Today’s new arrangement is for LSB 395 – O MORNING STAR, HOW FAIR AND BRIGHT. This arrangement is a departure from typical handbell music. Instead of staves with notes to indicate when each bell rings, this notation is for ringing chords. Known as “chordal ringing”, this form of using handbells – or handchimes – helps new musicians get into ringing really quick. They don’t have to know how to read music; they can focus on the ringing techniques.
On the first page, there are two tables. The first defines each chord symbol by showing which bells play for each chord in the song. The second table shows the chord names for each of the bells; there’s a column to indicate the ringers’ names so that readily know which chord their bell plays on. Then on the subsequent sheets, the text of the hymn is printed along with the chord symbol. Each ringer should be given their own copy – no sharing of music! Have them use one color to highlight or circle all the chord symbols that their left bell rings in; then use a different color to mark the chords for their right bell. Note that every octave of a given bell rings in the chord where that bell name shows up. So you can do this style of ringing with as few or as many octaves as you have ringers to cover.
Play the chords as noted, giving the words the rhythm from the melody line. Be sure to damp the bells that are not part of the next chord. I find chordal ringing works best for well-known hymns. As an option, have a solo instrument – flute, trumpet, violin – play the melody line while the bells ring the chords.
For more information and some detailed instructions, read the “Ringing Chordal Patterns” section of Using Handchimes, by Janet van Valey and Susan Berry.