Virtual Blessings: Ravens Honor Their Alma Mater
To mark the end of the school year, the a capella group the Lemkeys performed the song “Lord of Ev’ry Blessing,” the official Alma Mater hymn of Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.
The Lemkeys are a pop a cappella ensemble founded in 2014 by Benedictine College’s former Director of Choral Activities, Sean Teets, who is currently in the seminary. The group takes its name from Father Henry Lemke, the founder of the college.
They said they sang the song for their fellow classmates, to encourage them during the coronavirus pandemic.
The alma mater hymn was written by three alumni of the college: Dr. Ruth Krusemark, class of 1973, Dominican Father Andrew Hoffer, 1994, and Stacy Niedbalski Cope, 2002. The Board of Directors voted unanimously to adopt the hymn as an alma mater for the college in 2002. It is often sung to close official campus events.
Ruth Krusemark, a longtime music professor at the college, was the driving force behind the hymn. A lifelong resident of Atchison, Kansas, she graduated from the college in 1994 and lives in the house her great-grandfather built in 1894. Her father graduated from the college in 1936. In 2013, Ruth was named the first Mother Evangelista Kremmeter Endowed Professor of Traditions and Values. She directed the Benedictine College Chamber Singers in several performances at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. She has several original compositions published by Oregon Catholic Press.
The lead lyricist for the piece, Father Andrew Hofer, grew up as the youngest of ten children on a Kansas farm. After Benedictine College, he continued his studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland and the University of Notre Dame. Today, he directs the Doctoral Program at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C, where he is professor of patristics and ancient languages. at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception, Dominican House of Studies, in Washington, D.C. He is the author of Christ in the Life and Teaching of Gregory of Nazianzus and is widely published in theological journals.
They were assisted by Stacy (Niedbalski) Cope who grew up one of eight children in Kearney, Neb., and works for Catholic schools in Omaha. She was a student at the time the alma mater was written, and one of the first to perform it as part of the college’s choir.
The hymn was used as the college’s Easter video during the coronavirus pandemic. Its lyrics are as follows:
O Lord of Ev’ry Blessing
The Benedictine College Alma Mater
O Lord of ev’ry blessing, we praise you for the place
That sits above the river and under heaven’s grace.
We call her ―Alma Mater‖ from hearts with love aflame
And proudly go rejoicing with Benedictine’s name.
O hear your ravens calling; in faith we fly to you.
For you alone are holy, and you alone are true.
Just as the river flowing, you always will provide.
So in all things forever may you be glorified.
Surround her with your goodness and keep her in your peace.
May Benedictine flourish, her family increase.
Like dappled trees in autumn or flowers fresh in spring,
Your glory casts its beauty where souls in wisdom sing.
This school of your own service has set us on our way
To follow you in knowledge unto the endless day.
Let fear not daunt our movement toward hope of promise bright
As now we run in courage with love’s untold delight.