A Ringing Salute to the Presidents

 

ChimeWorks is your source musical lesson plans using handchimes and we have some to share for next week!

President’s Day is right around the corner – the American holiday celebrated each year on the third Monday of February.  Originally established in 1885 to celebrate President George Washington’s birthday, it was celebrated on February 22nd, his birthdate.   It was moved in 1971 with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, an attempt to create more three-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

With the shift in date, many believed that the intent was to honor Washington and Abraham Lincoln and quickly, the holiday was renamed President’s Day to honor not only Washington and Lincoln but all U.S. Presidents, past and present.

There’s no better way to honor American leaders than by singing about our country which they helped to build and make stronger.  We honor our country by singing about the values of it which we hold so dear.

At ChimeWorks, we have the following lesson plans to help you honor our leaders and country through singing and ringing.  All of the lesson plans are available for immediate purchase and digital download for $2.29 each. Click on each title to take you to the store and let freedom ring!

Lesson Plans using chords to harmonize the melody by chord chart:

America

  • Use: Sacred, Secular
  • Level: 3 – 6
  • Chords: 4

My Country, ‘Tis of Thee, also known as America, is an American patriotic song.  The lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith and the melody used is the same as that of the national anthem of the United Kingdom, God Save the Queen, by Thomas Arne.  The song served as one of the national anthems of the United States before the adoption of The Star-Spangled Banner as the official anthem in 1931.

 

America The Beautiful

  • Use: Sacred, Secular
  • Level: 3 – 6
  • Chords: 4

America The Beautiful is an American patriotic song dating from the late 19th century.  The poem was originally written and entitled “Pike’s Peak” and the tune, “Materna” was written for an alternate text.  The two were combined and published in 1910.

 

Lesson plans using the Sing & Ring method – harmonize through song sheets, ring when the word is outlined and damp when it is underscored:

The Star-Spangled Banner

  • Use: Sacred, Secular
  • Level: 3 – 6

Written in September 1814, The Star-Spangled Banner, was inspired by Francis Scott Key’s witness of the American flag still waving after the battle at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.  It was set to music composed in 1775.  The song became our National Anthem in 1931.

 

America The Beautiful

  • Use: Sacred, Secular
  • Level: 3- 6

America The Beautiful is an American patriotic song dating from the late 19th century.  The poem was originally written and entitled “Pike’s Peak” and the tune, “Materna” was written for an alternate text.  The two were combined and published in 1910.

Sing & Ring about Love & Friendship

 

Valentine’s Day is not just about cupid and romance.  It brings the opportunity to sing about the values of friendship.  At ChimeWorks, we have lesson plans to share that you will be able to use over the coming weeks to not only celebrate love but also, teach of the importance of peer interactions and relationships.

A Tisket, A Tasket

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2
  • Type: Icons
  • Language: English
  • Origin: America

A Tisket, A Tasket was first noted in 1879.  It was recorded by Ella Fitzgerald in 1938.

 

Scarborough Fair

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: 3 – 6
  • Type: Chords
  • Chords: 5
  • Language: English
  • Origin: England

Scarborough Fair is and English folk song.  Known as a ballad, it tells of a fair in the town of Scarborough in York.

 

Happy Days

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

Happy Days is a four-part canon that has been sung for generations.  Its origin is unknown.

 

Skip To My Lou

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2
  • Type: Icons
  • Language: English
  • Origin: America

Skip To My Lou is a 19th century American folk song and party game.  During Puritan times, the fiddle was seen as evil therefore, young people created songs which involved clapping and movement rather than dancing.  “Lou” is Scottish for “love”.  Use this lesson plan to teach eye-hand coordination as a stepping stone to music literacy.

 

Make New Friends

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

Make New Friends is a traditional campfire song sung by Girl Scouts in North America.

 

Shalom Chaverim

  • Use: Sacred, Secular
  • Level: K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type: Chords
  • Chords: 3
  • Canon: Yes
  • Language: English, Hebrew
  • Origin: Israel

Meaning farewell, good friends, Shalom Chaverim is a traditional song sung at parting.  It may be sung in English or Hebrew. It may be used as a three-part canon (round).  It may be used for welcoming guests or in teaching friendship.

