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Downtown Church Safely Celebrating Easter With Carillon Concert

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Christian churches all across the state are finding ways to celebrate the Easter holiday from afar due to the coronavirus. This Sunday, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul is finding a pretty unique solution to replacing its Easter Day service with a carillon concert.

Its large carillon instrument is the only one inside a church in the state, and for the first time, it’s going to be played live on Easter morning.

“[We] started thinking about the carillon being a unique way to have an Easter experience, Easter hymns, and celebrating Easter in a different way since we can’t actually be physically in the cathedral together,” Mark Babcock, the Cathedral Church of St. Paul’s organist and choir master said.

Sunday morning, Babcock will climb to the top of the bell tower at St. Paul’s and perform for not only his congregation, but the larger community

“People can park along the streets and listen for blocks. People can park in the parking lots. They can be safe, and yet they can still be near a sacred space and hear sacred music on what’s, in our Christian faith, an important day,” Babcock said.

Striking wooden batons and pressing down on pedals, Babcock makes 25 bronze bells, the largest weighing nearly three tons, ring joyful Easter hymns.

“I will start the Easter Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m. I’ll go right into that opening hymn that we would normally sing together. I’ll play that on carillon, ‘Jesus Christ Has Risen Today,'” Babcock said.

Bringing people together spiritually, while physically staying apart.

“I hope that people will feel an Easter experience in this unique time that connects them to their past Easter experiences. We hope that music does that,” Babcock said.

It will be a 30 minute live concert starting at 9 a.m.

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