 

A peaceful night

Doubt in his mind

He might have had enough

How many times

Could he rewind

And build himself back up

What good a prayer

When noone's there

To share

To care

So he returned

Back to his place

Where a bell man does his time

And coming near

At this time of year

Another traveler he did find

She was a friend

From way back when

Gone these years back to His Grace

She looked at him

A beautiful grin

And told him, doubt has no place

But if it came

Just recall her face

And trust this night's embrace

She had found the peace she sought

For every doubt her heart had wrought

By holding on to the simple thought

That one small child her promise bought

 

He stared away

His hand ashake

It caused a ringing in his chime

His little bell

A lonesome knell

That seemed to call the tired home

What good was he

This Christmas Eve

Doubt-filled and all alone

 

She felt his pain

So took his hand

And filled him with memories

Then looked at him

That beautiful grin

Said, "I love you. Now listen to me."

There are in this night

So many stories being told now

We must do our part

And try to help them

Doubt gets in the way

When men reach out

To those who need them

Put your doubt away

And trust the story of Christmas

Wonder for a Wanderer (Instrumental)

Long onto midnight he stood there, ringing out his chime. The streets grew gradually more deserted, until it seemed he stood alone in the city beneath a fall of snow. There was no reason to stop. He hadn't any place to be. And in its own way, the ring of his bell seemed the right accompaniment for a quiet city gone off to bed.

His mind turned back over the people who'd crossed his path that day. How little he'd actually been able to offer them. Or so it seemed. Especially in light of what he thought he now understood a bit better about this time of year. And though he didn't let himself wander to far into the past, there were moments he'd liked to have back. Moments he'd surely regard and use better than he had. 

That was the frame of mind he stood in when the sound of footsteps in the snow interrupted his thoughts. This time, the stranger approaching him was less strange--a soldier, like he'd once been; and like the old man had made of the bell ringer again tonight, standing this post, warring for those who hadn't anyone else to stand for them.

This old soldier who came now, though, had a question of his own.

Understanding Lyrics

That simple remembrance--stars that looked down the same now as they always had--it had just come to him. It was as if it had been there waiting to be shared.

 

Moments later, that's when it happened. That's when the full peace of this night, the kind he'd always heard and read about, descended on him. As the old soldier retired into the night, the bell ringer was soon completely by himself deep in the silences of that Christmas Eve. 

Heavenly peace. He understood it now. He'd come by an understanding of who he was, what he had to share. And when the chance to do so had come--many times this one night--however inexpert at giving comfort he might be--he'd been willing. That counted for something. Not in the way men keep score. But in the way doing so had eased his own troubled heart. 

The bell man stood at his post

'Neath Christmas snow

There came a man upon him

His hands were hanging low

Like other men

Who come back from fighting war

He came broken

Needing on wish more

He paused, staring at the man

They shared a moment only soldiers can

He asked the bell man, did he think his chime

Could do something for a soldier, running out of time

See, he did not believe that peace could come again

He'd seen too much already to have good will for men

The bell man's silence, might have seemed a right response

The soldier turned to leave him, when the bell man rang his song

Into that midnight, he chose the only words

One soldier to another, something he had heard . . .

 

I heard the bells on Christmas day

Their old familiar carols play

And mild and sweet their songs repeat

Of peace on earth good will to men

And the bells are ringing (peace on earth)

Like a choir they're singing (peace on earth)

In my heart I hear them (peace on earth)

Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head

There is no peace on earth I said

For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing (peace on earth)

Like a choir they're singing (peace on earth)

Does anybody hear them? (peace on earth)

Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep

God is not dead, nor does he sleep

(peace on earth, peace on earth)

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail

With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way

The world revolved from night to day

A voice, a chime, a chant sublime

Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they're ringing (peace on earth)

Like a choir they're singing (peace on earth)

And with our hearts we'll hear them (peace on earth)

Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they're ringing? (peace on earth)

The life the angels singing (peace on earth)

Open up your heart and hear them (peace on earth)

Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, peace on earth

Peace on earth, Good will to men

The soldier stood there, a reverence in his eyes

A peace they shared between them

They'd marked it with their lives

He'd heard an answer while standing in the snow

And for the world the bell man saw his hands hung not so low

He raised a hand, said he had to go

And left him standing there, but the bell man he did know

That the old man knew his business,

Knew the place and time

To send him out, help him recall, the power of his chime

And for the soldier, who'd surely passed others of his kind

On this night, the bell man,

Had been there for him to find

My Silent Night Lyrics

And that would have been enough. He might have stood all that Christmas Eve alone in the city softly ringing his bell. He'd have done it for the old man and considered himself lucky to be at it. In more than one way, he might have even wanted that sleepy city night to himself. To think longer on what he'd learned and felt.

But--as he came to believe--that's not what the old man had had in mind. And as the distant beautiful song of church bells rang out somewhere in the night, another sound rose in the snow. And the bell man smiled to himself to think that he'd come all this way and all these years to learn the simplest of truths--that there's one kind of gift that seems always to yield more for the giver than the receiver. That the best you have is the care that you can give.

It was something he learned as each passerby he'd helped that day returned to his corner in the deeps of that Christmas Eve to offer him a warm place to stay. And friendship besides.

It was Christmas Eve, he was alone

Everyone had found their home

The bell man, stood a silent darkened street

You might have thought, he'd feel some pain

Some loneliness, that he'd complain

Instead, he thought that finally he could see

He'd helped some people on their way

Kept a promise, seen some strength

It mattered not he had no place to be

For him, home now meant something more

A peace he'd never known before

He'd found that gentle silence in the night

Sometime deep inside that night

The old man came and stood beside

For a while, they just watched the snow fall down

Then the bell man asked, just who he was

The old man smiled, and nodded once

As though the night had answered well enough

A moment more, then he was gone

The bell man left to carry on

Keeping watch as the all the world fell still

Gift of Self Lyrics

The bell ringer stood as Christmas drew nigh

At peace in the silence and cold

Somewhere out there, a church bell it rang

A midnight tone he now understood well

It hadn't echoed its last, when a new music came

Footsteps arriving through the snow

One, then another, the stories returned

Each inviting him back to their home

Hear the bells, this Christmas Eve

They're every life, a music worth the listening

The bell ringer hadn't a thing to give

He was just willing to stand in the cold

And hear every story of suffering

And offer the best self he knows

Hear the tales, this Christmas Eve

They're every song, the stories worth the rendering

Father, Christmas shares a message

Asks us all to ring our chime

Hear the sound of Christmas bells

They ask for us to try

Good King Wenceslas went down

When someone's heart need lifting

It's not ours to wonder why

Listen to the invitation

Then ask them, "How high?"

 

Give of yourself to help

A soldier

A mother

A child on the street

You can give of yourself to help

A neighbor

A sister

A brother that you've never met

 

The best you have

Is the care that you can give

The best you have

Hear the sound of Christmas bells

They ring out in the sky

All our finest gifts we bring

They call on us to lend a hand

To every broken life

And your own story may be heard

When bell men ring their chime

Give of yourself to help

A soldier

A mother

A child on the street

You can give of yourself to help

A neighbor

A sister

A brother that you've never

Give of yourself to help

A soldier

A mother

A child on the street

You can give of yourself to help

A neighbor

A sister

A brother that you've never

We can be bell ringers

Give of the best of ourselves

© 2019 by Symphony North LLC