Posts Tagged 'Dale Grotenhuis'

NEW Grotenhuis Music Collection Released!

Are you a Reformed church musician who struggles to find musical resources related to the blue Psalter Hymnal? For the 1912 Psalter, there are accompaniment tracks, choral arrangements, and even entire conferences produced by members of the Protestant Reformed Churches. And an entire section of the publishing house of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Crown and Covenant, is devoted to selling their own psalm-singing resources. But for us in the URCNA, besides the occasional MIDI track that reaches our computers through the internet grapevine, there isn’t much beyond the bare sheet music of the blue Psalter Hymnal.

Except for the work of the late Dale Grotenhuis.

Choir Settings by Dale Grotenhuis

Choir Settings by Dale Grotenhuis

Painfully aware on my own part of this great need for Psalter Hymnal resources, I discovered some of Grotenhuis’ choral settings fairly soon after beginning URC Psalmody. As I listened to his versatile and varied arrangements on Dordt College’s 6-CD set Be Thou Exalted, LORD, I fervently wished I could somehow get my hands on the sheet music. Since most of Grotenhuis’ music was never formally published, however, it seemed a fruitless task.

Just this week, however, a reader sent me a link to a new database in Dordt’s digital collections. After his death, Dale Grotenhuis’s family authorized Dordt to make his extensive collection of unpublished sheet music available on the internet . . . for free! Here’s what the database home page says:

The Grotenhuis Music Collection was deeded to Dordt College by the Grotenhuis Estate in 2013. The physical collection includes over 500 unpublished music scores composed or arranged by Dale over the course of his career and is housed in the Dordt College Archives. Choral and instrumental pieces make up the majority of the collection with the instrumental category being further subdivided into band, brass, and keyboard compositions and arrangements. Most of the scores are undated. The few dates specified range from 1973 to 2002. All scores were scanned in their original state to preserve the primary format of the works.

The Estate assigns a Creative Commons Attribution/Noncommercial/No Derivatives (CCC BY-NC-ND) license to all of the material in the Grotenhuis Music Collection. Individuals who wish to publish materials from the Grotenhuis Music Collection must secure permission from both the Estate and from Dordt College in its capacity as the owner of the physical property.

It would take days, if not weeks, to even scratch the surface of this exhaustive collection, but here’s a tiny cross-section of the wonderful resources it contains:

Whether you’re a pastor, an accompanist, or just a musically-minded member of a Reformed congregation, this collection of Grotenhuis’ works just might become your new standard resource for sheet music related to the blue Psalter Hymnal. I’m thinking especially of small churches which, in the absence of pianists or organists, often need congregational accompaniment from whatever instrumentalists happen to be on hand. With access to a library like this, finding a trumpet transposition or clarinet arrangement of a Psalter Hymnal tune becomes a manageable, maybe even easy, task. Reformed musicians owe the Grotenhuis family a huge thank-you for making such a valuable resource available to the church at large.

As more and more people become acquainted with Dale Grotenhuis’ collection, I’d love to see the development of a topical index or search function to make locating a particular piece or instrumental part more efficient. For now, though, this incredible library of music for Reformed churches is all there, ready to continue its service for God’s kingdom—just as its composer had always intended.

Visit the Grotenhuis Music Collection »


Dale Grotenhuis: Establish the Work of Our Hands

A man who was powerfully used by God in the musical service of the church has recently left this earth.  Early yesterday morning, at the age of 80, Dale Grotenhuis went to be with the Lord.

Even if you’re not all that familiar with the Dutch Reformed world, it’s not unlikely that you already know the name—in the spheres of church music, it’s certainly a renowned one.   Just this past April, in fact, we were discussing the availability of some of his choral arrangements here on URC Psalmody.  I spoke to him myself via phone no more than three months ago and ordered some of his organ music.

From 1959 to 1994, Dale Grotenhuis served in a multitude of musical capacities at Dordt College.  Prior to his career at the college, Grotenhuis was also the chief music arranger for the 2nd Army Band and conductor of its Male Chorus, as well as a high school music teacher.

Perhaps even more significant than these accomplishments, however, is Grotenhuis’s legacy as a composer and arranger.  His well-known adaptations of the tunes from the blue Psalter Hymnal are featured on the album set “Be Thou Exalted, Lord,” and have permeated the CRC and URCNA in the form of sheet music for piano, organ, and choir.  His works are still regular repertoire for Dordt students; he even composed the school’s alma mater.  His name appears more than fifty times in the 1987 CRC Psalter HymnalIn a Christian Renewal article dated January 31st, 2007, Glenda Mathes writes:

[Grotenhuis] has composed over 600 songs, of which more than 260 as well as five works for symphonic band have been published.…About 90% of his work is church music.  The remaining 10% is written as commissions for churches or schools, some as memorial pieces.  Retirement allows him the opportunity to help smaller schools, like Zion Christian School, a fledgling Christian school in Byron Center.1

Throughout his long career, Dale Grotenhuis devoted his utmost efforts to assisting the church in its worship.  Even after his retirement, he was still eager for ways, as he said in the article, “that I can be used in my old age while I still have my health.  I love to be used by God for the church and His kingdom.”

