Christmas Bells

This Christmas Bells singing time idea uses handbells! It couldn’t be more appropriate given the song is all about bells ringing!  We also sing it in sacrament meeting almost every year using the handbells.
Our primary owns the Kidsplay and Merry Bells set. See where I purchased mine and find out how I use them HERE.
Camille's Primary Ideas: Using Handbells in Primary
I have the kids sing the melody with the piano the first time with no bells. Then the second time, my bell ringers do the obligato part with the piano (no singing). Then the last time, we do it all together – piano, singing on the melody, bells on the obligato. The Primary President is going to help me with leading the singing while I lead the bell choir.

What’s great about using the bells on the obligato portion of this song is you can use a regular 8-note bell set.  The melody has an F# but the obligato only uses the regular notes!  It’s a great fit if your set isn’t complete.

For my bell choir, I pick a class to be my bell ringers – the 2nd oldest class in primary is my favorite. I need the oldest kids’ voices and those 11-year old boys can be a little out of hand with the bells. The class just younger is perfect.
Here’s my bell chart I use:
Camille's Primary Ideas: Christmas Bells using handbells
You can access my printables at my Resource Library.  Instructions for accessing my Resource Library are found at the bottom of this post.

I print each page on a piece of card stock and put it in a plastic cover sheet. Then I tape the sheets over the back of my music stand. Page one tapes to the top of the stand and the top of page two gets taped to the bottom of page one. When it’s time for this song, I’ll raise my stand up higher (I usually sit on the front pew) and using a wooden dowel, point to the notes when they need to be played.

The little black lines on my chart in the lower right hand corners near each note give me my counting. It may make sense to no one but me but that’s just how I do it. One black line represents one count. So if there are 1 1/2 lines, that note gets 1 1/2 counts. If there are 2 lines, that note would get 2 counts, etc. I just have to make sure I come in at the right time!
For singing time this week we’ll just pass the bells around and let everyone get a turn while the non-ringers sing. Next week we are practicing in the chapel and that’s when I’ll work more directly with my little bell choir.
I also have a bell chart for this song that plays the melody.  Check that out HERE.
Camille's Primary Ideas: Christmas Bells Melody Handbell Chart Primary singing time ideas

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These printables are filed on my Resource Library page under Song Title > Christmas Bells.


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10 thoughts on “Christmas Bells”

  1. The software I use will no let me save it as a PDF – only a JPEG. What others have done is copied and pasted the JPEG picture into a Word document and enlarged it to fit the whole page.

    And no, I don't have the melody…I only do the bells with the obligato part.

    Sorry I'm not more help!

  2. I do bells as well (my kids love them), but use them for the melody. I also notate the bells just as I would regular notes, with open colored circles for 1/2 notes, filled in for 1/4 notes, and dotted for (of course) dotted notes. I explain the notation to the kids, and this way they begin to understand the timing that they see in Hymnbooks. So I'm using the bells but also teaching some music theory. So far, so good.

  3. I am confused. If you have the 13 bell set don't you still just have an octave of bells? Do you play the notes above high C in this song an octave below? In order to play the correct notes it seems to me that you would have to have the 20 bell set, am I missing something?

  4. With the 13 note set, I just have to ignore the octaves. When a note higher than C is in the music, I'll just play the lower note that we have. It still sounds fine and no one notices. Not ideal, but it works. I hope that answers your question.

  5. For this Christmas Bells, is the 8 note set fine or do we need the 13 note set? I just got called to be the chorister and the budget for the remainder of the year is already tight…the 8 note set is cheaper than the 13…thanks.

    1. The 8 note set will work great for the obbligato portion of this song (which is what my note chart above is for). If you are going to actually be playing the melody, you would need the 13 note set because of the F#.

  6. Is there somewhere in the church handbook that says what instruments are appropriate for sacrament meeting? I thought it would be fun to use bells, but our ward music person said "absolutely not." 😕

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