 

Come, Follow

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

Come Follow is an English folk song dating from the late 17th century.  It was written by John Hilton in 1652.  It is a three part round or canon.

 

Good and Joyous

  • Use: Sacred, Secular
  • Level: K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type: Ostinati
  • Canon: Yes
  • Language: English, Hebrew
  • Origin: Israel

Good and Joyous is a traditional Hebrew song usually sung in canon (round) form.  It is based on Psalm 133.  In the text, the word people may be used in place of brothers.

Handchimes and Black History Month

 

February 1st is just around the corner and the observance of Black History Month arrives with it.  To celebrate and educate about this rich cultural heritage, a great resource can be found in the African American Spiritual, perhaps the most significant type of American folk song.  By teaching the history, text and tunes of Spirituals we can impart a deeper understanding and awareness of this part of American culture.

Understanding the history of Spirituals and the different types will help those singing and listening have a greater understanding.  An informative synopsis produced by the Library of Congress offers a deeper look into this art form and can be found in the article, African American Spirituals.  We suggest that a brief history and explanation of the type of Spiritual being performed be shared with your students and audience to offer them a greater connection to what is being presented.

Using handchimes, we can introduce Spirituals in a number of ways.  Some of these resources include singing and some do not; either way, we recommend that the text and melody be taught by rote first to insure a deeper understanding of the song and its original use before introducing the handchime parts or score.

The resources below can be found on the ChimeWorks website and are available for immediate purchase and digital download.

Handchimes in the General Music Classroom or Choral Rehearsal 

Kum-Bah-Yah (Chords)

  • Use:Sacred
  • Level:K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Chords:3
  • Topic:Praise, Spiritual
  • Language:English
  • Origin:African American Spiritual

Students will harmonize the song by ringing chords when indicated either by chart or color.

 

Kum-Bah-Yah (Ring & Sing)

  • Use:Sacred
  • Level:3 – 6
  • Topic:Praise, Spiritual
  • Language:English
  • Origin:African American Spiritual

Students will harmonize the song by reading the text and ringing when a word is outlined and damping when it is underscored.

Come by here is the translation of Kum-bah-yah.  This song has been passed down by mouth and has become a favorite of camps and meeting places.  Originally, it was sung by those in need.

 

Michael, Row the Boat Ashore

  • Use:Sacred, Secular
  • Level:K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type:Chords
  • Chords:3
  • Topic:Spiritual
  • Language:English
  • Origin:America

Students will harmonize the song by ringing chords when indicated either by chart or color.

Michael Row the Boat Ashore is an African American Spiritual first noted during the Civil War.

 

Peace Like a River

  • Use:Sacred, Secular
  • Level:K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type:Chords
  • Chords:3
  • Topic:Peace, Spiritual
  • Language:English
  • Origin:African American Spiritual

Students will harmonize the song by ringing chords when indicated either by chart or color.

Peace Like A River is an African American Spiritual.  The first three items of the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22) are love, joy, and peace. This spiritual compares the peace of God to a placidly flowing river, the joy of Christ to a merrily bubbling fountain, and the love of God to a deep, wide ocean.

 

From Singing to Ringing

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:Karen Thompson
  • Use:Sacred
  • Octaves Used – Select One:2 – 3 Octaves
  • Level:Level 1, Level 2
  • Topic:General
  • Origin:African American Spiritual
  • Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo:Caution

From Singing to Ringing is a valuable resource for teaching and reinforcing some basic, yet essential, music skills needed to ring handbells. Keeping a steady beat and visually tracking music from beat to beat (and measure to measure) are important skills that handbell ringers must accomplish to be successful. The conventional approach to aid in learning these two skills in a handchime/handbell setting is counting aloud by director and/or ringers. From Singing to Ringing serves the same purpose as counting aloud, but in a more enjoyable and engaging way.  Additionally, rhythms are easier to perform and internalize when sung. If they can sing it, they can ring it!

