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The Catholic Encyclopedia
A small bell placed on the credence or in some other convenient place on the epistle side of the altar. According to the rubrics it is rung only at the Sanctus and at the elevation of both Species (Miss. Rom., Ritus celebr., tit. vii, n. 8, and tit. viii, n. 6) to invite the faithful to the act of adoration at the Consecration. This must be done even in private chapels (Cong. Sac. Rit., 18 July, 1885). It may also be rung at the "Domine non sum dignus", and again before the distribution of Holy Communion to the laity, and at other times according to the custom of the place. When the Blessed Sacrament is publicly exposed, (1) it may or may not be rung at high Mass, and at a low Mass which takes the place of the high Mass, celebrated at the Altar of Exposition, according to the custom of the place. (2) It is not rung at low Masses at any altar of such church, but in such cases a low signal may be given with the bell at the sacristy door when the priest is about to begin Mass (Gardellini, Instr. Clem., nos. 16, 4, 5). (3) It is not rung at high Mass celebrated at an altar other than that on which the Blessed Sacrament is publicly exposed (Cong. Sac. Rit., 31 August, 1867). It should not be rung at low Masses whilst a public celebration is taking place, and at any Mass during the public recitation of office in choir, if said Mass be celebrated at an altar near the choir (Cong. Sac. Rit., 21 November, 1893). It is not rung from the end of the "Gloria in excelsis" on Maundy Thursday to the beginning of the "Gloria in excelsis" on Holy Saturday. During this interval the Memoriale Rituum (Tit. iv, sec. 4, n. 7) prescribes that the clapper (crotalus) be used to give the signal for the Angelus, but it is nowhere prescribed in the liturgical functions. The custom of using the clapper on these occasions appears quite proper. The Cong. Sac. Rit. (10 September, 1898) when asked if a gong may be used instead of the small bell answered, "Negative; seu non convenire".
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Obstat, Nihil. Lafort, Remy, Censor. Entry for 'Altar Bell'. The Catholic Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​a/altar-bell.html. Robert Appleton Company. New York. 1914.