Renowned Filipino composer Ryan Cayabyab has received the highest medal the Papacy gives to the laity, the Papal Award Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice.
The award was given for Cayabyab’s contributions to the church through relevant musical compositions, including his numerous choral pieces, six congregational masses, two Latin masses, sacred songs, psalms, and musicals with religious themes, among them “The Magnificat,” “Ang Birhen ng Caysasay” and “Lorenzo.”
The conferment took place during a Pontifical Mass at the Chapel of Villa San Miguel on December 21, 2013. The mass was officiated by Archbishop Socrates Villegas, the Metropolitan Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan, who said in his homily that Cayabyab is being given the award “not [only because of]the number of sacred music he has created, but the love he gave in writing every piece.”
All the songs in the mass were by Cayabyab, performed by members of The Philippines Madrigal Singers, The Ateneo Chamber Singers, and former members of the San Miguel Master Choral conducted by Jonathan Velasco.
One of the musical highlights was the premiere of the song “Miserande Atque Eligendo,” co-written with Villegas and based on the motto of Pope Francis.
Cayabyab is extremely honored to receive the award, which he considers one of the most significant acknowledgments in his illustrious career.
The award came with a gold medal, a certificate, and a pin. The Cayabyabs intend to fly to the Vatican in Rome this year.
In a short speech, the maestro shared that he was a choir member at age six and would sing in Latin and English masses. Looking back, he believed this experience planted and fostered his love for sacred music.
“The beauty of the prayers lends to the music effortlessly,” said the composer who intends to write music with more “gravitas” in the coming years.
Among other awards that Cayabyab had won for his sacred works are Original Music Composition for Dance in the 2000 Onassis International Cultural Competition in Greece for album Misa 2000. The album also won as Best Religious Album in the 2004 Catholic Mass Media Awards.