“I am convinced that music really is the universal language of beauty which can bring together all people of good will on earth.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

Music is a vital part of our liturgical tradition. Encouraging others to make music and providing beautiful meditation hymns is an essential part of our weekly prayer. At Immaculate Heart of Mary Church we believe that all instruments and all people, regardless of musical background, may blend together to glorify God in song.
(718) 871-1310, ext. 14
Steven Vaughan, the Director of Music Ministry, is one of the very few musicians who have been hired to perform as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He has sung with the National Chorale for 19 years, and recently made his debut as a pianist accompanying the Professional Performing Arts High School Choir. He began playing Mass in Rockford, Illinois when he was only 14 years old. After receiving a bachelor's degree of music from Loyola University New Orleans, (the only Jesuit College of Music in the United States) he earned a master's degree from Tulane University. In addition to Lincoln Center, he's performed in numerous concert halls and churches, including Carnegie Hall; Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris and St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. He was a soloist this past year for the Brooklyn Diaconate Choir’s performance of Handel’s Messiah, and the Brooklyn Philharmonia’s performance of Bach’s Magnificat. He currently serves on Brooklyn's Diocesan Music Commission, and the Piano Steering Committee of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. His most recent recording, Enchanted Saint-Saëns, may be purchased at CDBaby.com or heard on Spotify.

To Jesus Christ, Our Sovereign King

posted Dec 4, 2016, 11:36 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Dec 4, 2016, 11:37 AM ]

This hymn was written by Msgr. Martin B. Hellriegel, who was born in Germany but immigrated to the U.S. with his family. In 1940 he was assigned to Our Lady of the Holy Cross Church in St. Louis; serving a mostly German-American community. He wrote this in 1941 as a direct response to sentiments expressed by the Third Reich and to remind his parishioners who actually reigns eternally. In 1943 he built a new side altar to the Blessed Mother in the church which includes a panel listing the names of all parishioners who fought in World War II.

The solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe was established in 1925 by Pope Pius XI, as a reaction to the nationalism and Fascism lingering after World War I. He wanted to remind Christians that their allegiance was to their spiritual ruler in heaven as opposed to earthly supremacy. Pope Benedict XVI remarked in 2006 that Christ's kingship is not based on "human power" but on loving and serving others.

Emmet Cahill - Christmas in Ireland

posted Nov 13, 2016, 12:38 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Nov 13, 2016, 12:38 PM ]

On Thursday, December 15
th, award-winning Irish tenor Emmet Cahill will present a concert of seasonal favorites right here in Immaculate Heart of Mary Church! Recalling his many childhood Christmas memories from Ireland, his highlights include “Danny Boy”, “The Wexford Carol”, “I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen”, “O Holy Night” and much more.

Originally from Mullingar, County Westmeath, and considered one of Ireland's most exciting young tenors, Emmet is best known as a principal singer with the popular Irish music show Celtic Thunder. He has toured North America and Australia numerous times, singing to thousand of fans, and is set to release his official debut album next February. You can learn more about him and his Christmas tour at www.emmetcahill.com.

Join him as he presents an unforgettable evening of songs and stories that is sure to enrich us all in the festive spirit. And his performance concludes with the 12
th Annual Lighting of Trees & Angels! Anyone sponsoring a tree or angel receives a complimentary General seating ticket behind the center break in the back half of the church. Additional tickets may be purchased, or upgraded to Preferred seating in the front, or a VIP ticket in the first two pews, which includes a post-concert reception with Emmet and a complimentary CD! Tickets are available in the rectory or at BrownPaperTickets.com

Are we like Zacchaeus?

posted Nov 1, 2016, 3:27 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Nov 1, 2016, 3:28 PM ]

This summer, pilgrims in Poland heard Pope Francis’s encouraging words during the World Youth Day concluding Mass as he outlined three modern challenges of faith that Zacchaeus also encountered in today’s Gospel story: self-doubt, shame, and public opposition.

Zacchaeus didn’t believe he was worthy of receiving God’s mercy and love. Pope Francis explains “God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind.” Zacchaeus ignored his pride and risked his reputation by climbing a tree to encounter Jesus. “When it comes to Jesus, we cannot sit around waiting with arms folded; he offers us life. We can’t respond by thinking about it or ‘texting’ a few words.” Lastly, Pope Francis advocated when faced with opposition, we must not become discouraged. “Don’t stop at the surface of things. Instead, ‘download’ the best ‘link’ of all, that of a heart which sees and transmits goodness without growing weary.”

Are these the three obstacles preventing us from participating more in music ministry, or even hindering our singing at Mass? I constantly hear people tell me their voice isn’t “good enough” to sing out. Pope Francis explains that failing to recognize our worth “is like walking away when God wants to look at me" or hear me! Be like Zacchaeus! “He mastered his shame, because the attraction of Jesus was more powerful.” Take a risk and make the time to join our choir, or our bell choir — cuori BELLissimi!, or our Resurrection Choir! Don’t be afraid or put it off! God has unfailing hope in our potential and is always “cheering us on.”

