In this article I will look at the Norwegian title “Klokker”When searching for ancestors in Norway, we sooner or later come across the word “klokker”. Searching a dictionary you might find it to be plural of “klokke” i.e. clock or watch. However, it may be a title and it is the person with the title Klokker we will look at in this article.
A “klokker” is a lay person who is assisting the minister in preparing, and during, the service.
I have sometimes seen the term “klokker” be translated into “sexton” in English. Having looked at the difinition of “sexton” I find it to not be a fitting translation. (Wikipedia)
The word “klokker” can be translated to “bellringer”. This function originates in the middle ages when the bells chimed twice a day to call to prayer. Before the Lutheran reformation small bells was also used inside the church in connection with communion (Wikipedia).
Initially the klokker did ring the chuchbells to call to service. Many churches had, in addition to a klokker, also a “kirketjener” i.e. a churchservant. Many places it was the churchservant’s job to ring the bells. Some churches had bellringers in addition to churchservant and “Klokker”. Today many churches have motorised bells, often engaged by a timer, so the only ringing that has to be manually initiated is the 3 times 3 bellstrikes that ends the churchservice.
The “klokker” also had and still have other duties in preparation of the church service. He lights the lights in the Church and the candles on the altar. He prepares the wessels for the communion and water for baptisms. When hymnals came into common use, the klokker would put up the numbers of the hymns on a board in the church.
The Church ordinance from 1607 states that the minister and the “klokker” should gather the children in the parish once a week to teach them the cathecesis.
Sometimes the “klokker” is called “Kirkesanger → Church singer” This is from the time before pipe organs became common in the churches. He was the one who led the congregation in the singing of hymns.
In earlier church rituals the “klokker” used to read prayers (“klokkerbønn”) at the opening and at the end of the service.
In a time before modern communications the minister often lived far from many of the localparishes and could not be summoned on short notice. In these cases the “klokker” often officiated at the interment ceremony. The next time the minister visited the local parish, he would perform the final committals (“Jordfestelse”) at the grave. See Three dates of death.After public school were established in the rural districts, the teacher often served as “klokker” as he could read and write.
In the featured photo from Vestnes Church (built 1872) we see the “klokker’s” chair to the right, in the cubicle seen just behind the piano. Today the “klokker’s” duty also include being sound techician for the PA-system that most churches are fitted with.
Prior to 1812 Norwegian church books were recorded as the minister saw fit1)Lajos Juhasz, “Kirkebøkene i Norge” Norsk slektshistorisk tidskrift XXVI (1978):pages 81-99.
Singular: Klokkerbok, plural: Klokkerbøker
The Digitalarkivet calls these records “Sexton’s book” or “Copy book”
The order about keeping “klokkerbøker” was not repeated in the new regulations of 1820, so some parishes discontinued the practice. These parishes reintroduced the “klokkerbok” in 1890 after the Norwegian bishops encouraged this3)Gunnar Thorvaldsen Håndbok i registrering og bruk av historiske persondata Tano Aschehoug (Oslo) 1996 page 84.
If available, you should have a look in both the “Ministerialbok” and the “Klokkerbok”. Often the minister travelled around in a big parish and left his copy of the church book at the rectory. He had to resort to lose leafs to take notes of his action. Later he would copy these notes into the church book. The “Klokker” normally recorded the information directly into his book. If there is divergence between the two copies I usually consider the “klokkerbok” as the most reliable. The “klokker” lived in the local community (local parish) and often knew the people in the congregation better than the minister.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Lajos Juhasz, “Kirkebøkene i Norge” Norsk slektshistorisk tidskrift XXVI (1978):pages 81-99|
|2.||↑||Nina Hveem Carlsen, “Prestens bok til åndelig og verdslig bruk,” Arkivmagasinet 1 (2007): page 8-9|
|3.||↑||Gunnar Thorvaldsen Håndbok i registrering og bruk av historiske persondata Tano Aschehoug (Oslo) 1996 page 84|