Herbert Collum (1914-1982) was one of the leading German organists of the 20th century. He studied in Leipzig with Karl Straube and Günther Ramin (organ), with Kurt Thomas (choir conducting) and Johann Nepomuk David (composition). In 1935 he became organist at the Kreuzkirche in Dresden where a very productive cooperation with the Kreuzchor under Rudolf Mauersberger started. Collum stayed there until he died in 1982.
Collum's main focus as an organist were Bach and Reger. He was also an important teacher. As a composer he wrote not only church music, but also chamber and orchestra music.
Collum wrote his „Kleine Messe für Positiv“ (Little Mass for Positive Organ) in 1948. The first performance was on 21 November 1948 at the Kreuzkirche in Dresden, where the rubble from the war was only removed provisionally. Only a positive organ was available on the gallery. People had come over the rubble heaps of the destroyed city of Dresden to attend a commemoration service for all deaths of 13 February 1945, the day of the destruction of Dresden. But for Herbert Collum this was also commemoration of the death of his daughter Gabriele, who was born on 28 November 1947 and died just on the day of her birth. This explains why his “Kleine Messe” ends with the chorale “Ach Herr, lass Dein lieb Engelein”.
Herbert Collum never left this chorale out in performances of his Little Mass.