Ringing in Contemporary Worship



Including handbells and handchimes in contemporary worship is possible and it works!  As some churches change their worship style of a particular service or entire Sunday morning, the practice of putting ringing instruments away in a closet has occurred over and over.  However, there is no reason to do so.

The music of contemporary worship tends to reflect trends of popular music.  The belief of many is that some are attracted to worship in a way that reflects the secular culture of their daily lives.  Ever present in popular music that is played on a daily basis is an instrumental background to a vocalist or group.  The variation in instrumentation not only adds color but reinforces the rhythmic drive through a particular song.  The same concept is used in contemporary Christian music.

As church musicians, we have the call to use the resources of our congregation – people and instruments – to lift our best to God in every way. By using our ringing instruments rather than discounting them, we can embellish contemporary music with their ethereal and sparkling sounds and we can increase active participation in Worship through the talents of members of our congregations.

While the common sound of the praise band may include keyboard, drums and guitar, why not take it up a notch by adding some handchimes to the bass echoing the harmonic pattern for more resonance and sustain.  A simple ostinato on bells may replace that of a keyboard and give more color. Convert a non-pitched percussion part into a pitched one using ringing instruments.  All of these are simple additions which will lead to uncommon ground in contemporary music.

Contemporary music can be played by a ringing ensemble as well.  Over the years, we have seen more releases of published arrangements of popular music that are stunning.  The same is true for Christian music.

Below are some examples of music that can be used in a contemporary Worship setting.  All of these pieces are available in the ChimeWorks store for ringing ensembles and work well with handbell and handchimes.  The scores are available for immediate purchase and digital download.

Click on the links below to find more information on each collection or piece.  They begin at Level 1 in difficulty.

Easy to Ring Praise & Worship   (3 – 5 Octaves)  Level 1+

Easy to Ring Praise & Worship II   (2 – 3 Octaves) (3 – 5 Octaves)  Level 1+

Easy to Ring Praise & Worship III  (2 – 3 Octaves)   (3 – 5 Octaves)  Levels 1 & 2

Easy to Ring Praise & Worship IV  (2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)  Levels 1 & 2

Easy to Ring Praise & Worship V  (3 – 5 Octaves)  Levels 1 & 2

Easy to Ring Praise & Worship VI  (2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)  Level 1 & 2

Easy to Ring Praise & Worship VII  (2 – 3 Octaves) (3 – 5 Octaves) Levels 1 & 2

Easy to Ring Praise & Worship VIII  (2 – 3 Octaves) (3 – 5 Octaves) Levels 1 & 2

Lamb of God with There Is A Redeemer (3- 5 Octaves)  Level 2

Awesome God (3 – 5) Level 3+

Awesome God & Almighty (2 – 3 Octaves)  Level 2-

How Beautiful (3 – 5 Octaves)  Level 2

How Majestic Is Your Name (2 – 3 Octaves)  Level 2+

Lamb of God  (3 – 5 Octaves) Level 2+

Keys to Success…. Handchimes with Keyboard

Start with success by adding the keys!  As you choose music for your ringing choir, consider inviting your organist/pianist to collaborate. This partnership has many benefits for the ringers as they improve their musicianship and it will be an enhanced part of your worship service or concert performance.

Choosing a title that is written for handchimes or handbells and piano/organ/keyboard is a wonderful way to build your choir for several reasons:

It builds confidence – having your ringers collaborate with keyboard dissipates some of the focus off of the ringers while participating in worship. This is helpful to new ringers especially those who may not be feel comfortable being in the eye of hundreds while they are learning a new skill. Having the keyboard reinforcement takes off some of the pressure as they learn a new instrument or get acclimated to being in front of a large group.

It is supportive – one of the things to accomplish for a new ringing ensemble is to work together as a team. They will be learning to keep a good sense of rhythm together as well as be ringing collectively precisely on the beat. Having an accomplished musician at the keyboard to provide a steady beat will be a strong foundation for the group in their early stages of ringing.

It will embellish easier music – while repertoire for a beginning ensembles will most likely be homophonic chords with simple rhythms, adding a keyboard part to accent the chords will allow for a more sophisticated performance without stretching the ringers’ comfort zone.

It will enhance the sound – even if you have seasoned members ringing more advanced music, joining forces with keyboard will be pleasing and resounding. The overall effect of adding a keyboard instrument with your octaves will be rich as the timbre of handbells/handchimes with keyboard are sonorous.

ChimeWorks recommends the resources below for your consideration. All available for immediate purchase and digital download by clicking the links in blue:

Bells and Keys… More or Less

Bells and Keys… More or Less, Vol. 2

For All The Saints 2 – 3 Octaves  4 – 6 Octaves  Keyboard

Gloria by Mozart   3 Octaves  Keyboard

Largo from Winter By Vivaldi  2 -3 Octaves  2 – 6 Octaves  Full Score

Vivaldi Concerto

In Bright Mansions Above 3 – 5 Octaves  Full Score

Many and Great, O God, Are Thy Things  3 – 6 Octaves  Full Score

Dona Nobis Pacem 3 – 5 Octaves  Full Score

Easy Secular Music for Handchimes

There’s no better time to begin a Chime club at your school.  If you are looking for beginning secular music that includes whole, half and quarter notes, we’ve got a list for you!

The resources below include original compositions, transcriptions of light classics and arrangements of folk songs and spirituals for you to include in this year’s repertoire.

All these titles are recommended to be rung on handchimes while caution is given to some to be performed at a moderate tempo or to substitute some articulations with those that can be used with handchimes without causing harm to the instrument.  See our Technique Substitution Chart for further information.

Click the titles below to link to the ChimeWorks webpage for immediate purchase and digital download capability.

Chime Time


In Quietness and Confidence

Theme from Beethoven’s 9th

Jubilee! or Jubilee! (3 – 5 Octaves)

Michael, Row The Boat Ashore

Morning Has Broken or Morning Has Broken (3 – 5 Octaves)

Music of the Masters

Music of the Masters, Vol. 2

My Heart Ever Faithful

Pathways to Musical Ringing, Vol. 2 or Pathways to Musical Ringing, Vol. 2 (3 – 5 Octaves)

Prelude to Sunrise

Processional & Joyful Dance or Processional & Joyful Dance (3 – 5 Octaves)

Processional Celebration

Processional Jubilee

Simple Gifts

Starting Point, Vol. 1 or Starting Point, Vol. 1 (3 – 5 Octaves)

Starting Point, Vol. 2 or Starting Point, Vol. 2 (3 – 5 Octaves)

Tranquil Chimings