Bentham's Bell

At Low Bentham, the parish church rather unusually hangs a large bell in its porch. Those who pass beneath doubtless hope and pray that its fastenings are secure. It was discovered in the belfry during the 1876 rebuild and dates from the 15th century, reputed to have come from Sawley Abbey, which is just a few miles from our chapel. Coming from before the Reformation, it bears the inscription Sum Rosa pulsate Mundi Maria Vocata which may be translated ‘When rung I am called Mary the Rose of the World’. Those old monks and abbots were more interested in Mary and saints than in the very Saviour Himself. I am pleased that the bell can no longer be rung with so dubious an invocation. The association of roses with Mary has even made it into one of our popular hymns. Crown Him with Many Crowns was written by Matthew Bridges, a convert to Romanism:

Crown him the Virgin's Son!

  The God Incarnate born,--

Whose arm those crimson trophies won

  Which now his brow adorn!

Fruit of the mystic Rose

  As of that Rose the Stem:

The Root, whence mercy ever flows,--

  The Babe of Bethlehem!

Roses are beautiful flowers, and Mary a godly and privileged woman. Yet she was a sinner saved by grace, being no saviour herself. Her beauty is but a reflection of her divine Son’s righteousness, for it is He who is the perfect One. The phrase Rose of Sharon is used of herself by Solomon’s beloved rather than the king, but the beauty, fragrance and wonder of roses surely belongs to Christ rather than His humble mother.

Jesus, Rose of Sharon, bloom within my heart;

Beauties of Thy truth and holiness impart,

That where’er I go my life may shed abroad

Fragrance of the knowledge of the love of God.


Jesus, Rose of Sharon, sweeter far to me

Than the fairest flow’rs of earth could ever be,

Fill my life completely, adding more each day

Of Thy grace divine and purity, I pray

-Ida A. Guirey