"Shout for joy in the LORD, O you righteous!  Praise befits the upright.  Give thanks to the LORD with the lyre; make melody to him with the harp of ten strings!  Sing to him a new song.."
Psalm 33 1-3a

PRACTICES for  Mixed Choir are held on Tuesday's 6:45p.m.  The choir always welcomes new singers to join. (9th grade and older) September through Pentecost Sunday.

BELL PRACTICES  for the Ringers of Hope Adult Handbell Choir are held on Tuesdays from 5:30-6:30   September through Pentecost Sunday.

The Youth Music on Tuesdays:  Youth Handbell Choir:  4:15-5:40 Chancel Choir:  5:45-5:25  September through Pentecost Sunday

Nicole Leppala, Music Director
contact information:
e-mail [email protected]
church phone:  517-669-3930

What You Didn’t Know About Handbell Choirs...and more!


On Sunday mornings when you walk into the church and hear the handbell choir, you might think “Ahh, the sound of bells, it must be a special day.”  You might think, “I love the sound of bells.”  You may be someone who likes watching the bell choir ring, or someone who wants to sit back and listen.   What we do know about handbells is that when played they sound bright or festive.  We know that when played a certain way they make “different” sounds.  We also know that when paired up with a certain kind of composition, the bells sound not so festive, maybe even sad.  


But did you know…….

….That the history of the modern handbell, as played by choirs, ensembles or solo ringers is often traced back to 17th century England where they were used as instruments for change ringing—“a method of ringing tower bells according to mathematical sequences.”

….That the bell is an ancient instrument.  Many cultures have incorporated bells into their religious ceremonies.  References in Exodus 28:33-35 and 39:25-26 indicate bells were included in Hebrew worship and were an acceptable instrument of praise.  Recognizing that bells were part of the Old Testament worship seemed only natural that their use was carried over into early Christian worship.  When Christianity became an officially accepted religion, small hand-held bells and larger suspended bells summoned worshipers together.  By the 15th century other uses for bells came into being.  They were used to give pitch for vocal music, especially in processions.  It is because of the sustaining quality of their tone that sets them apart as unique percussive instruments.  This particular trait, more than any other, was the reason for bells came to have a strong identity with spiritual rituals.

….That the use of bells in liturgical worship has a long history.  All Catholic churches were equipped with at least two bells.  One was hung high on the doorpost between the sacristy and sanctuary.  The acolyte would ring this bell as he and the priest entered the sanctuary, signaling the congregation to stand for the beginning of Mass.  The other bell was on the altar steps and was usually a cluster of small bells shaken from a single handle.  The acolyte would ring these bells at the singing of the Sanctus and other times during the consecrating of the bread and wine.  Some churches called these bells the Sanctus bell.  Churches sometimes had bells in their towers and rang them to call the neighborhood to church, to celebrate weddings and to toll for funerals.

….That the Lutheran, Anglican and Calvinist reformers endeavored to rid bell-ringing of its old superstitions and profanations.  They condemned their use to drive away demons and bad weather, and discouraged their use as an aid to dying.  Martin Luther’s writings reflect some of the traditional uses for bells as, for example, when he noted their use on August 18, 1532, upon the death of Elector John Fredrick of Saxony and remarked that “the ringing of bells sound different than usual when one knows that the deceased is somebody one loves.”  Luther also remarked that “ringing the Pacem is in many places meant to let the people know the time of the morning, or of evening when it is time to leave the fields for home.” 

…..That while bells so far described are little more than signals to regulate the church’s life and worship, as well as to mark its festivities and mourn losses, tower bells in the course of history came to be organized into bona fide musical instruments.  For today, bells are appreciated for their musical potential and for their role in ritual movement.  They make ceremony of the gathering of the assembly, they celebrate weddings, toll for funerals, they add splendor to festive processions on Palm Sunday.  They escort the Bible to the center aisle for the proclamation of the Gospel and then ring jubilantly on its return.  They ring to the endless singing of congregational psalms, hymns, anthems, spiritual songs and acclamations of all sorts by the assembled people of God. 

