Monday, November 2, 2009

Hymnody Review: Paul Manz

Hyslop, Scott M. Forewords by Martin E. Marty and John Ferguson. The Journey Was Chosen: The Life and Work of Paul Manz. Fenton, MO: Morning Star Music Publishers, 2007. 246 Pages. Paper. $24.00. 1-800-647-2117. (LHP)

Manz, Paul. E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come (50th Anniversary Edition). Fenton, MO: Morning Star Music Publishers, 1987. Originally Published by Concordia, St. Louis, 1954. 8 Pages. SATB Choral score. $1.60. 1-800-647-2117. (H)

Dr. Paul Manz passed away on October 28, 2009.

Just the night before, our choir at Immanuel had been practicing one of the best motets of the 20th Century, Manz' own "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come." The choir had been struggling with this moderately difficult piece for several weeks. As an encouragement to press on, I read to them the "official" story behind its composition in 1954 from the inside cover of the 50th Anniversary Edition.

I prefer the behind-the-scenes version found in the biography mentioned below. John, then three years old had a rare type of double pneumonia. His mother, Ruth, adapted Revelation 22 into a powerful verse and asked her husband to "do something with it." And so he did.

I first learned the TTBB arrangment at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. I love singing the masculine bass part and hearing the soaring "first line," either Tenor 1 or Soprano.

The challenge of the learning this piece is well worth the joy of singing it and the comfort of hearing how your part fits into the greater whole.

My only critique of the arrangment concerns the five flats in the key signature.

Appropriate for the end of the Church Year, Advent, or a Funeral, "E'en So" is available from Morningstar at an affordable $1.60 per copy.

Listen to this timeless anthem at It will take you less than 150 seconds and you will want to listen again and again.

There are few things in this life more powerful than sitting at the feet of a gifted teacher and mentor, especially if that person is a musician. I can identify with the lenses of awe and respect through which author Scott M. Hyslop sees Dr. Manz. It was my high school music teacher who talked me out of becoming a high school music teacher. I rather enjoy the companionship of two true Lutheran kantors on long roadtrips to conferences on Lutheran worship. This biography may not be as even-handed as future historians or musicians may desire.

That Dr. Manz was a gifted musician and composer is not in doubt. Even though some decades have passed, the wounds of Seminex and the 1970's still have not fully healed in the LCMS. I read with difficulty some critiques of my own Synod, some justified, others...not so much. I am confident that there is more than one side to that story. I have found there are countless sides.

Perhaps Paul Manz could have found other ways to share his musical gifts with greater Christendom, ways in concert with his pastors, congregations, and Synod. Others musicians can learn from his life story. I am certain that his music will long outlive the LCMS civil war to the joy and edification of Christians around the world for centuries to come.

I heartily recommend PART TWO and PART THREE. The background on Dr. Manz' choral and organ compositions was enlightening, because of the seeming ease with which Manz composed complex pieces and the simple elegance that emanates in their performance. One will find more in the journey through the music that what one sees (or hears) at first. Have you heard a "Paul Manz Kick?" (125). His impact on Lutheran and Christian music was significant.

The Appendices read much like a MorningStar Music catalog. That is not intended as a critique. Manz' work (previously published by CPH) was caught up in the politics of the theological controversy decades ago. That is unfortunate. It has now been assigned to Birnamwood Publications, a division of MorningStar. As a musician, I am pleased they are back in print.

A brief biography of Dr. Manz is posted at

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.