In the Fall of 2016 we renewed the hand bell program that had been dormant for some years. The playing of hand bells has been a wonderful source of musical experiences for the members, and for what they are able to add to the services of worship. They contribute, peals, preludes, special enhancements on hymns and psalms , and accompaniments conceived by composers for their anthems.
The choir began with four stalwart members; Debbie Anderson, Sara Dooley, Kim Sirean, and Patti Teele. By any standard, a full choir would be eight players for the three octaves of bells the church owns. We have reached out to the youth, the Mandarin congregation, and have conducted workshops. Midway, Kathy Macauley joined, and recently Jenine Baines and Phyllis Scorcia have also joined. So there are seven members currently.
We rehearse weekly, and play in church approximately once a month (Sept.-June.) Many parishioners approach us and tell us how much they appreciate hand bells being part of worship services. Hand bells are so “English”!
Our ringers have expanded their horizons and are now able to ring with multiple techniques and are able to play a wider variety of repertoire because of it. In December of 2018, the dream of acquiring a “belltree” came to fruition, and it further expanded ways that hand bell sounds can be expressed. The choir members fully appreciate being an integral component of the music program at COS.
Like any mechanical device, after time bells require maintenance and about every ten years, a refurbishing. Several of the bells are plain broken, and many need voicing, and small worn parts replaced. A former bell member, Beth Mays is a factory certified technician, and we are praying that the church will see fit to fund the refurbishment that Beth would be able to do for us. This needs to happen.
We are all grateful for the support the church gives us in order for us to thrive as a wonderful musical group. As a director, I am very proud of our hand bell members, and we are all hard workers, and entirely enjoy what we do. Hand bells are special!