The Bells

Hear the sledges with the bells
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

-Edgar Allan Poe, The Bells

I never miss an opportunity to throw in a Poe quote, do I? Go on with your creepy self, Edgar. Beautiful words. At any rate, I’m thinking a lot about bells this week, and Poe’s masterpiece came to mind.

We’re headed for Fall and I’m thinking about handbells. I love handbells. I really do. Ha! Let the Handbell Dork jokes fly! I have a sense of humor about it. I figure everybody is somebody else’s weirdo.

Our church has a magnificent set of handbells (truly), and I’m hard at work sorting far-flung boxes and boxes (and boxes and boxes) of music, finding the bell tables and stands, choosing music, putting books/folders together, and even writing and arranging music for the Handbell Ensemble at St. Luke’s.

Rather than doing a wall-of-people-at-tables-out-front performance sort of thing, my preferred approach to the handbells is a bit different. I see those crystalline tones as an organic part of a whole. Perhaps the bells chime the hour or play a prelude from the organ loft. Perhaps they support a hymn along with the pipe organ. Perhaps a simple, quiet solo or duet serves as special music. Small. Simple. Organic. I’m aiming for a quartet, or an octet at most.

Is it too weird to be dreaming of Christmas music in August? Ding dong.

You have a great day too!

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Bells

  1. That is awesome Phil!!!
    i know that the bell players are fast dying off and there are few up comming bell players.

    Anyone that has heard them being played by those that really know how to do it will agree that this art must NOT die!

    They cost a fortune too so handle them with care my good man!
    We have a group that play around here at Christmas time and they are all in their 70s and 80s.

  2. Oh i can hear that beautiful sound already all the way over here!

  3. Herbs

    Ooooo Phil, I love handbells! What about having them all around the church to chime in with all your other instruments for a surround sound concert?

  4. I love it. The bells are beautiful too, and so cool that you’re resurrecting them from dark corners. I hope you manage to record some of the music so we can hear it too.

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