“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 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 has sung recently with the Brooklyn Diaconate Choir, The Brooklyn Conservatory Chorale and the Brooklyn Philharmonia. He currently serves on Brooklyn's Diocesan Music Commission, and the Piano Steering Committee of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists and is on staff with the National Chorale as Artist-in-Residence, Educational ProgramsHis most recent recording, Enchanted Saint-Saëns, may be purchased at CDBaby.com or heard on Spotify.

Calling all talented students!

posted Mar 13, 2017, 8:32 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Mar 13, 2017, 8:33 AM ]

Next month, on Sunday, April 30
th at 2:00 PM, Immaculate Heart of Mary will present the Inaugural “Young Heartists” recital and exhibit!

Like #young@heart, which showcases high school and college students along with young adults beginning their professional careers; this event here in the “Heart” of Brooklyn demonstrates the talents of our even younger musicians and artists. Elementary and middle school students from our parish; our Faith Formation program; our Scout troops; St. Joseph the Worker Academy and Brooklyn Prospect Charter School who study music or art have the opportunity to share their aspiring pursuits with us!

Providing our young friends a place to exhibit their talents does more than just allow them to share their unique gifts with us; it increases their confidence both while performing and in everyday life, it offers the opportunity to make like-minded friends, it supplies a sense of achievement and boosts self-esteem, and it encourages goal-setting and a “reach for the stars” philosophy. So help encourage some rising stars, and someday you can say you helped discover them when their careers were just beginning!

If you know an extremely talented young musician or artist who is studying either music or art and might be interested in joining us, make sure they contact me! I have some very simple paperwork for to fill out!

Gracious God

posted Mar 8, 2017, 12:02 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Mar 8, 2017, 12:02 PM ]

Today’s Liturgy, composer Jesse Manibusan reflects “I wanted to write a song that might convey the mystery of the Incarnation, God made human; where God’s people, in every age, take their turn at being a living sign of God’s mercy, grace, and generosity in the world; not just a declaration of faith, but also a manifestation. My beloved mentor, the late great, Father Gregory David Comella, had always emphasized that God’s graciousness is God’s mercy, not merely an abstract theological notion, but a tangible, powerful, and transforming gift that had to be given away in our everyday living.

Verses one and two easily reflect the Lenten theme, [Lead us, Lord, into the desert; lead us through the wilderness...] but the subsequent verses convey loving God by loving our neighbor, that is, everyone. To be as gracious as our God is gracious. The first half of the chorus conveys God’s gift, ‘Redeeming Love, you give your life away.’ The second half reflects our response, ‘Receiving Love, we give our lives away!’

Another mentor of mine, Father Don Osuna, once reminded a group of liturgical musicians at an NPM Convention, a lifetime ago, “We venerate the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance during Adoration. At Communion during Mass, when we receive the Blessed Sacrament, are we, not living monstrances?’ I believe his point was don’t just pray and sing to, about, and for Jesus, but be Jesus in the world; in our words and deeds. Serve, sacrifice, welcome all who come our way, and in doing so, we reflect God’s gracious mercy and love.”


posted Mar 8, 2017, 11:57 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Mar 8, 2017, 11:57 AM ]

"Jambalaya (On the Bayou)" is a song written by Hank Williams and Moon Mullican, first released in July, 1952. It spawned numerous cover versions by Jo Stafford; Brenda Lee; George Jones; Fats Domino; Elvis Presley; Conway Twitty; Jerry Lee Lewis; The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; The Carpenters; The Meters; Harry Connick, Jr. and most recently, Garth Brooks. In it, the singer poles a pirogue (a small boat) down the bayou to attend a party with ma cher amio, (his girlfriend) Yvonne, where they have Cajun cuisine such as jambalaya, crawfish pie, filé gumbo, and drink liquor from fruit jars.

The dish jambalaya consists of meat and vegetables mixed with rice. Traditionally, the meat includes a smoked sausage such as andouille, along with pork, chicken, crawfish, or shrimp. Since the Louisiana territory was occupied by both the Spanish and the French, it has its origins in two dishes from their cuisines: paella (native to Valencia) and jambalaia (native to Provence). The presence or absence of tomatoes distinguishes Creole jambalaya (with tomatoes) from Cajun jambalaya, which contains no tomatoes and is more characteristic of rural Louisiana.

Jambalaya is differentiated from gumbo and étouffée by the way in which rice is included. In these latter dishes, white long grain rice is cooked separately and is served in a scoop over or under the main dish. But in jambalaya, the white rice is added to the stock and the flavor is absorbed by the grains as the rice cooks. It's considered by most Louisiana cooks to be a simple-to-prepare dish; gumbos, étouffées, and creoles are regarded more difficult to perfect.

Mardi Gras Dinner

posted Feb 25, 2017, 8:50 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Feb 25, 2017, 8:50 AM ]

Did you RSVP yet for the parish Mardi Gras Dinner? Hurry! Do it by tomorrow!