Music from Good Shepherd

posted Oct 28, 2016, 10:38 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 28, 2016, 10:40 AM ]

Since 1996, Good Shepherd Catholic Church has opened its doors to hundreds of New York's most talented musicians, giving them the opportunity to perform before live and appreciative audiences. "Music from Good Shepherd" has now entered its 20th season of free Sunday evening recitals!

The series began on October 2
nd and continues today with the voice and guitar ensemble Duo Cantabile. Next week, 8 Strings & a Whistle features the unique combination of flute, viola and cello.

November brings a roster of diverse styles, including guitarist Daniel Lippel; the Tanguera Tango Ensemble; and 9 Horses, a chamber jazz supergroup. (Musically, a supergroup consists of members who are already successful as solo artists, such as The Three Tenors.) The month concludes with Jonathan Cohler on clarinet and Rasa Vitkauskaite at the piano.

December opens with soprano Emilia Cedriana Donato. The Chancel Choir and the Orchestra of Good Shepherd Church then culminate the series on December 11
th with their annual presentation of G. F. Handel’s oratorio Messiah.

All the recitals begin at 6:00
PM. You’re invited to become a part of this wonderful tradition of music-making in the community of Marine Park. While admission is free and open to the public, voluntary donations for the performers are encouraged. “This series has become a cultural treasure for the southern end of Brooklyn,” said Michael Fontana, the music director. “It’s an opportunity for people to hear some outstanding solo musicians and ensembles in a beautiful setting.”

A Gershwin Celebration

posted Oct 16, 2016, 12:28 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 16, 2016, 12:29 PM ]

Did you know I’m one of the very few musicians who have been hired to perform as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts? I feel truly blessed...

This Friday, October 21
st, I’ll be singing with the National Chorale in Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall as we present A Gershwin Celebration. The program will include a medley of Gershwin’s most memorable songs, including “Embraceable You” and “I Got Rhythm”; an arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue for chorus; and Porgy and Bess, A Concert of Songs. Gershwin composed this folk opera in 1934 for an all-black cast; a daring artistic choice at the time. Some of the opera’s songs, such as “Summertime”, have become his most popular, and have been frequently recorded.

I’ll also play the piano on the same program, accompanying the Professional Performing Arts School Choir as they sing several Gershwin songs such as “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Strike Up the Band”.

For more information, or to order tickets, call (212) 333-5333 or visit NationalChorale.org.

Thanking God (and others!)

posted Oct 12, 2016, 6:29 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 12, 2016, 6:36 AM ]

The liturgical music journal
GIA Quarterly writes: “It would be a safe judgment to make that none of this readership has suffered from leprosy and heard the welcoming words of the doctor or Jesus saying that you have been healed. In today’s gospel, ten lepers were healed. One said thank you—the outsider, a Samaritan.

Thankfulness can only happen when two are present, can only happen in relationship. Giving thanks binds two together in an experience of self-giving. Healer and healed become one. (Living Liturgy, 2016, 228)

So, when it’s necessary to make thanksgiving we could pick up the [Breaking Breads] and sing all the verses of ‘Now Thank We All Our God’ while we envision the Samaritan-leper beside us…”

And why not thank someone you know with a gift of music? Treat someone to a free concert! Let somebody else choose the music at home or in the car, and thank them for introducing you to it. When’s the last time you sang to your child? (Who cares if you can’t carry a tune, it’s the enthusiasm that counts!) There are plenty of songs that say it for you; Led Zeppelin, Alanis Morrisette, and Dido all have hits simply titled “Thank You.” Bon Jovi sings “Thank You for Loving Me” and Mariah Carey offers “Thank God I Found You.” Bob Hope will always be remembered for “Thanks for the Memories.” So thank someone you’ve been meaning to! And I don’t need to tell you how many ways you can give thanks to God with song…

Rosh Hashanah

posted Oct 11, 2016, 5:12 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 11, 2016, 5:13 AM ]

In Today’s Liturgy, editor Dr. Elaine Rendler-McQueeney writes: “Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year, begins tonight at sunset. Jesus celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), which begins at sunset on October 11. He prayed the psalms, went to synagogue, and respected the Law. Our liturgies have their roots in Jewish liturgical tradition.

Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, in her article, “Misuing Jesus” (The Christian Century), contends that ‘too many want to deny Jesus’ Jewishness, since he seems to oppose Jewish law (speaks to women, cares for the poor, teaches non-violence). However, he is from first-century Nazareth, not some mythical kingdom. He sees the world through the prophets and Jewish teachers. The parables and healings also come from a first-century world-view.’ These are important aspects of Christ’s Incarnation.

