Beloved composer, organist and church musician Dr. Paul Manz passed away in St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday evening, October 28. He was 90 years old. He died surrounded by his family while they sang his famous motet, “E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come.”
Manz long served the church as recitalist, composer, teacher and leader in worship. He was Cantor Emeritus at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Luke, Chicago, Illinois; as well as Cantor Emeritus of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the director of the newly established Paul Manz Institute of Church Music, and was Professor Emeritus of Church Music at Christ Seminary Seminex at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
As a performer, Manz was most famous for his celebrated hymn festivals. Instead of playing traditional organ recitals, Manz would generally lead a “festival” of hymns from the organ, in which he introduced each hymn with one of his famously creative organ improvisations based on the hymn tune in question. The congregation would then sing the hymn with his accompaniment. Sometimes he would play an improvisation between each sung stanza, as with his well-known variations on the tune, ST. ANNE, sung to the Isaac Watts text “Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past” with which he would traditionally end each festival. Many volumes of these improvisations have been written out and published and are played by church organists throughout the world.