The playing of bells can produce sounds that are beautifully mysterious. And when a multigenerational group of people work cooperatively to produce them, they develop both individual skills and group musical sensitivity. Best of all, they experience fellowship and caring for each other as members of the body of Christ. In the sharing of a common task and goal, the community of a bell choir represents the larger picture of Christ’s body, the church.
A bit of history: Handbells are percussion instruments that originated in England in the 17th century. They were originally used in religious ceremonies, but presently their use extends to secular groups as well. Handbells are a simple instrument with a complex playing style, ranging from ringing one bell, to up to four bells played in one hand. Handbells are constructed from bronze and other metals. Unlike a school bell, the clapper can only move back and forth. English handbells are crafted using traditional materials, such as a leather clapper and handle, whereas American handbells are crafted using modern materials, such as plastic handles. Handbells can weigh as little as seven ounces and as much as 19 lbs.