In 1988, the University of Notre Dame Campus Ministry department first purchased a small set of Schulmerich bells. Thirty years later, the choir has expanded to cover more than five full octaves, plus three octaves of handchimes, providing music ministry to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the South Bend community, and parishes around the United States.
The ensemble consists of two choirs: the Tins and the Coppers. The Tins are a new choir, founded in Fall 2017. The group of ten ringers is primarily made up of beginner ringers who are expressing their faith and love for the Church in a new way. The Tins rehearse one night a week and regularly play at dorm masses. They are directed by Notre Dame Senior and Engineering major Matthew Fabian from Buffalo, who is a St. John Vianney Parishioner. Matthew is also current Co-President of the Coppers, a group he has played with for the past four years, serving in various leadership positions.
Directed for twenty years by Karen Schneider-Kirner, the Coppers consist of 14 experienced ringers who regularly play at the 11:45 Basilica Masses, for Sunday night Vespers, and for other special liturgical occasions on campus such as Junior Parents Weekend and Advent Lessons & Carols.
In Fall 2017, the senior Handbell Choir was invited to perform at the inauguration of the Beijing Global Gateway in China, at Peking and Sichuan Universities, and Cathedrals in Beijing and Chengdu. They have traveled extensively through the U.S. and Canada, and are looking forward to future international tours.
The group is bringing their liturgical music to Our Lady of Victory National Shrine and Basilica on Sunday, March 11, playing a 7 p.m. Laetare "Rejoice!" Concert. The ringers will be enhanced by a small group of Notre Dame undergraduate vocalists and instrumentalists. The group is excited to share their music and prayer with the OLV community. A freewill offering will be taken at the concert which will support area disabled children.