Top Handbell Pieces for Children and Beginners

June 18, 2024 Melody Martin

Handbell music holds a unique place in the realm of parish music education and congregational worship. Its blend of teamwork, rhythm, and melody offers a rich experience for children, fostering both musical skill and spiritual connection. When building a handbell music program within your school or congregation, selecting compositions that guide beginners will help them take their first steps into handbell music confidently. Let’s explore the top handbell pieces that make learning handbells accessible and add a touch of beauty to church services.

Ringing with Childlike Joy

984128When searching for an arrangement to introduce to new handbell players, Make Joyful Music by Barry L. Bobb offers a simple melody and an accessible technique level. This composition is a setting within the Concordia Children’s Series that uses the uplifting language of Psalm 100, as paraphrased by Don Petering, to create a gentle melody that can be accompanied by handbells. The vocal line is designed for unison or two-part children’s voices, and the simple accompaniment can be played by children, utilizing either handbells or Orff instruments. The selected text from Psalm 100 can be used year-round, or highlighted during Easter. This versatile setting can incorporate beginners in other ways, including a flute or recorder doubling the melody or a young pianist playing the accompaniment.

Easter and Christmas Hymns for Handbells

976035podThe beautiful resonance of handbells shines in this musical portrait of Easter joy, and Ten Hymn Accompaniments for Handbells, Set 2 allows a beginner-level handbell ensemble to join with the congregation in Easter hymns. These handbell settings of Lent and Easter hymns are intended for use by congregations with at least a three-octave set of bells. These settings may be used as alternate hymn stanza accompaniments for choirs or as accompaniments when the hymn is sung by the choir as an anthem in worship or concert, alternating with a keyboard accompaniment. Just as handbells can contribute exuberance to Easter, they can offer peace to the Christmas season. O Come, All Ye Faithful / The First Nowell by Sandra Eithun uses two or three octaves of handbells and requires level one techniques. These settings based on ADESTE FIDELES and THE FIRST NOWELL are a beautiful introduction for a beginner handbell ensemble playing in the Christmas and Advent seasons.

Hymn Arrangements for the Church Year

976158podNine Easy Hymn Arrangements for Handbells or Choir Chimes by Raymond Herbek offers accessible two-octave handbell arrangements for beginning handbell ensembles. With classic hymns like “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”; “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”; and “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” this collection of arrangements offers options for various seasons of the Church Year. These arrangements can help a beginning ensemble to start playing preludes, offertories, and hymn introductions.

These versatile compositions can serve as a first step for new handbell players and children to serve God through music. By involving children in the musical life of the church, these resources not only nurture their musical talents but also deepen their spiritual connection to the worship service. Whether performed by a dedicated children’s handbell choir or integrated into the larger ensemble, these pieces bring color and resonance to recognizable hymn tunes that help the congregation focus on God’s Word.

Browse a wide selection of handbell music for ringers of all levels below.

Browse Handbell Music

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