When mentioning Amazing Grace, different renditions pop in our heads. Some hear it as a traditional church hymn. Others hear a jazzier southern gospel version. Yet others hear the tones of a solemn bagpipe honoring a fallen hero.
For a variety of reasons, it’s been a well since I’ve mentioned our bell choir. This Sunday we ring this time-honored song not as a traditional hymn, nor as a gospel favorite, or even as a solemn tune – but actually as a peaceful tune as Gift of Grace (arranged by Arnold Sherman).
Watch the arrangement below performed by a church in Taiwan. Interestingly, this version starts with an 80-second bagpipe solo that transitions into the handbells; so if bagpipes aren’t your thing, just skip ahead.
About 5 years ago our church started a chime choir for adults. Since my wife wanted to get back into music, she jumped at the opportunity, and I joined her the following week to raise the total membership to five. Although all of us had musical backgrounds, none of us had experience with chimes or bells. I still recall our first “performance” as each of us had 8-10 chimes in front of us to play — and we didn’t have experience!
We’ve steady grown through the years in both numbers and abilities – and have played some very interesting pieces. Today, there are about a dozen of us and we’ve transitioned into bells and bells with chimes. For those familiar with handbell/chime music, we play level 2+ and level 3 pieces. On the other hand, we’re not the Raleigh Ringers!
The Christmas season brings us beautiful music, and time has brought us the contemporary, moving sounds of Manheim Steamroller and the Trans Siberian Orchestra (TSO). In the spirit of Santa and as my holiday gift to you, sit back, enjoy, and marvel watching the Raleigh Ringers play a fast TSO song that you probably know (Wizards in Winter). Meanwhile, it’s time to take a few days off.
Merry Christmas to my Christian readers; and to others, happy holidays in the spirit of the greeting you prefer.