Agnes Bornemann’s birthday gift, her late husband’s harpsichord, restored for chapel use
God initially blessed the dedication of the late Professor Robert Bornemann’s restored harpsichord (built in 1970) by sending snow to postpone the originally scheduled ceremony.
The new date set for the dedication, April 28, 2015, was also the birthday of his beloved widow, Agnes Bornemann, now a resident of Vermont. She was able to be at the ceremony in balmier late April weather for the dedication of her husband’s beloved and newly restored instrument.
Willard Martin of Bethlehem devotedly restored the harpsichord, work made possible by a Bornemann family gift of $3,000, plus $2,800 collected in chapel worship offering proceeds.
Professor Robert B. Robinson, who knew Bornemann well, gave a moving testimonial to his former colleague, read Psalm 147, and prayed a blessing on the harpsichord, a centerpiece for the evening’s Easter Vespers, an essential part of the 2015 Spring Convocation.
Robinson “sprung” the secret of Agnes’s birthday to the Vespers audience. “It is fitting because Agnes and the family brought this [harpsichord] gift to us, and we are so delighted to have you with us,” he said.
Robinson spoke of Bornemann as a “mensch,” explaining that mensches are “known for their kindness, but mostly for their humanity… Bob was a genuine, broad, wonderful human being,” Robinson said. “He was the most cosmopolitan man I ever met.” Robinson explained Bornemann was “into new art, new music, new everything. His teaching was wonderful. He filled this place with music, some of it already written, but much of it he wrote himself.” Robinson explained that the performance of a Bornemann composition at the installation of President David Lose “brought tears to my eyes.”
Mostly, though, Bornemann was devoted to his students, Robinson said, both as a teacher and as director of the chapel choir. “He loved to be with his students, loved to be in their presence. He was a wonderful, wonderful man.”
Robinson then turned to the seminary choir, and Dr. Michael Krentz, cantor and director of music ministries for LTSP, and said, “We give thanks to God and seek God’s blessing as we set apart this harpsichord.”
He read Psalm 147 and offered a prayer, including these words: “Send your blessing on this harpsichord, which we dedicate to your praise and glory. Enrich the lives of your people through it. Give us faith to hear your gracious purpose in it. Through your Holy Spirit enliven and proclaim your word [through this instrument] for building up your church to the glory of your name and for the good of all your people…”
Vespers included the compositions of Heinrich Schutz, J.S. Bach, Sam Batt Owens, and a Guatemalan traditional song, The Peace of the Earth, arranged by John Bell, with the vespers under the leadership of Krentz. Hymns included Abide With Me, text by Henry F. Lyte and music by William H. Monk, and My Soul Now Magnifies the Lord with text by Stephanie K. Frey.
Vespers leaders with Robinson were Mark David Johnson and Lindsey Beukelman.
A performing quintet featured the voices of Lisa Thomas, Merri Bender Brown, Lorraine Cotter, Micah Krey, and Alex Zuber. Anne Heisig performed on violin, Linnea Clark played flute, and Katherine Steinly was on cello. Inger Hanson and Rebecca Wicker served as sacristans.
Watch Prof. Robert Robinson’s remembrance of colleague Robert Bornemann:
View a slide show from Easter Vespers:
(click any image to go to the photo gallery)