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August 13, 2018

Ricky Manalo, CSP on being named the 2018 Pastoral Musician of the Year

Ricky Manalo, CSP on being named the 2018 Pastoral Musician of the Year


This past July, I was honored to receive NPM’s 2018 Pastoral Musician of the Year Award during the national gathering in Baltimore. It was a wonderful occasion, but I was completely surprised when I first learned of the news; particularly because I could name a dozen other musicians who, in my mind, were far more deserving of this amazing accolade. However, as the great comedian Jack Benny once said, “I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.”

In a way, Jack Benny captures some of my bewilderment as I prepared to accept this great distinction. In the end, my reaction prompted me to reflect on my journey as a musician and composer over the last two decades. As I noted the ups and downs, amount of work and “dark night of the soul” moments, I realized they were more than offset by an abundant supply of God’s grace that has formed me into the liturgical composer I am today. I am so grateful for this tremendous gift.

In the introductory notes for my collection, In the Sight of the Angels, I wrote that creating, publishing and producing Catholic worship music is a collaborative and humbling process that begins the moment the Holy Spirit stirs a composer with a tune, text or theological understanding. It continues throughout the editing, recording and marketing decisions of a publishing company, but is not complete until a song comes to life in the full, conscious and active participation of a worshiping assembly. In short, by the time a liturgical song is sung, its creation and claim to any fame cannot be credited to a single person, but is instead the fruit of many people, seen and unseen.

The same holds true for this award. It represents the work and support of so many, particularly my family at OCP. Each of my songs contains musical and textual suggestions that were never in my original manuscripts, but became a part of them through the gifts of those who contributed to the editorial, notation and production processes along the way.

As is often the case, just when composers think they have touched the divine through their original composition, they are quickly humbled by God inviting them to remain open to the Holy Spirit during the course of publication. And if they choose to cooperate with the Spirit, they eventually realize that their music is never really “their own,” but God’s sole possession, freely given to them, without precondition.

So, thank you for your share in this recognition as Pastoral Musician of the Year. Liturgical music exists only to celebrate who we are together and who we are in God. May God be praised, as we continue to lift our voices and our hearts to the glory of God forever. Thank you.

–Ricky Manalo, CSP

Find Ricky’s newest collection, Be Still and Know I'm Here with Mass of Christ the Inner Light here.