Have you noticed how grumpy many people are today? I sure have. I believe with all of my heart, that is in part because no one has been to the symphony, seen a broadway show, sang in their church choir or rang in a handbell festival in months and months. Our souls are crying out to be part of a musical experience again.
There are so many challenges facing us today. We need to keep the safety of our communities as our top priority. With that being said, I believe that we also need to consider our spiritual and emotional health as well. Where and when it is possible to do so safely, let’s begin to ring again. It may look different from what we “normally” do. But, what would it look like to ring today? Ringers wearing masks, each ringer at their own table or music stand at a safe distance from one another, no shared equipment. Perhaps ringing outside?? What are the possibilities?
Martha Lynn Thompson adds another set of six settings to her highly successful series of Ring with 6 collections. Each arrangement uses 14-22 bells and is easily playable by six ringers. Three pieces have optional handchimes. A “Bells Used Chart” for each piece provides suggested assignments. No four-in-hand ringing is required but, because some ringers have more than two bells, it is necessary to have a table or a place to put the additional bells. Three of the hymns are suitable for general occasions, one is appropriate for either Palm Sunday or Advent, and rounding out the collection is Natalie Sleeth’s beautiful “Were You There on That Christmas Night?”
If you’re reading this, you certainly don’t need me to tell you that 2020 has been a heartbreaking year. Amid the closing of Broadway and theaters around the country, church choirs on indefinite hiatus, community bands not meeting, summer conferences cancelled, school choirs, bands, and orchestras scrambling to find ways to teach, and all manner of music-making ground to a halt, one thing stands: the desire of musicians to make music. We need it like we need air to breathe.
The ingenuity of those who have adapted online platforms to create virtual ensembles lifts my spirits, as do the rank and file people who have braved the technological hurdles to participate. It’s not quite the same as being in the same room, but it is fulfilling, nonetheless.
I am here to suggest that one way to keep your music-making alive is to take up handbell ringing, or resurrect it, or continue it, depending on your situation. The Handbell Industry Council, which includes manufacturers of handbells and peripheral equipment, publishers, and elite performing organizations, has guidelines for ringing safely on their web site:
Contributed by Steve Shorney, Vice President – Hope Publishing
Hope is proud to celebrate its 125th anniversary this year! We were founded in 1892 in Chicago, Illinois. The company was formed in an effort to provide songbooks for hymn singing at Methodist evangelical meetings. The founders of the company christened the name Hope Publishing Company from their motto, “all we have is hope” which defined their feelings when starting the fledgling business. The Shorney family has been running Hope Publishing from its beginning and the current owners, John, Scott and Steve Shorney, are the fourth generation of family management.