St John the Baptist is also celebrated at the heart of St John’s Kirk’s famous collection of bells – the largest collection in the British Isles.
The carillon, which is played regularly, consists of thirty-five of these bells. They include the largest bell in the collection, the early 16th century “Bourdon” (the Johannes Baptista), which is the keynote bell, with a further 34 bells cast in 1935.
The inscription round the top of the ‘Bourdon’ reads:
Johannes Baptista Vocor Ego
Vox Clamantis in Deserto
Mechlin Petrus Waghevens Me Fo’ mavit
Sit Benedictus Qui Cuncta Creavit. MCCCCCVI
John the Baptist I am called
The voice of one
crying in the wilderness.
Peter Weghevens made me
Let Him be blest who created all things. 1506
Beneath the inscription is a small image of John the Baptist.
In the lower right hand corner of the Gow window in the south aisle is a picture of King David, the psalmist, playing a set of bells, with hammers.
From St John’s tower the ‘Bells of Perth’ have rung out over the centuries, marking great state occasions, telling the time, and calling parishioners to worship. There are 63 bells, eight of which were cast before the Reformation, and might have been heard by John Knox.
This modern carillon was promoted by Mr Melville Gray, of Bowerswell House, and installed in 1935 at a cost of £3,000, paid for by many donors, including, notably, Melville Gray, himself. Some of the donors chose to have a bell inscribed with the name of a family member killed in the Great War.