 

For the Handchime Ensemble

Five Spirituals

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:Bill Ingram
  • Use:Sacred
  • Octaves Used – Select One:2 – 3 Octaves
  • Level:Level 1, Level 1+
  • Topic:General
  • Origin:African American Spiritual
  • Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo:Caution

Bill Ingram continues the popular level one series with five attractive spirituals. One or two move into the level 1+ rating, offering good teaching opportunities while providing satisfying ringing experiences. These will be useful for school, church or concert venues.

 

Morning Songs

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:Bill Ingram
  • Use:Sacred
  • Octaves Used – Select One:2 – 3 Octaves
  • Level:Level 1
  • Topic:General
  • Origin:African American Spiritual, Ireland

Here is a set of three familiar melodies that share the theme of morning. The titles included are “Jesus in the Morning,” “Morning Has Broken,” and “My Lord, What a Morning.” The graduating levels of difficulty of the pieces make this set an ideal selection for the developing ensemble. Since the melodies are familiar, these are excellent teaching pieces to help ringers identify them on the page and work to bring them out when ringing. Because of their versatility, you may find yourself pulling these out every year.

 

Spirituals for Twelve Bells

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:Bill Ingram
  • Use:Sacred, Secular
  • Octaves Used – Select One:12 Note, Small Ensemble
  • Level:Level 2, Level 2+
  • Topic:General, Spiritual
  • Origin:African American Spiritual

As the volume of literature for 12 bells or chimes in F continues to grow, this collection of spirituals will be a welcome addition. The spirituals, listed below, range from lively and bold to reflective and meditative.  With no bell changes (thus no tables needed) there will be many opportunities to use these arrangements.  Contents:  Lord, I Want to Be a Christian; Steal Away; Great Day!; There Is a Balm in Gilead; Every Time I Feel the Spirit

Favorite Handchime Pieces for Lent

Looking for a special piece for Lent that will provide your ringers with a worshipful experience?    At ChimeWorks, we have searched our product store for the most meaningful Lenten pieces that are our favorites.   The recommendations below range from Levels 1 to 3 and include traditional and contemporary classics.  Surely, there is something for everyone on our list!

When choosing repertoire, keep in mind the strengths and weaknesses of your choir such as “chime” changes and complex rhythms, etc.  Also, choose music that they can be prepared comfortably in the amount of rehearsal time involved.  Ringing an easier piece beautifully is more satisfying to the ringer and listener than struggling through a more difficult piece.  If your ringers are relaxed while they ring, they will be able to focus on the message and beauty of the selection.

All of the music below is available for immediate purchase and digital download on the ChimeWorks site:

 

Oh Love, How Deep (3 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Bruce W. Tippette
  • Level: Level 1+

This sturdy hymn tune serves well to set the tone for worship during the Lenten season. It opens with a simple statement of the melody and slowly evolves into an expanded voicing of the original hymn, utilizing LV arpeggios across the ensemble between verses.

 

O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Ludwig Van Beethoven arr. Linda R. Lamb
  • Level: Level 1+

Linda Lamb has combined portions of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” with the hymn tune EBENEZER to create this charming Level 1+ piece. The tune EBENEZER is associated with a variety of other hymn texts including “Once to Every Man and Nation.”

 

What Wondrous Love Is This (2 – 3 Octaves)   (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Susan Geschke
  • Level: Level 1+

This tender setting of the beloved Appalachian folk song may be played by either handbells or handchimes. With minimal bell changes and easy techniques such as shake and echo, this piece provides an excellent opportunity for expressive, sensitive ringing. This arrangement is especially effective during Lent and Holy Week or any time of quiet meditation.

 

Sheep May Safely Graze (2 – 3 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: J. S. Bach arr. Sharon Elery Rogers
  • Level: Level 2-

This gently flowing music is based on one of Bach’s most beautiful, haunting tunes. It is often heard as a choral anthem or a vocal or organ solo. With the constant ringing of solid chords building to a crescendo in the middle section, the use of a few techniques such as TD, mallets, or SK (with vibrato when rung by handchimes) are sprinkled throughout to reach a forte climax. The piece then closes with a more subdued ending.

