2016-12-11 Notes from the Bench

“E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come” by Paul Manz

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate


Paul Manz (1919 – 2009) was a popular American composer who is remembered for his sacred music contributions, numerous neo-baroque chorale settings, and choral music. Throughout his professional life, Manz was active as a church musician, organ recitalist, composer, and teacher.

The Advent motet “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come,” sung by our choir today, is his best-known choral work. This piece is frequently sung by church choirs throughout this country and internationally known, most significantly having been performed during the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College, Cambridge.



And speaking of Lessons and Carols, please join us this evening, December 11, for our annual Advent Lessons and Carols Festival featuring a setting of the Great “O” Antiphons by contemporary American composer, John Muehleisen, sung but the All Saints’ Chamber Choir. This is a wonderful opportunity for our faith community to prepare for the celebration of Christmas by setting aside this time, away from the frenzy of activity surrounding the secular celebration of Christmas, to reflect on the Word of God and the messages of the prophets who spoke of the coming of our Savior.

Manz was the recipient of a Fulbright scholarship which enabled him to study with Flor Peeters in Belgium and Helmut Walcha in Germany; composers who certainly influenced Manz’s compositional style. As a recitalist, Manz performed throughout North America and abroad in churches and cathedrals, as well as prestigious concert venues such as the Lincoln Center in New York, and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. From 1957 until 1976, Manz served as a professor and chair of the Division of Fine Arts at Concordia College in St. Paul, Minnesota while serving the congregation of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. He was the National Councilor of the American Guild of Organists, and the director of the Paul Manz Institute of Church Music. He was in high demand throughout this country for liturgical music seminars as a recitalist, lecturer, and clinician.

Throughout his life, Manz was highly regarded by his peers and recognized for his contributions to sacred music. He received honorary doctoral degrees from Valparaiso University and St. Olaf College and many honorary awards. Manz was named one of the “Ten Most Influential Lutherans,” and was listed among the “101 Most Notable Organists of the 20th Century.” He was named Cantor Emeritus at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Luke, Chicago, Illinois and Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Professor Emeritus of Church Music at Christ Seminary Seminex at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. During the “Paul Manz Celebration: Honoring the Life of a Church Musician” held in Minneapolis, substantial gifts were made to the Paul and Ruth Manz Scholarship for Church Musicians.

Manz’s great legacy as a performer was his “hymn festivals.” Rather than playing traditional organ recitals, Manz would lead the congregation’s singing of various hymns with scripture readings interspersed; the various selections were based on a particular theme. He would introduce each hymn with a creative improvisation, lead the congregation with his own accompaniment arrangements, and often played an improvisation between sung stanzas. Many of his improvisations were notated and are among the chorale-based organs compositions available to us today.



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