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The Future of Handbells in Church Music

As some churches move toward high-tech services with more modern music, some may consider handbells old fashioned, out of date, or just not interesting. But handbell ensembles have specific benefits that can’t be matched by other types of ensembles. Because of their unique, irreplaceable roles, they are as important in the church as they have ever been.

Handbell ensembles reflect 1 Corinthians 12:12: “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ” (ESV). Each member of a handbell ensemble contributes specific notes to the musical line. Without even one of those notes, the entire line would be lost. A handbell ensemble is an ideal place to help members see the value of their contributions to the church as well as to reinforce this important Bible teaching.

Handbell ensembles offer one of the easiest ways for people to get involved in music ministry. Because handbells require minimal training to play, it is easy for new ringers to join even if they don’t have prior music experience. Members who are hesitant to get involved in music ministry for that reason can find that joining a handbell ensemble is an easy way to participate in music ministry.

Handbells have a unique sound that can’t be replaced by other instruments. On special days like Easter and Christmas, handbells may have a more appropriate sound than other types of music. What instrument could better represent the bright majesty of Jesus’ resurrection or the angels’ glory at Christmas?

A set of handbells can sometimes be less expensive than a piano or organ. If a church must decide between different instruments to purchase, handbells may be a more affordable option.

Kids think handbells are awesome! Because children find handbells fun and easy to learn, they may especially enjoy playing handbells and can easily join in music ministry. In a children’s choir, even just a couple handbells can greatly add to the sound without making much extra work for children and music directors.

No matter where music heads in the future, handbells can always offer unique benefits for both churches and individual ringers. We hope your church keeps the legacy of handbells alive by giving your members opportunities to glorify God through participating in handbell ensembles!


To see all of this year's new handbell pieces, view our 2017 catalog, or visit CPH.org to shop the new releases.

View the 2017 Music Catalog
Written by

Mark Knickelbein

Mark Knickelbein is editor of music/worship at Concordia Publishing House and an active composer and church musician. His compositional focus is on choral, piano, and organ church music. He has a Bachelor of Science in education from Martin Luther College, New Ulm, MN, and a Master of Arts in music from Concordia University Chicago. He previously served Trinity Lutheran in Kaukauna, WI, as principal, teacher, organist, and choir director.

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