Singing is praying twice

JAMIE RIVERA in Mak Tumang’s creation

THE SINGER behind inspirational hits the “Jubilee Song,” “Only Selfless Love,” and “Heal Our Land” — among many other hits of the same vein, does it again with “We Give Our Yes,” the official mission song of “The 500 Years of Christianity in the Philippines” yearlong celebration.

The song was originally commissioned by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christianity in the country, and, according to a press release, “conveys the power of faith and hope during difficult times and reminds Filipinos to keep saying ‘yes’ to the mission of Jesus.” The anniversary corresponds to Ferdinand Magellan’s arrival in Cebu, where the first Catholic mass in the Philippines was held.

The song was performed live for the first time at the Manila Cathedral during the Archdiocese of Manila’s launch of the 500 Years of Christianity festivities on Feb. 6. The music video, directed by Frank Lloyd Mamaril, was also shot in the cathedral.

The song was written by the multi-awarded composer Fr. Carlo Magno Marcelo. “We continue this blessing because we have to be grateful for the gift of Christianity,” he said during a press conference on Feb. 17, the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday. Mr. Marcelo was also the composer behind “The Jubilee Song,” which transformed Ms. Rivera into a household name and made her voice familiar to churchgoers in the early 2000s.

He talked about his writing process: after receiving instructions and the materials from either bishops or heads of commissions, the priest, whose only formal training in music was in the seminary, does his homework using the texts provided. He then goes about his day. “I will wait. Maghihintay talaga ako (I really wait). It would come any time during the day.”


Ms. Rivera looked back on the 21 years that have passed since that first inspirational song (a release from Star Music calls her the “Inspirational Diva”). “Lahat ito (all of this), it’s divine providence. Hindi ko naman siya pinlano. Ito na yung mission ko (I didn’t plan it. This is my mission now.),” she said.

Bakit ba ako binigyan ng talent ni Lord? Bakit niya ba ako ginawan ng career? Bakit niya ako tinap ng year 2000? (Why did the Lord bless me with talent? Why did he give me a career? Why did he tap me in 2000?),” she said. “As we grow older, hindi natin alam ang plano ni Lord sa atin (we don’t know what plans the Lord has laid for us). God’s plan is bigger than ours.

“It’s a preparation for a bigger mission, which is saying ‘yes’ to Jesus for 21 years already, and proclaiming his gospel, his love, not only to Filipinos but to billions of Asians and people all over the world who have yet to come to know Jesus,” said the singer.

Ms. Rivera takes her career seriously — several times, she called it a mission; not even a path or a calling, or any word usually used to describe a person’s job. “I think this is really my mission — for me to be able to give people a prayer; at the same time they could sing with it.”

Quoting St. Augustine, she said, “Singing is praying twice.”

“We Give Our Yes” is now available on music streaming services worldwide. Watch the video here: — Joseph L. Garcia


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