The Shepherd’s Carol

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We will be singing The Shepherd’s Carol and Christmas Bells using the handbells in sacrament meeting on Christmas Eve this year.  You can find details on how I use handbells in primary HERE (details include how I pick my handbell choir, how we rotate playing the handbells during singing time and how I use them in sacrament meeting).  Christmas Bells is an annual repeat so we’ll only be reviewing it the Sunday before Christmas Eve but you can find my lesson plan for it HERE.  You can also find all of my Christmas sing time lesson plan ideas HERE for more ideas.
To teach The Shepherd’s Carol, I’ll simply be using the flip chart found HERE.  The 1st go around, I’ll have the kids listen to the piano as I point to the pictures posted on the chalkboard.  The second time, I’ll sing it and the 3rd time I’ll ask them to sing it with me if they can.  That’s it.  The real learning will come when we sing it over and over again using the handbells.
I created a bell chart with the bells playing the base clef (or bottom hand of the piano accompaniment).  I’m probably going to have the primary perform without the piano for the first time ever (using the piano as necessary to practice)!  Fingers crossed it works!!  The bells will be the only musical instrument playing.
I’m planning on my bell choir playing handbell pages 1-3 six times:
  • 1st time – completely alone with no singing
  • 2nd time – the entire primary will sing the 1st verse
  • 3rd time – the entire primary will sing the 2nd verse
  • 4th time – half the primary will come in, the other half of the primary will start 5 measures later (the second line of the music singing in a round)
  • 5th time – half the primary will come in singing the 2nd verse, the other half of the primary will start 5 measures later on the 2nd verse singing in a round
  • 6th time – the later half of the primary will finish the 2nd verse and the bells will play alone the last 5 measures, ending with page 4 of the bell chart.
If you have a bigger primary, try the round with 4 groups and just repeat as many times as you need!  I’m going to try to have a primary teacher/presidency member lead each group while I lead the bell choir.
If I need to, I will have the piano bring the groups in by playing the top hand of the 1st line each time.  If you are unfamiliar how I make my charts, the little black lines in the lower right hand corner are my counting.  They each represent one count.  The time signature to this song is 6/8 so count to 3 (or 6 but 3 is easier I think) with each line representing one count.
Also, I don’t have octaves represented.  The kids will play all the “D” bells we own and all the “A” bells, etc.  It sounds really pretty to have all the octaves played at the same time while also simplifying it.  It also gives more kids a chance to play the bells.
This last page is simply to end the bell choir.  It’s not written in the accompaniment but it sounds better if you end with this last note, trust me ;).  Only play it once, after you have repeated as many times as you need. 
Clear as mud?  Leave comments with questions!  Also, if you see any mistakes PLEASE let me know!!  

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These printables are filed on my Resource Library page under Song Title > The Shepherd’s Carol.

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8 thoughts on “The Shepherd’s Carol”

  1. Avatar

    i am so so so grateful i find you and your blog it have help me so many times over the last few months. so i keep on seeing hand bell idea in different music leader blog that i decided to jump in the water… i am excited and super scared…. our bells are arriving Wednesday…would it be to much to ask you if the words could be added to the shepherd s carol obbligato bell chard? just like the one you did for Christmas bell?
    i think i get the picture (ah aha i get the picture) but it would help me so very much.

    thank you so much for your kindness is sharing you time and talents with us.

  2. Avatar

    never mind i realized there is no word for the obbligato in shepherd's carol… i do not see the part actually… so my question would rather be where does it fit? when do i start the bell choir? how do i know we are still together with the voice choir? i haven t got my bells quite yet and do not know mush about music … just learned what is an obbligato ……so i can not sing the bell melody in my head… i do know understand where is fits… it mite make more sense in a few day when i can play it out.

  3. Avatar

    Hi Edith,

    The bell chart I created is the bottom hand of the accomopaniment. Because this song can be sung in a round, there are multiple words that can be played. If you are unfamiliar with the bells, I probably wouldn't start with this arrangement. It's kind of techncal. I'd go for Christmas Bells to start as that is fairly simple.

    Good luck with your bells, I hope you love them!


  4. Avatar

    Thank you for all your hard work in you lesson and activity. I have loved all you post.
    I have you Loaf attachment you posted it is great.

    this year my goal is to make some Bell charts to the song we sing. that to your making bell chart post . I think I an do it.

    Marry christmas

  5. Avatar

    THANK YOU FOR MAKING A FLIPCHART WITH SUCH GREAT PICTURES! A lot of the ones I have seen have clipart mixed with the pictures of Jesus, and I love just the pictures. YOU'RE AMAZING!

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