 

Lamb of God with There Is a Redeemer (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/ArrangerMelody Green, Twila Paris arr. Peggy Bettcher
  • Level: Level 2

Two contemporary classics are set together beautifully in this arrangement.

 

My Jesus, I Love Thee (3 – 6 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Brenda Austin
  • Level: Level 2

Brenda Austin gives us a heartfelt and expressive arrangement of the beloved 19th century hymn. A straight-forward setting of the hymn serves as a contrasting middle section.

 

Pie Jesu (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Andrew Lloyd Webber arr. Douglas E. Wagner
  • Level: Level 2

This beautiful setting from Webber’s Requiem will be a favorite for your ringers and audience.  It is perfect for beginning ringers as it has no “bell” changes.

 

Nearer, My God to Thee (3 – 5 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: Susan Geschke
  • Level:  2

Rising like a gentle prayer, this expressive setting of an old favorite is fresh and memorable. Lush legato ringing creates an elegant beauty that will linger in listeners’ hearts long after the final notes fade away.

 

My Song Is Love Unknown (3 – 7 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger: John Ireland arr. Cathy Moklebust
  • Level: Level 2+
  • Options: Oboe or other C Instrument

This arrangement of English composer John Ireland’s tune LOVE UNKNOWN has been enhanced with an original melody and an optional oboe counter melody.  A minor key in the second verse creates a solemn mood befitting the passion of Jesus. The final verse is triumphant, and features a soaring oboe descant.

 

Walking with Jesus (3 – 6 Octaves)

  • Author/Composer/Arranger:  H. Dean Wagner
  • Level: Level 3

“Walking with Jesus” combines three hymns: “I Want Jesus to Walk with Me” (SOJOURNER), “O Master, Let Me Walk with Thee” (MARYTON) and “Come, O Thou Traveler Unknown” (CANDLER.) This meaningful arrangement takes us on a journey of faith with our Savior through the valleys and mountains of life, and ends in the serene peace of heaven.

Budget-friendly Ringing Collections for Lent and Easter

Lent is right around the corner and if you haven’t begun to plan, now is the time! It’s always fun to shop for music at the beginning of a new budget year as you are not feeling the pressure of eliminating your resources. One smart way of stretching your budget dollars throughout the year is to purchase collections which offer a variety of music bundled together at a discounted price.

With the thought of Lent, Holy Week and Easter happening over the next three months, we offer the considerations below to get you through this holy time. Many of the resources suggested require one copy to be purchased with unlimited photocopying for your organization’s use. For those collections that require a minimum purchase of five, the understanding is that you will order as many copies as you plan to use for your ensemble. For example, a three octave choir with 11 ringers often uses 7 copies – one for the director and the other 6 copies in binders shared by ringers. Licenses are non-transferrable.

All of the suggestions below are available for immediate purchase and digital download on the ChimeWorks site. No waiting and no shipping charges!

 

All Glory and Praise (2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)
• Author/Composer/Arranger: Dan R. Edwards
• Level: Level 2, Level 2+
• Topic: Easter, General, Lent, Palm Sunday, Pentecost
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

Tune sources: American spiritual; ST. THEODULPH; ELLACOMBE; EASTER HYMN; Jean Sibelius; Camille Saint-Saëns; BROTHER JAMES’ AIR; MORECAMBE • Contents: Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley, Palm Sunday Processional (with All Glory, Laud and Honor and Hosanna, Loud Hosanna); Easter Triumph (incorporating Christ the Lord Is Risen Today); The Lord Is My Shepherd; Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart • Levels 2 and 2+ • Ring in the spring with this collection of seasonal favorites carefully selected to highlight Palm Sunday, Easter, as well as other special Sundays in the spring. The selections will be meaningful additions to worship, and can be mastered with minimal rehearsal time.