One of my personal favorites is his choral work “Lord, You Have Been Our Dwelling Place,” with themes from Psalms 89 and 90.  A video from Dordt College’s Celebration of the Music of Dale Grotenhuis in March 2011, embedded above, provides a stirring rendition of this piece.

As I reflected on Grotenhuis’s life and death, I was struck by the profound words of Psalm 90, some of which are sung in this arrangement.

The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

–Psalm 90:10-17 (ESV)

By God’s grace, Dale Grotenhuis’s life spanned eighty full years on this earth.  And while I am sure he would have agreed that “their span is but toil and trouble,” I also know that he used his days wisely in the service of his King.  The work of his hands has been lastingly established in countless ways.  To think that God could utilize one man so powerfully for His glory, in such a variety of capacities, should serve as an inspiration to all of us.

Reflecting on his long career in 2007, Dale Grotenhuis testified to Glenda Mathes:

I have had a full, rich life for which I am so grateful.  Certainly I have been undeserving.  But the fact that I have been able to be used by God has brought so much happiness.  I would like to be used to my very dying day to the furtherance of His kingdom.

“Establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”

–Michael R. Kearney

1 Glenda Mathes, “Dale Grotenhuis: Making Music to God’s Glory.”  Christian Renewal, January 31st, 2007.  <> (accessed August 18th, 2012).

Choir Settings by Dale Grotenhuis

Today’s post on church music resources is both a recommendation and a request for your input.  The resource in question is a set of paperback volumes of Psalter Hymnal arrangements by Dale Grotenhuis.  I’ll back up a little bit to explain.

Recently I spent a few hours making an inventory of all the papers, booklets, volumes, folders, drawers, boxes, shelves, cabinets, and rooms of choir music at my church (West Sayville Reformed Bible Church).  The sheer amount of sheet music, from the early 1900s to the present day, is staggering—and, if you’re trying to get organized, overwhelming.  But in the bottom of one of the boxes, I found an orange booklet from 1979 which read, “SATB Choir Settings from the Psalter Hymnal, Book 2, by Dale Grotenhuis.”  What a find!

I already own the recordings of these arrangements on a CD set, “Be Thou Exalted, LORD,” from Dordt College.  But since we’ve just started up a church choir again for the first time in decades, having the sheet music at hand was a tremendous plus.  These arrangements are perfect for Sunday services—easy enough to learn, reverent enough for worship, and familiar enough for the congregation to recognize and appreciate.

Choir Settings by Dale Grotenhuis

Choir Settings by Dale Grotenhuis

I was even more excited to find about twenty more copies of this orange booklet in the back of one of the cabinets.  After I mentioned this discovery to one of our organists, she offered me another volume of Psalter Hymnal choir settings (volume 1, with a blue cover).  Unfortunately, however, I haven’t found any more of these volumes at church, so I am currently trying to learn how I can obtain more.

From some of my research, it seems that there are more volumes in this set—possibly as many as four.  There is no indication that the booklets were officially published by the CRC, nor is there any contact information inside the cover for author or publisher.  A quick search on only turns up a copy of Book Three, which it helpfully adds is “currently unavailable.”  As far as I know, Dale Grotenhuis is now retired, but continues to be a member of a URC in Michigan.  Does anyone know if his arrangements are still available, and if so, how they can be obtained?  Your help in this effort would be very much appreciated!

If this is of any help, below are the tables of contents for Books 1 and 2:

Book 1

  • Lord, Our Lord, Thy Glorious Name
  • The God Who Sits Enthroned on High
  • Since with My God
  • The Heavens Declare Thy Glory
  • Jehovah Hear Thee in Thy Grief
  • All Ye That Fear Jehovah’s Name
  • Amid the Thronging Worshipers
  • The Lord’s My Shepherd
  • Lord, I Lift My Soul to Thee
  • Be Thou My Judge
  • O Lord, Regard Me When I Cry

Book 2

  • Lead On, O King Eternal
  • How Blest Is He Whose Trespass
  • Shepherd of Tender Youth
  • Thy Mercy and Thy Truth, O Lord
  • O Christ, Our Hope, Our Heart’s Desire
  • When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
  • I Waited for the Lord Most High
  • Joy to the World
  • As the Hart, About to Falter
  • O Lord, by Thee Delivered
  • A Mighty Fortress Is Our God

Even if you’re hearing about these arrangements for the first time, you might want to check your church’s music library or storage room.  If you have access to copies of these booklets, you’ll be amazed at the quality of these settings and their versatility as solos, offertories, choir pieces, and so on.  As I perused the contents, it struck me that these are some of the best arrangements for simple, wholehearted praise to God through music.  I’m so thankful for the work of musicians like Dale Grotenhuis.


Welcome to URC Psalmody

We hope you'll join us as we discuss music, worship, the psalms, the church, and much more here on URC Psalmody. You can learn about the purpose of this blog here. We look forward to to seeing you in the discussions!

With this feature, just enter your email address and you'll receive notifications of new posts on URC Psalmody by email!

Join 221 other followers