GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Music is the tie that binds a former Grandville Calvin Christian High School band director with the students he built up through song.

Every note and every melody the students played during practice Tuesday was as tender as his spirit that moved through it.

“There are some really crunchy chords,” said Sarah Horton, director of bands at Calvin Chrisitan. “There is some tension that doesn’t get resolved, and we’ve talked through that a little bit, how that is us not understanding why he had to be taken so early.”

Horton taught her students “Hymn Song” during class. It’s an original and never-performed piece a Lansing composer wrote.

“It is based on the old school hymn, ‘Nearer, still nearer,'” said Horton.

The song honors Jeffrey Looman,  Horton’s former band teacher at Calvin Christian. A driver hit and killed him on his bike 10 years ago this month.

“He loved his students, and he just viewed teaching music as a vehicle for that,” said Horton.

Horton knows how special Looman was. He was her dad.

“He gave the best hugs,” said Horton. “He was the best encourager.”

They will share the stage Wednesday night with Looman’s former band student, Elizabeth Van Ryn.

“He was so full of passion, “said Van Ryn.

Van Ryn is now an English and Psychology teacher at Calvin Christian. She is one of at least 30 alumni students who’ve also been preparing to perform “Hymn Song” during Calvin Christian’s Collage Concert. It will start at 8:00 at the Jenison Center for the Arts.  

Van Ryn will play the flute.

“I’ll actually be sitting next to the woman who I sat with for yea,  and so we were having so many fun memories and just picturing him,” said Van Ryn.

Like the old yearbook photos of her dad, Horton hopes “Hymn Song” will never fade.

“I would hope that he’s proud,” said Horton.

Until they meet again, Horton’s going to keep playing, making a joyful noise on this side of Heaven.

“There is still purpose here,” said Horton.

The Collage Concert will also feature the school’s choir, orchestra, jazz band and chamber orchestra.