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+

Celebrate Music

March is Music in Our Schools Month.  It’s the time that we demonstrate the powerful effect of music in the lives of our students.  What better way to mark this month then to sing and ring about our art.  Children will remember the songs that we teach them throughout their lives.  Be it a catchy tune, silly lyrics or an engaging movement, the music that we teach will impact our students in different ways, but the end results are the same – lifelong memories.

As teachers of music, we hope to instill an appreciation, love or passion for music into our students.  We do this best by actively involving them in the music-making process allowing them to be creative as they go and encouraging them to connect their experiences to the world around them.  We also know that music will stimulate the intellectual, emotional, spiritual and social growth of our students affecting their lives in so many ways.

We balance our choice of lessons and repertoire to broaden our students – classical, folk, world and nonsense songs fill our teaching space – all to provide our students with a varying wealth of repertoire.  Along with our singing, we introduce drums and other percussion, recorders, Orff instruments, ukuleles, Boomwhackers®, KidsPlay® bells and handchimes all in effort for our students to find their voice.  In the end, our hope is for well-rounded young musicians leading to accomplished adults who are kinder, gentler and welcoming.

How often do we stop and sing about it?  Music, that is.  During this month, we have an opportunity to sum up all that we offer with songs that praise our beloved art.  Words that express how wonderful music is that our students will remember for a lifetime.

Share the joy of music with some of the following ChimeWorks lesson plans that will allow your students to sing and ring about it!  All of the lesson are available for immediate purchase and digital download.  Once copy at $2.29 will bring the gift of music to all of your classes.  Click the title of each lesson to find it in the store.


Merrily, Merrily Greet The Morn

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type: Ostinati
  • Canon: Yes
  • Topic: Music, Nature
  • Language: English
  • Origin: England

Merrily, Merrily Greet The Morn is an English Folk song published in 1917 in the book, 55 Songs and Choruses for Community Singing.   The song’s words and horn-like music represent hunting scenes in England.


Music Alone Shall Live

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type: Chords
  • Chords: 3
  • Topic: Music
  • Language:English
  • Origin: Germany

Music Alone Shall Live is a German folk song in three-art round or canon form


O Music, Sweet Music

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type: Chords
  • Chords: 2
  • Canon: Yes
  • Topic: Music
  • Language: English
  • Origin: America

The three-part round or canon, O Music, Sweet Music, is attributed to Lowell Mason, an American hymn writer.  This piece uses two chords and is a wonderful introduction into chiming and singing together.


Sing Together

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type: Ostinati
  • Canon: Yes
  • Topic: General, Music
  • Language: English
  • Origin: Unknown

Sing Together is a folk song of unknown origin.  It is a three-part canon or round.


Viva La Musica

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type: Ostinati
  • Canon: Yes
  • Topic: Classical, Music
  • Language: Italian
  • Origin: Germany

Viva La Musica was written in the17th century by German composer, Michael Praetorius.  The Italian text translates to long live music!

Why Bells at Christmas?

Bells are a familiar symbol of the Christmas season.  From sugar cookies to holiday decorations, the recognizable shape resonates the joy of Christmas.  For handbell and handchime ensembles, no season is busier as eager listeners revel in their festive sounds.

The use of bells dates back to pagan times when they were used to ward off evil spirits.  However, through the centuries, they have become closely associated with the Christian church. It was St. Patrick who initially used bells in the 5th century to gather people together in order to preach the Word of God.  Irish missionaries continued the practice around the globe and by the 8th century, bells were closely associated with the Church.

Bells have multiple uses as their ringing reverberates various messages across the land:  to call a gathering; to announce a festival; to warn of danger; to celebrate the living; to pause in our daily activities to pray; to remember a significant occurrence; and to mourn those we have lost to name a few. At Christmas, bells ring to announce the birth of Christ and His presence in the world!

One of the most famous examples of taking this glorious symbol and using it to ring a message so true is the poet, Henry Wordsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882), who penned his famous poem, Christmas Bells, during the American Civil War.

Christmas Bells

I Heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!