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Mount Olive Lutheran Church
music and arts



On a dark and icy Sunday morning a few years ago, the wind picked up outside the church and the power went out during the offertory hymn. Although we had been plunged into darkness and our giant pipe organ had been silenced, there was no interruption to our singing, no verbal acknowledgement even that we had experienced a power failure. The liturgy continued seamlessly. Acolytes fetched candles from the sacristy. People sang and chanted from memory, then filed up the dimly lit center aisle to receive communion, tears streaming down their faces.

The point in recalling this moment is to help explain the vital nature of congregational song in the life of this place. Even in a church so dark that words could not be read, the songs emerged. Music comes from a very deep place within us. It’s a very big part of who we are.




Our musical heritage runs back to the Reformation when the Mass changed to vernacular and hymns were added. Johann Sebastian Bach, Michael Praetorius, Gotfried Walther, Dieterich Buxtehude, and Paul Gerhardt were prominent early Lutheran composers, and over the past four centuries, no Christian tradition has done more to advance the art of choral music. In North America, Lutheran colleges have contributed greatly to that momentum.

Today, the congregation’s voice remains Mount Olive’s principal instrument. Our music (most of it from Evangelical Lutheran Worship, 2006) comes in many styles—from Latin chant to the German chorale, from the Southern spiritual to African and Latin American melodies.

Charles Lazarus

Noted trumpeter Charles Lazarus played a jazz concert at Mount Olive






Mount Olive’s large pipe organ, designed by cantor emeritus Paul Manz and installed by the noted organ builder Herman Schlicker in 1966, is also important to our musical expression. Manz was a leader in improvisational organ playing as a way to lead congregational song. He also emphasized the historic practice of offering hymns as dramatic pieces—some verses sung by men or women, some in harmony, some a capella, some in canon and some interpreted on the organ or other instruments. Cantor David Cherwien continues that tradition.

Choirs are another key musical ingredient at Mount Olive. The Cantorei sings weekly, usually at the 10:45 a.m. liturgy. Under Cherwien, this choir leads and supports the congregation’s song—sometimes with an anthem, but as often by chanting the psalm or singing an offertory piece or the Sanctus, Agnus Dei, or other component of the service.

Vocalists and instrumentalists – many of them members – often enhance our liturgies. The National Lutheran Choir, which rehearses at Mount Olive, takes part occasionally. Our Children’s Choir adds another valuable dimension. We encourage children’s voices in our worship experience.





Each year, Mount Olive produces a Music and Fine Arts Series and a celebration of J. S. Bach’s music—Bach tage. The parish also maintains an active outreach to the extensive musical programs of the Lutheran colleges in our region.

CD recordings of several Mount Olive musical events are available for order. Inquire with Mount Olive about purchasing CD recordings.



Paul Manz   In Memoriam

Paul Manz is a giant among American composers for choir and organ. His most famous work, “E’en so, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come,” popularized by its performance at King’s College, Cambridge, sold over one million copies. Other famous works include a series of neo-Baroque choral preludes and partitas. His organ improvisations and hymn festivals form the heart of this man’s impressive legacy. Paul was Mount Olive’s first cantor, serving as the parish’s principal musician from 1946 to 1983. He and his wife, Ruth, rest in the Columbarium in Mount Olive’s north transept.
“This is a congregation that loves its musical life and celebrates it.”

-Bill Heisley,
former pastor of Mount Olive

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