 

All Things Bright and Beautiful (2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)
• Author/Composer/Arranger: Cathy Moklebust
• Level: Level 1+, Level 2, Level 2+
• Topic: Christmas, Communion, Easter, General, Lent, Palm Sunday
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

Cathy Moklebust’s reproducible collection contains several well-known hymn tune arrangements and original compositions for use during various seasons of the church year. Two of the pieces include instrumental parts. Published in compatible editions for 2-3 and 3-5 octaves, this budget-stretching reproducible collection will be a great addition to the libraries of church handbell choirs. Contents: All Things Bright and Beautiful; All Glory, Laud and Honor; God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens (Brethren, We Have Met to Worship); Calming Peace (Prayer for Kristin); Thee We Adore, O Hidden Savior; Kyrie, Processional on All Glory, Laud and Honor; Now the Green Blade Rises (Sing We Now of Christmas); Christ the Lord Is Risen Today (From the East the Donkey Came)

 

God Reigns, Let Earth Be Glad (2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Anna Laura Page, Bill Ingram, Cathy Moklebust, Kevin McChesney, Sandra Eithun
• Level: Level 1, Level 1+, Level 2
• Topic: General, Lent, Pentecost
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

The collection will be excellent for developing choirs as well as more experienced groups who need music they can learn quickly. Includes: Fairest Lord Jesus; Blessed Assurance; This Is My Father’s World; Lamb of God, Most Holy and Christians, We Have Met to Worship (Holy Spirit, Ever Dwelling
Tune sources: CRUSADER’S HYMN; ASSURANCE; TERRA PATRIS; O LAMM GOTTES, UNSCHULDIG; HOLY MANNA

 

Keep It Simple 2 (2 Octaves)  (3 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Lloyd Larson
• Level: Level 1
• Topic: General, Lent, Praise, Transfiguration
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

Lloyd Larson’s successful series Keep It Simple was created with the beginning choir in mind, these are readily accessible arrangements now available in both a new 2-octave version, and a 3-octave version. Full, lush and dynamic chords characterize these carol and hymn settings. Each selection is ideal for lesser experienced groups as well as ensembles needing to prepare selections with limited preparation time.

 

Ring and Sing the Seasons (3 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Karen Lakey Buckwalter
• Octaves Used – Select One: 3 Octaves
• Level: Level 1, Level 1+
• Topic: Christmas, Easter, General, Lent, Palm Sunday
• Options: Voice

Ring and Sing the Seasons is a reproducible collection comprised of both seasonal and general use hymn arrangements. The arrangements feature very simple rhythms and chords for handbells or handchimes, and unison vocal parts. Also included is an original processional, composed of layered ostinato patterns, with alternate texts for General, Christmas, Palm Sunday and Easter use. In her preface, Karen Lakey Buckwalter writes, “Having served 38 years in full time music ministry, I realized some of the most joyful moments were convincing choirs of all ages that they could ring and sing simultaneously.” One also has the option of having a soloist or vocal choir sing the hymn tune accompanied by the handbell or handchime choir. Separate vocal pages are included for the convenience of non-ringing singers. Contents: The Bells of Christmas; Christians, We Have Met to Worship; God, Who Made the Earth and Heaven; He Is Born; I Want Jesus to Walk with Me; Processional; That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright; This Is My Father’s World

 

Ring Around the Year (3 – 5 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Anna Laura Page, Cathy Moklebust, Kevin McChesney, Margaret R. Tucker, Sondra K. Tucker, Susan Geschke, Valerie W. Stephenson
• Level: Level 2
• Topic: Advent, All Saints/All Souls, Baptism, Christmas, Easter, General, Lent, Palm Sunday, Pentecost, Thanksgiving
• Use Caution with Techniques and/or Tempo: Caution

“Ring Around the Year” provides wonderful handchime music for use throughout the year. Most of the pieces are also suitable for general, non-seasonal use. The seven titles in this collection are written for 3, 4, or 5 octaves. This reproducible collection is designed to meet the needs of handchime choirs by helping to stretch their music budgets. With the purchase of this collection, the original purchasing organization (church, school, or community ensemble) is granted permission to make copies as needed for their ringers.

