This organist is only ten years old and is playing Paul Manz’ “Toccata on Veni, redemptor gentium.”
This coming Sunday, I’ll be playing Paul Manz’ “Toccata on Veni, redemptor gentium” (Come now, Savior of the heathen) as the postlude. We were first introduced to the works of Paul Manz by Dale Fisk, an organist and choir director from Concordia College Portland, who spent a sabbatical year in Honolulu with his wife, Lynette, in 1976-1977. While here, Dale was a member of the LCH Compline Choir. He also gave a workshop for the local AGO chapter on the works of Paul Manz, which was the first time I had heard them. Since then, I have purchased quite a number of volumes of Manz’ organ works, and in addition to learning a great number of his chorale preludes, I have taught them to my students.
Paul Manz (1919-2009) held two important church positions in Lutheran circles, at St. Luke’s Chicago and Mount Olive Lutheran in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He also was a professor of church music at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He was a recipient of a Fulbright grant which allowed him to study with organist-composer Flor Peeters and blind organist Helmut Walcha. Two of his honors were being named “Ten Most Influential Lutherans” and “101 Most Notable Organists the 20th Century.” We did hear Paul Manz play the organ in person in Minneapolis when Carl and I attended a national conference of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM), although it was not on an instrument he usually played.
His most famous choral compositions is an Advent anthem, “E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come,” which has been sung by Kings College, Cambridge, England as well as the Lutheran Church of Honolulu choir! It has a high B-flat for the sopranos and can easily sound “screechy” if not sung carefully. Here is a performance by Augustana College, conducted by Dr. Jon Hurty, of this piece.
Minnesota Public Radio’s PipeDreams put together a memorial page for Paul Manz, which you can find by clicking here, and includes recordings and other remembrances. Our ALCM colleague, Scott Hyslop, wrote an extensive remembrance of Paul Manz and the greatest quote comes at the end, where he writes:
Thank you for the grace of singing with me across the years in good times and in bad, when our words have stuck in our throats and when our eyes have overflowed with joy. It has ever been a Song of Grace: ‘Love to the loveless shown that we might lovely be.’
I have just been the organist. Thank you for letting me play.
Wow! What a great epitaph!