The 1965 Vatican II document on the Church and non-Christian religions, Nostra Aetate, reminds us: ‘The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles (
cf. Romans 11:17-24). Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles, making both one in Himself (cf. Ephesians, 2:14-16)’(4).”

Shanah tova!

cuori BELLissimi! New day! New time!

posted Oct 5, 2016, 7:14 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 5, 2016, 7:14 AM ]

Starting October 9, handbell ringers of all playing levels are invited to get together for a 45-minute rehearsal on Sunday mornings at 10:00
AM down in the Good Shepherd! Anyone between the ages of 8 and 108 is encouraged to join. At this summer’s Vacation Bible School we had a multi-generational experience, with elementary school-aged children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens all performing side by side! Wouldn’t that be great to do with hand chimes?

Becoming a “ringer” develops team work, self-esteem, and provides general music training. However, musical ability is NOT the most important characteristic; a willingness to learn and a commitment to attend regularly is.

But you won’t need to attend every Sunday. After the first Sunday, October 9 meeting, we’re going to divide into two teams; the Blue and the Gold. The Blue team will meet on the 1
st and 3rd Sundays of each month, learning to read simple music; count basic rhythm patterns, and play easier handbell parts. Then eventually, they can “graduate” to the Gold team, which meets on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month; rehearsing songs, hymns and carols. And if the month has a 5th Sunday in it, we’ll all gather together to ring together!

So if you know anyone who might be interested, send them down to the Good Shepherd Sunday morning, October 9, at 10:00 
AM. Better yet, stay and plan on ringing with them! Bring a friend, or a grandchild! This is something the whole family can do together!

Guitar Jam

posted Oct 1, 2016, 2:42 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 1, 2016, 2:45 PM ]

Starting next week, guitarists of all playing levels are invited to get together for an hour once a month to swap techniques, fingerings, styles, and to pick up some tips by playing with someone else as opposed to playing alone, etc. Anyone with a guitar is invited, whether they play well or just a beginner who wants to try and come learn something. It doesn't matter whether you want to play a liturgy or not.

This isn’t a rehearsal for Mass, it’s simply an opportunity to play with other guitarists. It doesn’t matter if you’re discovering something new, or sharing your knowledge with someone, everyone can learn a little, for as singer/songwriter Phil Collins says, “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” And whether you’re a beginner or just keeping your skills in shape, playing with a group is fun! And it’s free instruction!

Popular songs and warm-up and improvisation exercises are just as likely to be explored as well as songs for Mass. Maybe you want some tips on how to practice more effectively, or how to play awesome licks? Perhaps you have some questions about scales or modes, or arpeggios? Klaus Crow says on GuitarHabits.com, “The beauty of guitar master classes is that they always give you new insights and make you aware of the infinite possibilities on the guitar.” So our emphasis is simply to encourage more and better guitar playing in a self-run master class type setting, where players can help each other.

Even though I don’t play guitar, I will frequently be on hand in case you have any questions about music theory such as rhythms, chord progressions, etc.

The monthly jam will be 3:30 - 4:30
PM in the Marian Center on the last Saturday of the month. (Sometimes it may be moved up a week if the last Saturday falls on a holiday weekend, so check the calendar or this column before you come!)

God Bless America

posted Sep 25, 2016, 12:18 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Sep 25, 2016, 12:18 PM ]

Irving Berlin first wrote this song in 1918 while serving in the U.S. Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, NY; but decided that it did not fit in a revue called Yip Yip Yaphank, so he set it aside. But with the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1938, Irving Berlin, who was Jewish and had arrived in America from Russia at the age of five, felt it was time to revive it. Kate Smith introduced it on her radio show, and it became her signature song. Berlin penned an introduction that is now rarely heard, but which Smith always used:

"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea 
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free 
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, 
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer." 

Did you know Berlin gave the royalties of the song to “The God Bless America Fund” for redistribution to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in New York City?

During the 1960s, the song was used in the Civil Rights Movement as well as at labor rallies. And by the late 1960s through the early 1970s, it became a staple of nationwide sporting events, even becoming a “good luck charm” for the Philadelphia Flyers.

On the evening of the September 11 terrorist attacks fifteen years ago, during a live television broadcast featuring addresses by House and Senate leaders, members of the United States Congress broke out into a spontaneous verse of "God Bless America" on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Then ten nights later, on September 21
st, Celine Dion performed the song on the TV special America: A Tribute to Heroes. A month later, Sony Music Entertainment released a benefit album called God Bless America, which featured Dion singing the song. This album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and became the first charity album to reach the top since USA for Africa's “We Are the World” in 1985. At the same time, country music artist LeAnn Rimes rereleased her 1997 cover of the song.

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