 

Reproducible Rings II

(2 – 3 Octaves)  (3 – 5 Octaves)

• Author/Composer/Arranger: Lloyd Larson
• Level: Level 2
• Topic: Easter, Holy Week, Lent, Patriotic, Pentecost, Transfiguration

Arranged with the volunteer handbell ringer in mind, these eight hymn settings by Lloyd Larson are quickly learned and ready to perform with limited preparation time. Engaging settings of familiar hymn tunes guarantee broad appeal to both ringers and listeners. Includes: Ah, Holy Jesus; All Glory, Laud and Honor; America The Beautiful, Fairest Lord Jesus, I Know That My Redeemer Lives; Spirit of God, Descend Upon My Heart; The Day of Resurrection and What Wondrous Love Is This

 

Music Literacy in a Snap with Colors and Handchimes

A great New Year’s resolution for any teacher would be to introduce music literacy to more in 2018.  If you have handchimes at your disposal, teaching music reading with the help of colors couldn’t be simpler! At ChimeWorks, we have developed tools for teaching young children to develop eye-hand coordination using colors and symbols and then, systematically moving on to colored-coded notes on the staff and ultimately reading handchime/handbell notation.

We begin by using colors that are closely correlated to those used in Boomwhacker® and KidsPlay® systems.  Therefore, one will be able to use our lesson plans with handchimes and/or Boomwhackers and KidsPlay bells to teach music literacy.  Sensitivity is given to the use of colors alone due to the statistics that 1 in 12 males and 1 in 200 females suffer from color vision deficiency.  Along with a select color for each pitch we have allocated a shape modeled closely to those used in shape-note singing.

Coupled, these symbols are referred to as Icons – non-traditional symbols used to notate music.   They allow students to quickly “read” music without the worry of not knowing standard musical notation.   They also allow students to quickly express themselves at an early-learner stage with known symbols rather than struggling with music notation.  The use of icons develops eye-hand coordination rapidly allowing students to quickly adapt to numbers, pitch names, solfege and then standard music notation.

ChimeWorks has developed Colored Bands which can be wrapped around the handchime tube so that each student can identify a pitch with a color.  In the case of vision deficiency, the shape may also be drawn on to the band.  These bands are available for Malmark, Inc. and be found by clicking here.  Colored bands can be an effective tool in the classroom when denoting pitches and chords.  Using the ChimeWorks Icon Chart, each pitch is assigned a color.  By wrapping the appropriate colored band around the shaft of the handchime tube at the base, you can effectively indicate which handchimes are assigned to pitches or chords.

Since icons are used with non-music readers, they can be utilized with younger children.  These same children may not yet be literate and understand how to track from left to right.  We suggest that great success will be met when the icon chart is presented through a computer-generated slideshow presentation or interactive whiteboard so that the teacher may point to each shape tracking for the students in tempo and rhythm.

Once the students master the melody using icons, they may continue with the Chroma-note® (colored note head) score. Older students may meet success by just having the location of the pitch on the staff on the note designation label which is standard on all brands of handchimes and may be able to move quickly to the handchime score which is in standard music notation.

Icon lesson plans may be found here on the ChimeWorks website.  By introducing these easy to teach lessons, your students will color their world with music through handchimes.

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!

Illuminating Music for Epiphany

It’s difficult to think past Christmas right now but, it is time to prepare for the 5+ weeks before Ash Wednesday on February 14th.  January 6th begins the season of Epiphany just 12 days after Christmas.  Themes for the season are the visit of the Magi, the Baptism of Jesus, the Miracle at Cana and Christ as the Light of the World.  The latter can also be seen as a revelation of Jesus to the world.

When we think Epiphany, we often refer to the Three Kings’ Day.  However, the season has so much more meaning and we can reflect that in the music that we choose for Worship.

 

We’ve compiled a list of titles that will help bring more meaning to this glorious season.  All of which are available for immediate purchase and digital download from the ChimeWorks website:

 

What Star Is This with Beams So Bright – arr. Cathy Moklebust

L1  2 – 3 Octaves or 3 – 5 Octaves

 

A happy, light setting of PUER NOBIS, also subtitled On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry, and That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright, is appropriate for Easter, Advent, or Epiphany. TD, LV, and RT are used.  Learn it now and ring it in April, too!

