Thompson, Martha Lynn

Martha Lynn Thompson was the Organist and Associate Director of Music at St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas from 1969 until her retirement in July 2002. Her husband, Felix, was the Director of Music and jointly they directed the handbell program. Under their leadership, the St. James Music Ministry grew from 2 to 20 choirs, including 13 bell choirs. Prior to coming to St. James, Martha Lynn taught junior high school choral music and, with her husband, developed a graded choral and handbell program at the Methodist Children's Home in Little Rock.

Martha Lynn is a 1962 graduate of Henderson State University where she received her Bachelor of Music Education degree with a major in organ and theory. In recognition of her outstanding career achievements, in 2011 she received the Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor the University bestows.

In 1989 she was elected AGEHR National Secretary and for two years served on its Board of Directors. In 2001 she was granted an Honorary Life Membership in the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers. "This status, deemed to be the highest honor which the AGEHR can bestow, is reserved for individuals of the highest caliber who have made outstanding contributions to the art of handbell ringing."

She has more than 300 published arrangements and transcriptions that range from music for the beginning bell choir to music for the most advanced choirs. With Frances Callahan she has written five series of music books for the beginning handbell choirs. There are thirteen collections in the Begin to Ring, Ready to Ring, Clapper Classics, Key Rings, and Classic Rings series. Alone she has authored other collections for beginning and intermediate bell choirs, Rhythm and Bells, three collections in the Time to Ring series, two collections of Christmas music entitled Hear the Bells at Christmas, and Hymns of Joy and Praise, Vol. II. Her most recent work is Tunes that Teach, a book of handbell and handchime music and teaching materials that is usable in both school and church, and its sequels, Multicultural Tunes that Teach and Tunes That Teach 2. She also has two published organ transcriptions, is the author of a handbook for directors and ringers entitled Bell, Book, and Ringer, and the author of a book for beginning directors and choirs entitled Handbell Helper.

In her retirement, as a volunteer, Martha Lynn continues to direct an adult handbell choir at St. James United Methodist Church and to be active as an arranger of handbell music. In her "spare time" she also does free-lance music engraving.

Handbell music by Martha Lynn Thompson

Organ music by Martha Lynn Thompson