Larvik church was commissioned in 1677. It is located in the Tollerodden part of the town, quite some distance from the buildings surrounding the port. Arne Nordheim liked the sound of the organ and visited frequently to listen to the music of the organist Oskar Meier Hansen. He also earned some money as an organ blower and was allowed to try out the instrument. As he showed so much interest in organ music, his father bought him a pump organ.
Nordheim was a boy scout, and one of the tasks of the scouts was to ring the church bells on New Year’s Eve. It was a physical task, and Arne was always happy when he could pull the ropes and hear the strong fundamental tone and enthralling overtones, as well as the harmonies that arose when the sounds of all three church bells mixed together. He was a bell-ringer for ten years. His greatest experience there came on 8 May 1945, when the scouts rang the bells to celebrate the restoration of peace in Norway. It was not just a single swing to make the rings bell. They were to ring without stopping, and the clapper was to strike the sound rim directly and quickly. It was hard work, so with each smaller bell there were two boys standing on stools, ringing in alternation for fifteen minutes. For the next quarter of an hour, the larger bells were rung with ropes, and then the cycle repeated. Arne remembered that feeling forever, especially the moment when the window shutters in the belfry were opened and the sound of the bells was let out into the world. Later, bells would always play an important role in his music.
When he wasn’t listening to the playing of Oskar Meier Hansen or pulling the bell ropes, Nordheim liked to take strolls in the church’s graveyard. He taught himself to count by counting the dates on the gravestones. Nordheim liked to visit graveyards for the rest of his life.