THEY stood in studious groups listening intently to the sounds they never thought they would hear ...the peal of church bells.

Because throughout its long and distinguished life, Holy Trinity Church in Dobcross has called the faithful to prayer or celebration with the solitary sound of a single bell.

However, that ended said one long-time churchgoer, when the bell went from ding to a mournful dong and finally cracked more than 10 years ago.

Now fast forward to the weekend...enter the electronic age with technical sales engineer Phil Thompson, from Smith of Derby, clockmakers since 1856, who services the church clock.

And hark, he produced on CD a wide ranging variety of tunes from favourite hymns to rousing anthems, tempered by music suitable for nuptials or more sombre occasions chiming over the hillsides.

Health and safety measures hampered the sound system trial from actually taking place in the church bell tower itself. Instead speakers were tethered to the ground looped to a digital sound link in the church.

However, the test brought an interesting reaction, particularly on social media, with a shoal of enthusiastic comments backing the plan to install electronic chimes.

But one cautioned: “The times at which the bells will be rung is very important in making a final decision.

“As a feature of traditional village life I applaud the efforts of the church to reintroduce bell ringing.

“I enjoyed the more traditional peals but on the other hand found some of more complex sounds and carols more reminiscent of a shopping mall than a rural village.”

Another said: “I loved the single chimes and the carols. Not so keen on the initial medley... that sounded a bit synthetic and too modern.”

A team from the church parochial church council including church warden Paul Wooding, Dorothy Townend, Peter Wiffin and Roy Hopkinson attended the test.

Afterwards, in a joint statement, they said: “The feedback from face-to-face contact and from social media has in the main been positive.

“Members of the PCC, who were cautious having experienced other systems, were extremely positive about the demonstration.

“Some of the concerned comments centred around issues such as volume and the style of music. Preferences were expressed for the use of more traditional peals rather than the more complex sounds of carols or hymns.

“The PCC will be meeting in November where the village’s reaction and feedback to the Digital Bell System will be discussed.”

The church featured in a dramatic scene 40 years ago in the film blockbuster Yanks starring Richard Gere and Vanessa Redgrave.