A New Twist on Tower Bell Ringing – Handbells!

Recently we’ve been trying a new twist on Bell Ringing – handbells!  Many other towers have used handbell ringing as a way to practice methods (off-site from the bell tower), but so far, our group has never mastered it.  But, with the help of our trusty guidebook, “The Beginner’s Guide to Change Ringing on Handbells”, and a beautiful set of Whitechapel handbells (loaned to us by a local ringing friend), we decided to give it a try.

Although handbell ringing does not require the same physical strength as ringing tower bells, it does have the added mental challenge of mastering two different bells at the same time.  This makes it a great way to practice your methods indoors, and get a break from the cold temperature of the outdoor tower!  Like tower ringing, it also requires concentration, teamwork, and good humor to laugh at your own mistakes.  We are looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish in the coming weeks and months!

 

Bells Ringing – A Christmas Meditation

Imagine yourself sitting on the side of a hill. The sun has just set, and the stars are appearing. One by one they appear, until all you can see are tiny sparkles, filling an endless black sky. Though you don’t yet know it, you are witness to a new era.

It is a peaceful night, and you can hear your sheep softly calling one another, as you marvel at the stars. Your friends build a fire, and you get up to help them. Minutes later, a blazing fire warms you and your supper of bread, broth, and meat. You eat, filling your belly as you talk with friends, all the while keeping an eye on the sheep.

After the meal, you decide who will take the first watch; then, you lie back on the earth. The ground cover is soft and cool. Just as you drift off to sleep, a blinding light flashes above you. Confused, you sit up and shield your eyes from the too brilliant light.  You hear melodious voices, angelic voices, singing praises to God and glorifying Him. With deafening beauty, they tell you to go to Bethlehem, and in a manger, you will find the Christ Child. The lights and voices vanish.

In shock, you look around and see your friends equally so. Together you decide you must do what the heavenly lights and voices have ordained. Shepherds and sheep journey to Bethlehem.

Upon reaching the town, you find a young mother and father cradling a baby. They took shelter in a manger, surrounded by livestock. You are blessed to play a part in this strange and beautiful tableau and sense something special about the child.

Two-thousand years later, we have bells and their joyous calling to remind us of the angels’ song. The angels’ song that brought the shepherds to the Christ Child…and the ever-present angels’ song emanating from our bell tower, call us back to God.  During Christmas ringing, we remember the shepherds and the angels’ visit that stand as holy examples of praise, obedience, and blessing.