The anthem commissioned for Hope College’s sesquicentennial celebration has been published by the college’s Van Raalte Press and is now available through the Hope-Geneva Bookstore.

“I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (Psalm 121)” was composed for Hope by highly respected choral conductor Robert Shafer through a commission on behalf of the occasion of Hope’s 150th by Thelma (Tommye) Leenhouts, a 1966 Hope graduate from Washington, D.C.  In the words of the composer, “a setting of Psalm 121 for full SATB choir and organ, this powerful, rhythmic and moving piece is immediately accessible to all audiences.  It is particularly suited for fine high school, college, community and church choirs.”

“I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (Psalm 121)” had its West Michigan premiere on Saturday, April 30, 2016, as the highlight of the college’s commemoration of Hope’s 150th.  The Hope College Chapel Choir, under the directed by Brad Richmond, with college organist Huw Lewis accompanying, performed in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts at Hope.  The piece had its Washington, D.C., premiere on June 5, 2016, by The City Choir of Washington, under the direction of Shafer, the group’s artistic director.

Even as the anthem helped commemorate the college’s anniversary, the publication commemorates the anthem by making the work available to others, according to Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis, who is editor-in-chief of the Van Raalte Press as well as director emeritus of the Van Raalte Institute and provost emeritus and professor of Classics emeritus at Hope.

“The Sesquicentennial Anthem is a rich part of Hope College’s choral history, matching the Centennial Hymn of 1966,” Nyenhuis said. “This superb rendition of Psalm 121 deserves to be much more than a historical artifact.  We have published the anthem so choirs everywhere will be able to use it to lift their voices in praise to God. The anthem thus will become a living and enduring anniversary treasure.”

Copies of “I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (Psalm 121)” are available for $2.50 and may be purchased online  and following the link “Build Your Library.”  They are also on-sale at the college’s Hope-Geneva Bookstore, which is located on the ground level of the DeWitt Center, 141 E. 12th St., and can be called at 800-946-4673 or 616-395-7833, or emailed at  Orders of 50 or more qualify for a 20-percent discount.  

Hope College

Hope College is a four-year, co-educational, Christian liberal arts college affiliated with the Reformed Church in America.  The mission of Hope College is to educate students for lives of leadership and service in a global society through academic and co-curricular programs of recognized excellence in the liberal arts and in the context of the historic Christian faith.  Founded in 1866 and located in Holland, Michigan, the college offers majors through more than 50 departments leading to a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.  Featured in “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges,” Hope has received national acclaim on multiple measures through the years and is nationally respected as a pioneer and leader in providing an outstanding education by engaging undergraduate students in inquiry-based learning through collaborative research with faculty mentors.  During the 2016-17 school year, Hope has enrolled more than 3,200 students from 40 states and 28 foreign countries.  

Robert Shafer

Robert Shafer studied with Nadia Boulanger and is recognized not only as one of America’s major choral conductors but also for his work as a composer.  His career as a choral conductor, composer, educator and church musician in the Washington, D.C., area spans nearly 50 years.  He has been artistic director of The City Choir of Washington since its launch in September 2007, and was previously music director of the Washington Chorus (formerly known as the Oratorio Society of Washington) for more than 35 years. Among other acclaim, he won the Best Choral Performance Grammy in 2000 for a live concert recording of Benjamin Britten’s “War Requiem.” 

In addition, he served as artist-in-residence and professor of music at Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, from 1983 until his retirement in 2016, when he was honored with the title professor emeritus. 

Thelma Leenhouts

Thelma Leenhouts is a 1966 graduate of Hope College.  She taught at several universities before moving to Washington, D.C., in 1981, where she served at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Education, retiring in 2011.  She is a past member of the college’s Alumni Association Board of Directors, and received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Hope in 2006.  Her commitment to commemorating the 150th through music followed her longtime passion for choral music, including her time as a member of the Hope College Chapel Choir while a student and as a member of the Washington Chorus and The City Choir of Washington, under the direction of Mr. Shafer, since 1988. 

The Van Raalte Institute

Established in 1994, the Van Raalte Institute specializes in scholarly research and writing on immigration and the contributions of the Dutch and their descendants in the United States.  The institute is also dedicated to the study of the history of all the people who have comprised the community of Holland throughout its history.  In 2007, then-director Dr. Jacob E. Nyenhuis established The Van Raalte Press as a vehicle to publish the publications developed by the Institute.  The Van Raalte Press is also the official publisher of papers presented at the biennial conferences of the Association for the Advancement of Dutch-American Studies.