 

We Three Kings – arr. Valerie Stephenson

L1  2 – 3 Octaves or 3 – 5 Octaves

 

This familiar piece has no more rhythmic difficulty than quarter notes, but it offers some unique challenges. With its dynamic changes, shading and shaping the musical line, ringers can work to develop expressive and musical ringing. Techniques include finger damping and swings.

 

When Morning Gilds the Skies – arr. Karen Roth

L1+  2 – 3 Octaves or 3 – 5 Octaves

 

This setting of the well-known hymn offers excellent opportunities for expressive, musical ringing. It presents ringers with a chance to experience LVs and sensitive, musical ringing of a lovely arrangement.

 

What Star Is This That Beams So Bright – arr. Barbara B. Kinyon

L2-   2 Octaves

 

An easy setting of the tune, PUER NOBIS. May also be used during the Easter season as That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright.

 

One Star – Cheryl J. Rogers/Derek Hakes

L2   3 – 5 Octaves

 

Based on a choral anthem by Cheryl Jones Rogers (CGA460), this handbell transcription effectively captures the beauty and mystery of the original lyrics and music. This flexible piece includes an option for the anthem text to be spoken by a narrator, or, if desired, the bell piece may be used to accompany the singing of the anthem by a vocal soloist or choir.

 

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light – arr. Cathy Moklebust

L2  2 – 3 Octaves or 3 – 5 Octaves with optional C or Bb instrument

 

Kathleen Thomerson’s popular hymn tune HOUSTON has been treated simply and delicately with minimal bell changes and techniques, making this a very accessible arrangement.  A short original melody comprises the introduction, interludes, and ending.  In the second stanza, the upper treble bells/chimes are played with mallets, while the hymn tune is played by the lower treble and bass.  The optional C or Bb instrument makes a lovely addition.

 

Thy Holy Wings – arr. Cathy Moklebust

L2  3- 5 Octaves

 

“Thy Holy Wings” is a delicate, flowing arrangement of the Swedish folk tune BRED DINA VIDA VINGER. It opens and closes with an original melody. The piece is appropriate for services of baptism or confirmation or for themes of guidance, healing, and comfort.

 

I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry – John Ylvisaker/Martha Lynn Thompson

L2  3 – 6 Octaves

 

The ethereal opening and closing motifs, played on randomly-malleted suspended chimes, suggest the mystery surrounding the beginning and ending of life. The music of the stanzas depicts the various stages of life as described in the hymn text.  Mirroring the opening section, the piece grows softer until the final malleted chord. An optional hymn page for vocal soloist is included. If desired, the hymn text may be read by a narrator, beginning each stanza at the places indicated within the score.

 

Children of the Heavenly Father – arr. Cathy Moklebust

L2  3 – 5 Octaves

 

Now in an expanded version, this short, simple arrangement of the beloved Swedish tune, TRYGGARE KAN INGEN VARA, is delicate and lovely. Appropriate for baptism, confirmation, or any time a musical focus on children is desired.

 

We Three Kings – Sondra Tucker

L3  3 – 5 Octaves

 

This ebullient setting of “We Three Kings” evokes the pilgrimage of the Wise Men through the desert.  Judicious use of thumb-damp keeps the texture light.

Ring in the New Year with Appealing Lesson Plans

 

Ring in the New Year with these lesson plans all about bells!  Christmas break is just a few weeks away and will go by swiftly.  Be prepared for the classroom or rehearsal on January 2nd with these easy to teach lessons that will resonate!

For centuries, bells have played a major role in the lives of people around the globe.  They were used to chase away evil spirits and yet, they also rang to center one’s own inner self.  We hear bells to sound an alarm but also to gather us into communities.  Peals ring at joyful times such as weddings and also, mourn those we have lost.  Bells come in all shapes and sizes and continually reverberate in our lives.

At ChimeWorks, we have created the following lesson plans to celebrate the joy of ringing.  Surely, bells are worth singing about!

