''BELLS,'' wrote Charles Lamb, ''The music nighest bordering upon heaven.'' If you agree, Trinity College in Hartford is the place to be this week when some 100 bell-ringers convene for the annual congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs of North America.
''From Trinity's point of view,'' said Kathy Frederick, the media relations director, ''having the congress here is especially gratifying since we were involved in the founding of the guild through our late president, Remsen Ogilby. Mr. Ogilby presided over the building of Trinity Chapel in 1932, saw to the installation of the carillon - which he played himself - and two years later came up with the idea of having an association of carillonneurs.''
What is special about the Trinity carillon? ''As originally installed,'' said the archivist of the college, Peter Knapp, ''the carillon was relatively small, but in 1978 the upper range was extended by the addition of 19 bells, so that we now have a four-octave instrument that is certainly one of the finest in the country. The timbre of the bells is also remarkable. They were all cast in England, and the craftsmanship is of the highest quality.''
Although the layman may not realize it when he hears the bells echoing across the campus, there is a finely honed art to carillon performance. ''It comes from long experience in knowing what types of chords and runs will work properly with others,'' said Mr. Knapp. ''Remember, after you strike a bell, the sound lingers, and that's of crucial importance. Everything that follows - one hopes - will be harmonious with it, so that the musical values can be properly conveyed. Possibilities for quite complex music are also present since the clavier (the console at which the player sits) has both foot pedals and a double range of levers operated by the hands.''
Traditional music, arrangements of hymn tunes and original compositions for carillon form the bulk of the repertory that will be explored by visiting artists during the five-day congress, and eveyone is welcome to enjoy the frequent bell recitals from the quadrangle. To learn which of the indoor lectures, panels and concerts are also open to the public, call Trinity at 527-3151.
The bells won't stop ringing when the congress ends: On June 30, and continuing for seven Wednesday evenings through Aug. 18, there will be free concerts at 7 P.M., each by a visiting carillonneur. In the past, as many as 1,000 listeners have brought chairs or blankets and picnic suppers to listen to the recitals at the quadrangle, right outside the chapel. In addition, 45-minute chamber concerts - also free - precede the carillon events inside the chapel, starting at 6.
Another musically satisfying way to spend at least three Wednesday evenings is to attend the open choral readings sponsored by the Connecticut Hebrew Chorale, with the assistance of the Yale Glee Club, which is providing some of the scores and a home for the singins: Hendrie Hall, at 165 Elm Street, across from the Green in New Haven.
All the pieces have biblical themes, but the range of styles is enormous: This Wednesday, for instance, Carol Kozak Ward, director of the Hebrew Chorale, will conduct the impromptu chorus in liturgical pieces, including the gorgeous ''Sacred Service'' by Darius Milhaud; on June 30, Fenno Heath, director of the Yale Glee Club as well as the University Glee Club of New Haven, conducts Bernstein's ''Chichester Psalms,'' and on July 7, Sherron Adrian, director of the Greater Meriden Oratorial Chorus, takes the singers through Haydn's ''Creation.''
Because of scheduling problems, the final sing-in is set for a Monday evening, July 19, when Prof. Neely Bruce of Wesleyan leads the reading of Mendelssohn's ''Elijah.'' The starting time for the programs is 7:30; a contribution of $2.50 will be requested at the door.
Other musical events of note this week include a 4 P.M. chamber concert today at St. John's in Salisbury, and at 7 tonight a free concert by the New Haven Symphony on the Green in downtown New Haven, with Murry Sidlin conducting. On Wednesday at 3 P.M., there will be a bonus sonata recital at Music Mountain - also free -with the violinist Rachmael Weinstock and the pianist Peter Basquin joining forces for Beethoven, Brahms and Faure, while the regular Saturday afternoon concert is an all-Beethoven program by the Manhattan String Quartet with the guest pianist Kenneth Drake (call 496-1222 for ticket information).
And finally, this Friday at 8:30 P.M., the chamber programs of Yale in Norfolk begin with Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn and a new piece by Joan Power called ''Breakfast Rhythms'' (542-5537).