August 17, 2012 | Myrna Anderson

Dale Grotenhuis, Class of 1953

Dale Grotenhuis '53 is credited with hundreds of compositions, among them Calvin's school song.

Dale Grotenhuis, a 1953 Calvin grad and longtime professor of music at Dordt College, first composed the music for the “Calvin College Alma Mater” as a march for the college’s band. When in 1951, in honor of Calvin’s Diamond Jubilee, the college offered a $100 prize for a school song, Grotenhuis adapted his march as a four-part hymn—with Celia Bruinooge supplying the words. The duo’s collaboration earned the prize.

“Hearing it played still makes me feel for a moment like I’m back in college,” Grotenhuis said in a 1995 Spark article about the history of the song.

Dale Grotenhuis earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Calvin and a master’s degree in music from Michigan State University. (He completed all of the coursework for a doctorate in music from Ohio State University.) For 35 years, Grotenhuis taught music at Dordt College in Sioux Center, Iowa, and he is credited with creating hundreds of compositions. He also served on the committee to develop the 1987 gray Psalter Hymnal.

Grotenhuis retired from his position as professor of music and director of choral music at Dordt in 1994. He died on August 17, 2012.

“Dale’s life was about giving God glory through music, and during his life he enriched many through his arrangements and compositions,” said Calvin alumni director Mike Van Denend. “To Calvin, he gave us the unique gift of a song that communicates the mission of the college in the context of lifelong service to Christ. The alma mater is a simple and beautiful song that contains a complex and inspiring spiritual message. I am grateful for this gift and for Dale’s cheerful and consistent witness.”

Dale Grotenhuis is survived by his wife, Eleanor ’53 and his sons, Bob, Phil and Tom. Another son, Jack, also a composer, died in 1983.

Relate links

Read the Spark, "Signing a Calvin Song.”

Listen to Calvin’s “Alma Mater.” (.mp3)

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