All of the lesson plans below are available for immediate purchase and digital download with license to copy as much as needed:

 

Frère Jacques

Frère Jacques is a traditional French nursery rhyme.  This song is about a monk who has overslept and is urged to wake up and sound the bells for the matins, the midnight or very early morning prayers for which a monk would be expected to wake.

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2, 3 – 6
  • Type: Ostinati
  • Canon: Yes
  • Topic: Bells
  • Language: English, French
  • Origin: France

 

Frère Jacques II

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2
  • Type: Icons
  • Canon: Yes
  • Topic: Bells, Nursery Rhyme
  • Language: English, French
  • Origin: France

 

Great Tom is Cast

Great Tom Is Cast is an English round traditionally sung in three parts.  It tells the story of the completion of the great bell of Christ Church, Oxford.  The great bells in England are given names. “Tom” is the name of the great bell of Christ Church.  The bell tower is also known as “Tom Tower”.

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

 

Oh, How Lovely

Oh, How Lovely is a German round traditionally sung in three parts.  It was brought to the United States during the early 19th century.

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: 3 – 6
  • Type: Ostinati
  • Canon:Y es
  • Topic: Bells, Evening
  • Language: English
  • Origin: Germany

 

St. Paul’s Steeple

St. Paul’s Steeple is a traditional English folk song dating from the mid-17th century.

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: K – 2
  • Type: Scales
  • Topic: Bells
  • Language: English
  • Origin: England

 

 The Bell Doth Toll

The Bell Doth Toll is a three-part canon taken from the Twice 55 Song Collection published in 1918.  Its origin is anonymous.

  • Use: Secular
  • Level: 3 – 6
  • Type: Ostinati
  • Canon: Yes
  • Topic: Bells
  • Language: English
  • Origin: England

 

The Great Bells of Oseney

Oseney Abbey, once located in Oxford, was founded as an Augustinian priory in 1129, becoming an abbey around 1154. It was dissolved in 1539 but was created a cathedral at that time. It was one of the four renowned monastic houses of medieval Oxford.  It no longer stands.  The Tenor bell is the largest, heaviest and lowest sounding pitch in a peal of bells.

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

Hanukkah Lesson Plans using Handchimes

Looking for Hanukkah lesson plans using handchimes? Lessons of light and dedication are perfect to teach in December as many around the world commemorate Hanukkah.  ChimeWorks has assembled lesson plans below that sing of Hanukkah, peace and joy!

But first, more about Hanukah as explained by Chabad.org.  It is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods.

The Hebrew word Chanukah means “dedication,” and is thus named because it celebrates the rededication of the Holy Temple.  It is also spelled Hanukkah.

In the second century BC, the Holy Land was ruled by the Seleucids (Syrian-Greeks), who tried to force the people of Israel to accept Greek culture and beliefs instead of mitzvah observance and belief in God. Against all odds, a small band of faithful Jews, led by Judah the Maccabee, defeated one of the mightiest armies on earth, drove the Greeks from the land, reclaimed the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and rededicated it to the service of God.

When they sought to light the Temple’s Menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), they found only a single cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination by the Greeks. Miraculously, they lit the menorah and the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days, until new oil could be prepared under conditions of ritual purity.

To commemorate and publicize these miracles, the sages instituted the festival of Hanukkah.

At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting. The menorah holds nine flames, one of which is the shamash (“attendant”), which is used to kindle the other eight lights. On the first night, one flame is lit. On the second night, an additional flame is lit. By the eighth night of Hanukkah, all eight lights are kindled.

Special blessings are recited, often to a traditional melody, before the menorah is lit, and traditional songs are sung afterward.

A menorah is lit in every household (or even by each individual within the household) and placed in a doorway or window. The menorah is also lit in synagogues and other public places.

The lesson plans below are available for immediate purchase and digital download at $2.29 each:

 

Hanukkah using Icons

Hanukkah II using Chords

Good and Joyous using Ostinati

Greeting of Peace using Chords

Hava Nagila using Chords

Shalom Chaverim using Chords

Toembai using Chords

Toembai II using Ostinati