If to this day Emmanuel, the great bell, remains one of the finest examples of its kind in Europe (as campanologists, musicians and musicologists generally agree), the same could not be said of the four bells housed in the North Tower since 1856. The bells were flawed by the poor quality of the metal used in their production (metal both musically mediocre and given to wear), as well as by their number, size and acoustic properties – out of tune with each other and with the great bell.
In the 21st Century, both musical concerns and the liturgical role of the bells (to ring services and the hours with a melody appropriate to the liturgical season) have determined the selection of the new set of bells. Drawing on an historical parallel – for the history of the Cathedral’s bells is well documented – the project seeks to re-establish the arrangement of the bells prior to their destruction. That is: 8 bells in the North Tower and 2 great bells in the South Tower, designed around the existing great bell, Emmanuel. The project has been fully approved by the Commission Supérieure des Monuments Historiques. Moreover, the installation of a second great bell in the South Tower will help protect Emmanuel. Over 330 years old, this bell must now be rung prudently in order to preserve it for posterity. Indeed, the presence of a second bell had already been anticipated in the original plans of the 19th Century architect Viollet-le-Duc when the belfry was reconstructed in 1845. Notre Dame New Bells