FUN FACTS: The tradition of using bells in worship goes back centuries, and the use of hand bells dates to the 16th century. The modern handbell was developed around the turn of the 18th century in England and handbells were first brought to the United States in 1902. Our 3 octaves of handbells were made by Schulmerich of Pennsylvania, and they have played a part in worship services at First Congregational Church, Eugene for over 40 years.

Our handbell choir is currently celebrating the addition of a new bell to our ensemble. The addition of this bell to our collection expands the choice of repertoire that our choir is able to present. A very large bell, weighing in at 5 pounds and ringing the low F3 pitch, was offered for sale by a church in Virginia which had a duplicate bell. We were able to purchase this bell with monies generously given to the Bell Fund, a restricted account dedicated to the maintenance and needs of our bell choir. The choir is eager to share the sound of this beautiful bell with the congregation, so they will present an anthem in worship on May 26 which will include this new bell.

For decades church members have volunteered their time to learn and practice the art of bell ringing. Playing in a handbell choir has many social aspects, each player being responsible for their particular pitches to be played in a piece of music, so teamwork and camaraderie are a natural part of the experience. Other benefits to the players include improving mental alertness, listening skills, and physical coordination. Typical of church bell choirs, we have a wide spectrum of ringers, from those who are experienced professionals, able to ring many bells, to those who are complete beginners, learning to ring one bell in each hand at the proper time. Our current bell choir has grown to include 10 regular ringers who meet weekly to learn music to present in worship. Fun and laughter are a part of every rehearsal as our friendships grow.

If you would like to support our Bell Choir, you could either join us on Tuesdays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. for a rehearsal, or give to the church Bell Fund (indicate in the check’s memo line “bell fund”).