Tributes have been paid to a church organist who was attacked on his way to perform at a Christmas Eve midnight mass.

Alan Greaves, 68, from Sheffield, suffered head injuries when he was assaulted just yards from St Saviour's Church, High Green, in South Yorkshire.

He was found on the pavement close to his home on Greengate Lane at approximately 11.15pm on December 24. He died on Thursday night surrounded by his family at the city's Northern General Hospital.

Rev Canon Simon Bessant from St Saviour's Church, who worked closely with Mr Greaves and his wife Maureen, a church community worker, said: "He was a good man and this was an evil act. He was a gentle soul. He wasn't foolish - he would have handled the situation as best as anyone would but we don't know what he encountered."

Mr Bessant, who was expecting Mr Greaves at the church, went on: "He never arrived, which we thought was strange. Sadly, he was attacked about 250 yards from the church. His family were all at home and the police contacted them at about midnight to say there has been an accident.

"I spent most of Christmas Day with him and the family. They have a strong faith but that doesn't mean you don't feel the difficulty. It was a hard vigil by his bedside, watching him struggle.

"His wife wants justice but she doesn't want vengeance. She is not embittered but obviously she wants this person to be caught.

"This isn't even a bad area. He was walking down the main road opposite the school and park. It isn't like a dark alleyway and there were people around on Christmas Eve."

Mr Greaves, a retired social worker, had been an organist and lay preacher with the church for nine years. He had four adult children and had recently become a grandfather to two twin boys adopted by his daughter in Mozambique.

Detective Superintendent Matt Fenwick, from South Yorkshire Police, said: "Mr Greaves appears to have suffered a brutal attack after leaving his home address to attend midnight mass. At this stage, the motive is unclear. I want to hear from anyone who witnessed the incident. If you know who did this, please come forward and offer your support to the family at this difficult time."