Friday, June 2, 2017

TMU's Felix Manz School of Music

I thought I would continue to highlight some of TMU's schools and some of the history of the people that they have been named after.

TMU's Felix Manz School of Music currently offers a BA in Music with a concentration in General Music, a BA in Music with a concentration in Worship and Church Music, and a BS in Music Education.

The life of Felix Manz, the illegitimate son of a Roman Catholic priest in Zürich, could have been unworthy of notice. Yet, as God would have it, it was full of firsts, amongst which was the penning of what is thought to be the first Anabaptist hymn: “With Pleasure I Will Sing.”
Not much is known of the early life of Felix Manz except that he had the privilege of an education with training in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin; he was known early on as an accomplished Hebraist. In 1522, he joined Zwingli’s circle of New Testament students, but by 1523 he was already starting to be dissatisfied with the nature and pace of the reforms happening in Zürich.

During this time, it was in Manz’s home on Neustadt Street, a stone’s throw away from the Grossmünster, that the nascent Brethren movement started meeting, and it was here that in 1525 the first Anabaptist baptism took place. In the early days of the movement, Manz and Blaurock mainly focused on converting farmers and artisans in the Zürich area, but eventually they expanded their efforts to the wide region between the Lake Zürich and the Lake Constance in the northeast corner of Switzerland. It was not long before Manz and the others were arrested and imprisoned, first in the castle at Grüningen and then in the Witch’s Tower in Zürich. Yet, after having escaped the latter, Manz returned to minister in the same corner of Switzerland in which he had been ministering. Eventually he was recaptured, almost exactly a year later, and while he was soon afterward released, he was arrested again, for the last time, two months later. On January 5th, 1527, only two years after the start of the Anabaptist movement, Manz was sentenced to death, and on that cold winter day, he was executed by drowning in the Limmat River, making him the first Anabaptist martyr. While he walked from Wellenberg prison to his place of execution, Manz proclaimed the gospel to the people whom he passed and praised God for the opportunity to die for the truth. In the background a solitary voice could be heard, the one of his mother urging him to remain true to Christ in this hour of testing. His final words on this earth were: “Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.”

Not much has been left by Manz in the way of writings, yet the little that we have conveys a picture of one focused on his Lord and on Scripture. In his Declaration and Defense, he paints the picture of a Christ follower as one: who loves God through Christ, is full of charity, is merciful, is devoid of hatred, and trusts the one “who knows my every distress, and is mighty to deliver.”

As Manz was penning his hymn, while imprisoned in Grüningen or possibly just before his death while in Wellenberg, he probably did not realize that he would be the first among many in a glorious tradition of Anabaptist hymn writers. Like many who would follow him, Manz wrote and sang praises to God the Father and Christ as Lord. His hymn, as would many others, also proclaimed radical obedience to Christ and God’s justice toward the unrepentant sinners and grace to the humble. To this day it is immortalized in the Ausbund and in the first three hymns of the Anabaptist Hymnal

In Felix Manz, therefore, we have the embodiment of what I think our school of music seeks to produce: Christ followers who proclaim their Savior in all humility, centered on Scripture, rejoicing in God Himself and in His grace, and willing to follow Him, wherever He will take them.

Atwood, Preston Lee. “The Martyrs’ Song: The Hymnody of the Early Swiss Brethren Anabaptists.” Artistic Theologian 2 (2013): 64–92.
Estep, William Roscoe. The Anabaptist Story: An Introduction to Sixteenth-Century Anabaptism, 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: W. B. Eerdmans, 1996.

“With Pleasure I Will Sing” (Mit Lust so will ich singen)
Ausbund, No. 6 (18 stanzas)
Adaptations appear in Nos. 1 (“With Pleasure I Will Sing”), 2 (“I Will Delight in
Singing”), and 3 (“All Praise to Jesus Christ Our Lord”) of the Anabaptist Hymnal

I will delight in singing,
In God o’er-joys my heart;
For grace He is me bringing,
That I from death depart
Which lasting ever, hath no end;
I praise Thee Christ from heaven,
Who dost my grief attend.
Him God to me sending,
Example and true light,
Who me, e’er my life’s ending,
Doth to His kingdom cite;
That I with Him have endless bliss,
And from my heart may love Him,
And all His righteousness.
Christ, then, would I be praising,
Who patience shows to all,
With friendship us embracing,
Moved by His grace withal;
His love to all men shows He, too,
In likeness to His Father,
Which no one false will do.
Christ no one is co-ercing
His glory-world to share;
They heaven are traversing
Who willingly prepare,
Through faith and baptism rightly wrought,
Repentance, with hearts holy;
For them is heaven bought.
Christ, in His blood thus shedding,
Which He did willingly,
And His great task not dreading,
This would He have us see,
Us with His holy power endows;
For who Christ’s love constraineth,
In holy likeness grows.
Where Christ’s love is abiding,
Is spared the enemy,
And Christ proclaims this tiding
To all who heirs would be;
That who shows mercy lovingly
And keeps His Lord’s clear teaching,
Is glad eternally.
All shall be judged by Jesus Christ,
Yet none does He accuse,
Who falsely hate the life of love,
The Word of God confuse;
Until the final judgment day,
When those who scorn He will repay,
Their hope of heav’n refuse.
All love abides in Jesus Christ.
He knows no scorn or hate.
His servants follow in His steps,
And daily demonstrate
His life of light, His life of love,
His wondrous joy, the witness of
A heart compassionate.
Those hate and envy harb’ring,
Cannot true Christians be;
And those who evil, inj’ring,
Fists strike enmity;
Before our Lord to kill and thieve,
Blood innocent they’re shedding
In base hypocrisy.
Thus shall men be apprizing
Those who with Christ are not,
Who Christian rules despising,
With Belial’s kind do plot,
Ev’n as did Cain in sin o’erthrow,
When God owned Abel’s offering;
And hence must suffer woe.
Herewith shall I be closing;
Observe, saints, one and all,
It is not indisposing
To notice Adam’s fall,
Who, too, received the tempter’s voice,
His God was disobedient,
And death became His choice.
So those who Christ withstanding,
Whom worldly lust ensnares,
Shall likewise find their ending;
No godly love is theirs.
So closet here this hymn, indeed;
With Christ I am remaining,
Who knows and meets my need. Amen.

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