How Did Hand Bells and Hand Chimes Get Included?

Evolution, Serendipitous, or Destiny?

Use of Hand Bells and Hand Chimes as part of the Hymns and Songs for Living recording may seem unusual. The use of Hand Bells and/or Hands Chimes as an accompaniment to singing of congregational hymns is not a common, everyday choice. Hand Bells are quite percussive and are most commonly used as a performing instrument, occassionally in combination with other instruments. Hand Chimes are a bit more mellow and friendly to vocal singing. So how did they get included on the Hymn and Songs for Living recording? 

This story has similarities to other stories on this website. Examples include:

In the case of Hand Bells, which led to Hand Chimes, David's meeting at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church to arrange use of their pipe organ to replace the electronic keyboard simulated organ accompaniments, caused him to notice the church's set of Hand Bells temporarily sitting on the side of the room. Upon observing the Hand Bells being in the pastor's office where they were meeting, he was informed they were only there temporarily, while the choir room was being refurbished.  Was that just by serendipitous happenstance, or destiny?

Appeal of Hand Bell and Hand Chime Sounds

That reminded David of how appealing the sounds of Hand Bells can be.  That sparked thinking about the possibility of including Hand Bells as an accompaniment to the last verse of:

Initially we reached out to the music Director at Duncan Memorial UMC. But then the COVID-19 pandemic struck and the church went into lockdown.

That left us with three impediments to solve to be able to record Hand Bell accompaniments:

Need for Arrangements

All the music that could be found on the web for both hymns, Just A Closer Walk with Thee and Amazing Grace, were for performance by Hand Bells as the solo instruments, versus being an accompaniment to vocalists singing the hymns, plus, the performance scores were not in the keys of the hymns from the hymnals.

Therefore, Mr. Goettee contacted a number of persons listed on the Handbell Musicians' Association webpage where they indicated they wrote arrangements.

(If anyone is interested, the Handbell Musicians' Association webpage for handbell clinicians can be found at Handbell Clinicians.)


Of those who responded, Mr. Larry Sue had the time to undertake this project. Based on the producer's preferences for including lower bass bells, Mr. Sue was provided with pdf copies of the music from the hymnals used to record the hymns, plus mp3s of the vocal recordings. Mr. Sue put together arrangements that included the use of Bells and Chimes in the lower octaves.

Thus, the impediment of arrangements as accompaniments in the keys of the hymns was addressed.

You can see Mr. Sue's credits under Phase II Arrangers at Larry Sue - Handbell Arranger.


Your Judgement?

So, as in the story About Tortoise Climbing, it is up to the reader to decide. Was inclusion of Hand Bells and Hand Chimes on this album a logical evolution, serendipitous happenstance, or perhaps destiny?