….That the English Handbell Ringing, in its most medieval form, started between the 11th and 16th Centuries.  The handbell ringing we know today was developed in 1732 with the first change ringing concert performed by the Ancient Society of College Youths in Calais.  In 1923 Margaret Shurcliff of Boston, Mass. organized a group of handbell ringers called The Beacon Hill Ringers.  Mrs. Schurcliff’s influence led to the formation of numerous ringing groups.  In the late 1940’s, handbells were introduced into churches and schools.  The American Guild of English Handbell Ringers (AGEHR) was formed in 1954. 

Ringers work just as hard as any performers to prepare a piece of music for others to listen to and be inspired by.  There is a difference between entertainment and worship.  Handbell ringers are servants of the assembly’s action rather than soloists, and always associate their ringing with the text and action of the liturgy.  There are many aspects to playing in the handbell choir of the church.  Once the handbell choir thinks of themselves as a liturgical choir of the church, and understands their role in the liturgical service, the music they present reflects relevance of day.

But did you know……

…..Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, each person in a handbell choir is responsible for at least 2 notes of the composition and without them, there may not be a melody.

…..Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, their “work space” uses at least 36 feet of table and padding and at least 37 bells to create the music, that can only be played with at least 12 ringers.  Of course there are times were the music will call for less, but less does not lessen their importance.

….Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, they use, mallets, wear gloves, use folders filled with a plethora of music, stands to hold these folders, ring, count and turn pages all at the same time!

….Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, can set up their “work space” in 10-15 minutes, but take down in less than 5!

….Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, are the most ambitious, energetic, and bold musicians.  Partly because the old saying in handbell ringing goes- better never, than late!   To play or not to play, becomes the question. 

….Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, ripping of velco from the gloves is a common sound. Polishing cloths are just another tool used, and did I mention—paper clips!   Without paper clips, those pages may never get turned.

….Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, terms like Martellato, Gyro (no not the sandwich), Echo, Mallet Lift, and Tower Swing—mean absolutely nothing.

….Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, the e and a is a terrifying, but gratifying thing—when accomplished. 

….Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, your neighbor takes on a different meaning when a shared bell or page turn is called for.

…..And Finally….Unlike other choirs, or ensembles, it is the only group where counting is so important that without it, the handbell choir may never be able to play a note!

Music ministers do not “do music “for” the people, instead they work to share themselves with people through both their music and faith life expressed by their whole personal presence.   Eugene Walsh

Our handbell choir at Hope provides music for many aspects of our Liturgical worship, and fellowship of music through the concerts they give.  We strive to inspire God’s Word through handbell ringing.  Bells call people to worship, bells inspire.

                                Laudo Deum verum, plebum, voco, congrego clerum,
                                     I praise the true God, I summon the people, I gather the clergy

                                Vox mea, vox vitae, voco vos sacrae venite,
                                        My voice, voice of life, I call you, come to divine worship.

Nicole Leppala, Music Director 

†Worship and The Hymn of the Day

The hymn of the day is the principle hymn in the divine service.  It is called the hymn of the day because it fits the specific day and season in the church year.  It is the hymn that responds most intimately to the dominant theme of the day, which is usually contained in the Gospel reading.  Historically, in the Lutheran tradition, it was called the “Gradual hymn” because it was sung between the Epistle reading and the Gospel.

The hymn of the day can be used with your weekly Bible study at home.  All the hymns can be found in the Lutheran Service Book.

 ORDER OF WORSHIP:  Divine Service Setting One and Three throughout September, October, November and December pages 151 and 184 respectively in the Lutheran Service Book (LSB).  Divine Service Setting Four from the Lutheran Service book will be use during the season of Epiphany.  Divine Setting Three will be used during Lent.

Our Choirs

Gloria Deo Bells and Sanctus Choir

Mixed Choir on Pentecost Sunday 2011 A.D. 


Ringers of Hope on Trinity Sunday 2011 A.D. 


Our Hope and Consolation

Our Hope and Consolation,
to Christ alone we trace;
He pleads for our salvation in that most Holy Place;
Before the Father's throne,
Christ brings a crimson treasure,
Surpassing human measure,
Which did our world atone

St. 1 text,  Stephan Starke b. 1955
Tune:  Von Gott Will Ich Nicht Lassen

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