Fr Ricky Manalo performing one of his songs. Photo: Pujianto CemerlangFr Ricky Manalo performing one of his songs. Photo: Pujianto Cemerlang
It was a concert out of the ordinary as contemplative prayer took centre stage.

Fr Ricky Manalo’s opening hymn, the haunting Be Still and Know I’m Here, was a crowd favourite.

Performing at the Spirit and Grace Jan 23 evening concert at the Church of St Mary of the Angels, he was joined by a choir of about 30, and the parish’s instrumentalists.

But it wasn’t just any concert performance which showcased the American Paulist priest’s compositions. Instead, contemplative prayer took centre stage.

Despite bantering with a crowd of 700, many of whom had queued in true Singaporean fashion for an hour to reserve seats, Fr Ricky looked relaxed even while nursing a bad back.

He sang with the audience and shared the stories behind his songs, giving a glimpse of his creative genius at work.

Influenced by his Filipino roots and interest in the Asian culture, Fr Ricky, through his compositions, makes Asian music accessible even to Western listeners.

His songs such as Many and Great, Ang Katawan ni Kristo (The Body of Christ) and By the Waking of our Hearts, consist of eastern melodies infused with western harmonies, resulting in achingly memorable hymns.

In the end, Fr Ricky left a lasting impact on his audience.

And his audience couldn’t agree more.

“This has been such a spirit-filled night,” said Ms Christine Shiw, who was visibly moved by Fr Ricky’s music.

“This concert helped me to pause in the business of life, be with God and sing praises to Him,” said Ms Bibiana Teh.

By Theresa Khoo

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