Music Selections for

Here you will find listings of music that goes well with Zimbelstern.
Except for the Editorial from the American Organist Magazine,
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The zimbelstern can be thought of representing the presence of the Holy Spirit moving among the congregants.

I first used a cymbalstern on the chapel organ at Phillios University, Enid, Oklahoma. I used it at the beginning of the second section of two Pachelbel toccatas in C major following a major break in the polyphonic structure where I shifted to a lighter registration.
I recently heard another organist do exactly the same thing on the same piece, but he said it had been an accident. I was still amused.

Timothy Pursell, San Francisco, CA

I love to use the Zimbelstern with "In Dulci Jubilo" by Johann Michael Bach.

Peggy Lacey Craig,
Organist & Harpsichordist

Last year, I had not used the Zimbelstern but once during the year by Christ the King, and a choir member asked me why I'd not. I had no reason, but told her I'd "get busy" on her request. I used it with the Paul Manz variations on Veni Emmanuel where the refrain melody comes in on the last variation (Rejoice, Rejoice!). I used it on the Hymn "From Heaven Above" on the last stanza (Glory to God in highest heaven), and on the last "Alleluia" section of the choir's anthem, "Let all Mortal Flesh Keep Silence" arr. by Eugene Butler, when the angels are supposed to be singing, "alleluia, Lord most High". While I was at it, I played it on the "Creator, Christ, and Holy Ghost" portion of the Doxology. Last week, somebody asked me if I was going to play "the little bells" with the organ again this year. People LOVE it, and I am guilty of forgetting to use it! I've promised myself to use it at Easter!, and maybe Pentecost!! My congregation adores it.

Laura Schutze
mezzoductor1 at gmail dot com)
Director of Music Ministries
Clague Road United Church of Christ
North Olmsted, Ohio

I'll never forget the first time I heard a zimbelstern. It was in a large church in Birmingham, Alabama. The hymn was "When Morning Guilds the Skies." At the verse which begins: "Let all the world around, ring joyous with the sound..." the organist turned on the bells and for me it was spellbinding. He had made his own unit out of old telephone bells and a record player hooked to the console via relay.

The bell instruments available for the organ today are totally wonderful and I thank those who put thought into their design so they are truly musical.

Randy Terry
Director of Music & Organist
The Episcopal Church of St. Peter
Redwood City, California

I have frequently heard organists effectively use the Zimbelstern for the first part of the Agnus Dei by Willan.
Agnus Dei - #712 The Hymnal 1940 (Episcopal) or #S-114 in The Hymnal 1982
This is from the Missa De Sancta Maria Magdalena by Healy Willan

St. John's Episcopal Church
Detroit, Michigan 48201

There is a nice piece by Dale Wood "Tis a Gift to Be Simple" that has a nice Zimbelstern part.

Der Tag, der ist so freudenrich, J.S. Bach (Orgelbuchlein)
William Mathias: Jesus College Service, at the "Amen" of the Gloria Patri of the Magnificat (as heard in a broadcast from Portsmouth Cathedral)
Hymn: Fairest Lord Jesus: "and fair the twinkling, starry host" and other hymns about nature.
Gherardeschi: March, last few measures, as heard on Delos CD 3503
Festive Toccata for Organ (1998) Denis Bedard (Canada)

"Sun Rays Through Stained Glass" by Joseph Strimer (easy, lovely piece).   I used the Zimbelstern to begin the piece, allowing it to play for about 4-5 seconds, adding the opening manual notes on the violes and celestes.  I did not turn off the Zimbelstern until the last pulse of the piece, when I released my hands from the manuals.  The organ I have played this piece on is a 1972 II/30 Schantz with the Zimbelstern in the swell box (at a friend's church). 

"In Dulci Jubilo" setting by J. S. Bach:  I have used it all the way through. 

I have friends who use the Zimbelstern on the last verse of a "A Mighty Fortress" and "Lift High the Cross", and on the interlude preceding the last verse.

David Michael Kenney
Organist & Music Coordinator
First Presbyterian Church
Washington, North Carolina 
david at

Buxtehude: Choral Prelude "Nun lob mein Seel den Herren"
second verse

J.C.B. Bach: "In dulci jubilo" (Formerly atributed to J.S. Bach)

Susanna van Soldt Manuscript (dances from the 16th century)

French Baroque: Noels of Daquin, Balbastre, Corette etc.

Thomas Haubrich
Director of Music
St. Helen's Catholic Church
Trier Germany

One of the most effective uses of a zimbelstern I have encountered is on the recording of Flor Peeters "Missa Festiva" performed by George Guest and the Choir of St. John's College. It is used to cap the final measures of the Hosannah of the Benedictus (possibly the Sanctus itself, I have not listened to the LP (Argo ZRG.883) in some time and it has not been reissued on CD as yet.) But the effect just sparkles.

William F. Coscarelli, Head of Music Collections, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia
- and - Director of Music, St. Stephen's Anglican Church, Athens, Georgia

I use the Zimbelstern when playing a transcription of Handel's Pastorale Symphony (from the Messiah). I put it on at the return of the A section.
Jeff Dailey

Chorale Fantasia, "How Lovely Shines the Morning Star" by Dietrich Buxtehude
Chorale Prelude, "In Thee Is Gladness" by J.S. Bach

Hymns of Praise, i.e., "Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee (last verse)"
"Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" (last section, particularly at weddings)
"Silent Night" (On Christmas Eve candle light service - last verse)
bulowdsman at

Prelude in classic style (last passage) gordon young
trumpet tune & aire (H Purcell)
widor tocata Last passage
Amazing grace 2nd Passage arr(bish)
Joy (Bish)

Final page of Toccata in c minor from Suite Gothique


From the President of The American Guild of Organists

Despite the frenzied schedule we all experience in December, my favorite services of the year are those of Christmas Eve. In my church, our first service on this night is the "Christmas Eve Family Service" at 5 P.m. The church is packed. People are standing everywhere. They are crowded into the choir stalls. You can feel the excitement. You can live for days on the glow in the children's eyes. This service consists mainly of readings and carols, one of which is "Angels we have heard on high" with its beautiful refrain "Gloria in excelsis Deo." At the refrain I turn on the Zimbelstern. The happy response from the children seated in the choir is always the same: their heads spin round towards me, their jaws drop, and their eyes widen. Even more than the trumpets on the opening "O come, all ye faithful"; even more than the beautiful chrysoglott I use in "Silent night"; even more than the timpani in "Joy to the world"-their delight upon hearing the Zimbelstern is abundantly gratifying. I love it. Later, at the midnight service, the atmosphere is no less charged. The wondrous texts, the splendid music, and the solemnity of the Eucharist all combine to bring a sustaining energy and a deep, enduring sense of peace.

My prayer for you is that you discover renewed fervor in your continuing efforts to magnify the glory of God through the music in your worship and that the joy of Christmas inhabits your being.

Reprinted by permission. From the December 1998 issue of The American Organist magazine.

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