One of my favorite types of music-making groups is a bell choir. People who ring bells together bring with them a heightened sense of dedication to music, and to each other. If a singer is missing from a vocal group, other singers will still sing the same notes, and the song will go on. In a hand bell choir, each ringer is solely responsible for two (or more) assigned pitches. If the ringer is missing, the notes do not sound, and the song is incomplete. Members of a bell choir are very dependent on each other-— first just to be present, and second—to ring the right bell at the right time. This fosters a uniquely deep relationship.
Here at St. Luke’s, we have seen a loving community borne out in our Chancel Bell Choir in an amazing way. On June 26, 2017, one of our vibrant young ringers suffered a massive stroke. She was just the right age to be my own daughter, and was a new mommy, too. It took my breath away to think of this happening to one of my people. Many different groups at St. Luke’s – Moms’ Bible study, Sunday School class, prayer shawl ministry, as well as the bell choir – rallied around her and her family, offering prayers, food, lodging, transportation and lots of love.
After months of hard work, her doctors agreed that returning to the bell choir might be a good thing. This bell choir is blessed with some who are especially equipped to help: twelve ringers who know how to love and care for each other, including an educator, who is a volunteer handbell therapist. With some detailed information about her progress, this therapist, well acquainted with learning theory, was able to adapt our songs to meet her where she is. Our devotion to each other as a group rose to new heights the first day she came to rehearsal. Suddenly we were – and have continued to be – much, MUCH more than a hand bell choir.
When in our music God is glorified,
And adoration leaves no room for pride,
It is as though the whole creation cried Alleluia!