Listen to audio samples for Ding Dong! Merrily on High and In the Bleak Mid-Winter (links open new windows; samples require Windows Media Player to play).
Nothing evokes Christmas like bells – ringing from a church steeple, accompanying a sleigh ride, or adorning evergreens. In this best-selling album, reissued at mid-price just in time for the season, the Christmas spirit is joyfully expressed through beloved carols performed on six-and-a-half octave set of Malmark handbells. The Gloriae Dei Ringers include old favorites in new arrangements, as well as original handbell works.
The Bells of Christmas is a new edition of the bestselling holiday recording, Hear them Ring. Featured are beloved favorites such as Away in a Manger,March of the Kings and In the Bleak Midwinter arranged by some of today's best known handbell specialists and composers. Described as "dynamically explosive" by the American Record Guide, the Gloriae Dei Ringers perform a diverse and expanding repertoire of original handbell compositions as well as classical arrangements. The Gloriae Dei Ringers, a sparkling and sonorous performing ensemble of young musicians, have dazzled audiences around the world including the US, Russia, Siberia, Italy, Finland and Switzerland.
"These virtuosi of metal and mallet positively palpitate with imagination and their arrangements are the ne plus ultra of shimmering, quivering pulsating pulchritude. The arrangement by Frances Legge Callahan summoning up twangy sonorities and pedal notes, a delicious range of colors including plucking and martellato effects. There are eleven players in this plucky Massachusetts group directed by Richard K Pugsley... they use 79 Malmark handbells (of 6 1/2 octaves). Twas Christmas Eve receives a rather suggestive reading that ends in Renaissance dignity whilst the witty coloration of The Twelve Days of Christmas is full of pitch extremes and glittering sonorities, like stars exploding. Away in a Manger is saturated in impressionistic ostinato; if you think handbells are inflexible creatures listen to the dynamic variance cultivated by these patrician East Coast ringers. They wouldn't rouse a butterfly's eyelids with the spectral quiescence of their Malmarks. A Flight of Angels is rhythmically novel; the sound of mallet on bell is distinctive as elsewhere the piping of shepherds in Shepherds, Watching is conveyed through simplicity and delicacy. Altogether their ensemble is metaltight, the sonorities they conjure full of lithe and pleasurable novelty."
—Jonathan Woolf, Musicweb-international.com
"The Gloriae Dei Ringers perform with a set of 79 bells covering 6 1/2 octaves. They are based in Massachusetts, but have toured in both eastern and western Europe, including Russia. This disc consists of arrangements of familiar Christmas carols as well as some original compositions for hand-bell choir by composers such as Donald Allured, Dale Jergenson, and Judy Hunnicutt. The performances are virtuosic, considering the teamwork essential to coherent ensemble in this medium. The program displays the wide variety of sounds that can be obtained from the bells through such techniques as plucking, martellato playing, and striking with mallets."
—William Gatens, American Record Guide
"From the Red Kettle Santas to the midnight call from the steeple, bells are a part of Christmas. This recording of Gloriae Dei's 11 musicians with their six-and-a-half-octave handbells goes beyond the usual arrangements of carols to transcriptions weaving dissonances and descants, the very highest and lowest tones, even the use of mallets on the bells to produce an intriguing and beautiful concert. In Twas Christmas Eve,Paul McKlveen pairs Let All Mortal Flesh with God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen. A Flight of Angels is Dale Jergenson's composition specifically for the bells, as is Donald Allured's Bellfest."
—Patricia Nakamura, The Living Church