Handbell Choir

Lalla Saleeby rings a pair of bells two-in-hand evening during a practice session for the Florence First Presbyterian Church Chancel Handbell Choir. The group will be in concert Wednesday night in the church sanctuary with a selection of Christmas carols and handbell classics.

FLORENCE, S.C. — Hark how the bells, sweet silver bells, all seem to say it is Chancel Handbell Choir Concert time at Florence First Presbyterian Church.

The 13th annual concert will be today at 6:30 p.m. in the church sanctuary and feature 11 pieces, many of which will be familiar to attendees and will be played by “a beautiful group of people. A true family,” said Ann Rodgers Chandler, director.

Fourteen bell ringers in total will ring out, or in some cases, chime out some familiar, and not so familiar, tunes for the crowd.

Handbell Choir

Leslie Mikell rings a bass bell during a practice session in the Florence First Presbyterian Church Chancel Handbell Choir. The group will be in concert Wednesday night in the church sanctuary with a selection of Christmas carols and handbell classics.

“Some are arrangements of carols or hymns and some written specifically for hand bells. I try to incorporate as many carols as I can,” Chandler said.

And they will do so with quick snaps of the wrist or, in the case of the larger bells, whole body motions needed to both ring and balance the bell.

“Several bellers are ringing four in hand, they’ll have two in each hand, so they’re ringing a lot of bells.” Chandler said. “Sometimes the lower bells you have to ring with two hands because they’re so heavy.”

There are also chimes at the disposal of the ringers.

Handbell Choir

Mary Lynn van Witzenburg rings a pair of bells Monday evening during a practice session for the Florence First Presbyterian Church Chancel Handbell Choir. The group will be in concert Wednesday night in the church sanctuary with a selection of Christmas carols and handbell classics.

The collection of songs is designed to show off the choir’s different styles and sounds.

The concerts have come, two a year, since 2007, Chandler said, when then pastor Dr. Barry Jenkins suggested them.

And in keeping with the program’s Christmas tradition, the concert will end with the traditional Ukrainian carol, Carol of the Bells.

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Digital Editor Matt Robertson is a veteran journalist who has fulfilled just about every role that a newspaper has and now serves as a key member of the Morning News’ newsroom by maintaining SCNow.com and covering the occasional story and photo assignment.

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