Monday, 19 December 2011

Handbell Ringing in Studley Chapel and Potterne Church.

Bells in the lower octaves waiting to be rung at the Studley Chapel service.
Sunday was a busy day.  We played some carols in Studley Chapel, with the congregation singing along as best they could.  It is not easy pitching a tune to handbells, but our voices won the day.  Take a close look at the marked up music.  I play three bells, A Bb and B, and each note I must play is ringed with a colour.  I can read music, but it is easy to follow even if you cannot, which means that anyone with a sense of rythmn can ring handbells, you just need to be able to count the beats in a bar.  We have a set of bells that covers four octaves, and at the moment nine of us play.  With at least three bells each, sometimes page turning and juggling the bells induces a mild panic!

More than an octave of middle range bells.
The Victorian Wesleyan chapel, built in 1855 is charming, and remains almost as it was way back the mid 19th century, and that includes an almost total lack of heating. I was very pleased that I'd worn thick socks, boots, gloves and a winter jacket.   During the service, I felt as though I were character from Thomas Hardy's "Under the Greenwood Tree," the enchanting story about the rustics in the Mellstock choir and the group of rural musicians who accompany the singing in Mellstock church.   I was playing and singing in a time warp.
Studley's tiny Wesleyan Chapel dated 1855 with its fine beaded, arched windows.
At 5.30pm we met again in Potterne Church to play a selection of music for the congregation as they arrived for the evening Carol Service.  The photo below shows the higher sounding small bells, so many that each play must play four at a time.  It is quite an art lacing the bells together and ringing each one in a diffent direction to produce the sounds.  I'm a beginner, so I have an easier task with only three bells to ring, but I hope to progress.  Handbell ringing was one of the  activities on my "Must do before I leave the planet" list.  I am so pleased to be a member of this very friendly group of ringers.
The small bells that ring the higher notes, waiting to be played in Potterne Church

Potterne's medieval church up on its hill

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