Tag Archives: Handbells

Hallelujah, Handbells!

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One of the things I miss most during this pandemic is the opportunity to play in my church’s handbell choir, Ringing Praise. I love the camaraderie with my fellow ringers (they are the nicest people). The sound of bells lifts my heart, especially at Christmastime. I’ve put together a little virtual concert of Christmas music. (And if this is not enough for you, you can listen to the handbell post I put together last December.)

Joy to the World:

Solo: Angels We Have Heard on High:

Coventry Carol:

All I Want For Christmas Is You:

Sing We Now of Christmas:

Christmas Fanfare:

Fum, Fum, Fum:

A Midnight Clear: A Christmas Nocturne:

We Three Kings:

The Bell Daze of Christmas:

Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer:

Silent Night:

I Need a Handbell Fix

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It’s been five-and-a-half months since Ringing Praise, my church’s handbell choir, has met. I miss my fellow ringers (though we’ve kept up an active text chain), and also the ethereal timbre of our instruments. Join me as I listen to some wonderful handbell performances.

You might enjoy watching these fullscreen (click on the little broken square on the lower right corner of each video).

Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble:

Bohemian Rhapsody:

I am jealous of this group’s bass bells. Dancing Queen:

Hallelujah:

Here’s what happened when the Handbell Musicians of American had their 2020 Symposium online in July:

Let It Go played on handchimes:

Blessed Assurance:

Flight of the Bumblebee:

Farandole:

Lion King medley:

Video of the Week #248: H is for Handbells

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Our handbell choir, Ringing Praise, played “My Jesus, I Love Thee” in church a couple of months ago. I’m the short one in the back.

a-to-z HEADER [2020] to size v2

Handbells for Christmas

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I love handbells. I play in a handbell choir at my church. Here we are playing Advent Carol on December 1, 2019. (If you listen carefully, you may hear O Come, O Come Immanuel and a snippet of Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. Oh, and I’m second from the left in the back row.)

Christmas music is so well-suited for handbells that no Christmas is complete for me without bells. Here are some beautiful examples:

O Holy Night played by a soloist:

Carol of the Bells:

Troika, from Prokoviev’s Lt. Kije:

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen:

A boy (Jordan Moore) plays all the bell parts for O Christmas Tree plus an iPhone ocarina app:

Jingle Bells:

The Calypso Carol:

Sleigh Ride:

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!:

 We Wish You a Merry Christmas:

And for a big finish, Wizards in Winter:

If you enjoyed these carols on handbells, please click the “like” button and share on all your social media. Feel free to leave a comment below. And have a blessed Christmas!

Bells in Hand

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We recently started attending a different church.

We chose it because it looks like a church. Two churches we’ve attended in the past built new sanctuaries that reminded me of a big-box discount store: plain and windowless. I have a lot to say about this trend in church design, but for now, I’ll just say it doesn’t suit my aesthetics.

To my delight, our new church not only has stained glass windows, but also a handbell choir. Having played bells two decades ago, I was eager to join.

Handbell choirs seem to exist mainly in churches and schools. Whenever I hear handbells, I immediately think of Christmas, since bells are so appropriate to the season.

You may have noticed the bells being played in different ways for different effects: shaking; ringing, the bell being moved in a circular motion so the sound is living rather than static as it continues to vibrate; the bell being dampened against the chest at the end of its note’s duration; being struck by a mallet; being struck against the padded table.

This medley of carols has a Caribbean vibe and makes me think of steel drums:

Could any discussion of handbells be complete without The Carol of the Bells?

From carols, we make the logical segue to hymns and contemporary worship songs.

It’s common for a ringer in a handbell choir to be responsible for four or more bells. (At this point, I’m only playing one or two as I transition back into the artform.) Rare is the musician who can play an entire piece solo.

Handbells are not limited to carols and sacred music. Folk songs and classical music have been arranged for bell choirs.

Westminster Choir College Concert Handbell Choir playing Bach’s “Little” Fugue in g minor:

Khachaturian’s Sabre Dance:

Popular music has also been transcribed for handbells. Look how these players rotate their bells in this medley from The Lion King:

Adele’s Rolling in the Deep:

I’ve always been a choir person. I never played in a band or orchestra. Handbell choir is the only instrumental ensemble I’ve ever been part of. It requires absolute concentration. You must play the correct note at exactly the right moment. Your errors and omissions are incredibly obvious. You can’t be absent for a rehearsal or a performance, or you really need to find a substitute. Otherwise, the rest of the choir has to scramble to cover for you, adding an addition bell to their own responsibilities. Nevertheless, it is a lot of fun and greatly satisfying.

Any handbell ringers out there? Tell us about your experience in the comments.