As we did last year, some members of our music ministry are rehearsing a few of the most popular songs you hear at Mardi Gras to perform live for you that night! “Iko Iko”, made famous by the Dixie Cups, tells of a parade collision between two “tribes” of Mardi Gras Indians, and mimics the language of the Native American tribes that helped runaway slaves escape. The Hawketts, a high school group that would later mutate into the Neville Brothers, recorded “Mardi Gras Mambo.” The first zydeco recording to become an international hit was “Don’t Mess with My Toot-Toot”, a Cajun term of endearment meaning sweetheart, as in mà chere tout-tout.

And as we prepare music, you need to prepare by either buying or baking a King Cake. Going to a Mardi Gras party without King Cake is like a birthday party without birthday cake!! King cake is an oval braided cinnamon pastry, iced in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold; representing justice, faith and power. A small, plastic baby is hidden inside before it’s frosted, and the person who finds the baby is “king” for the day, and must either provide the next king cake or host the next party. And whoever gets a baby on Mardi Gras day starts the tradition all over again next January 6!

Psalm 119

posted Feb 15, 2017, 6:52 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Feb 15, 2017, 7:06 AM ]

Blessed those whose way is blameless, who walk by the law of the LORD.
Blessed those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with all their heart.
They do no wrong; they walk in his ways.
You have given them the command to observe your precepts with care.
May my ways be firm in the observance of your statutes!
Then I will not be ashamed to ponder all your commandments.
I will praise you with sincere heart as I study your righteous judgments.
I will observe your statutes; do not leave me all alone.
How can the young keep his way without fault? Only by observing your words.
With all my heart I seek you; do not let me stray from your commandments.
In my heart I treasure your promise, that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O LORD; teach me your statutes.
With my lips I recite all the judgments you have spoken.
I find joy in the way of your testimonies more than in all riches.
I will ponder your precepts and consider your paths.
In your statutes I take delight; I will never forget your word.
Be kind to your servant that I may live, that I may keep your word.
Open my eyes to see clearly the wonders of your law.
I am a sojourner in the land; do not hide your commandments from me.
At all times my soul is stirred with longing for your judgments.
With a curse you rebuke the proud who stray from your commandments.
Free me from disgrace and contempt, for I keep your testimonies.
Though princes meet and talk against me, your servant meditates on your statutes.
Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.
My soul clings to the dust; give me life in accord with your word.
I disclosed my ways and you answered me; teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your precepts; I will ponder your wondrous deeds.
My soul is depressed; lift me up according to your word.
Lead me from the way of deceit; favor me with your law.
The way of loyalty I have chosen; I have kept your judgments.
I cling to your testimonies, LORD; do not let me come to shame.
I will run the way of your commandments, for you will broaden my heart.
LORD, teach me the way of your statutes; I shall keep them with care.
Give me understanding to keep your law, to observe it with all my heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for that is my delight.
Direct my heart toward your testimonies and away from gain.
Avert my eyes from what is worthless; by your way give me life.
For your servant, fulfill your promise made to those who fear you.
Turn away from me the taunts I dread, for your judgments are good.
See how I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life.
Let your mercy come to me, LORD, salvation in accord with your promise.
Let me answer my taunters with a word, for I trust in your word.
Do not take the word of truth from my mouth, for in your judgments is my hope.
I will keep your law always, for all time and forever.
I will walk freely in an open space because I cherish your precepts.
I will speak openly of your testimonies without fear even before kings.
I delight in your commandments,which I dearly love.
I lift up my hands to your commandments; I study your statutes, which I love.
Remember your word to your servant by which you give me hope.
This is my comfort in affliction, your promise that gives me life.
Though the arrogant utterly scorn me, I do not turn from your law.
When I recite your judgments of old I am comforted, LORD.
Rage seizes me because of the wicked; they forsake your law.
Your statutes become my songs wherever I make my home.
Even at night I remember your name in observance of your law, LORD.
This is my good fortune, for I have kept your precepts.
My portion is the LORD; I promise to observe your words.
I entreat you with all my heart: have mercy on me in accord with your promise.
I have examined my ways and turned my steps to your testimonies.
I am prompt, I do not hesitate in observing your commandments.
Though the snares of the wicked surround me, your law I do not forget.
At midnight I rise to praise you because of your righteous judgments.
I am the friend of all who fear you, of all who observe your precepts.
The earth, LORD, is filled with your mercy; teach me your statutes.
You have treated your servant well, according to your word, O LORD.
Teach me wisdom and knowledge, for in your commandments I trust.
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I hold to your promise.
You are good and do what is good; teach me your statutes.
The arrogant smear me with lies, but I keep your precepts with all my heart.
Their hearts are gross and fat; as for me, your law is my delight.
It was good for me to be afflicted, in order to learn your statutes.
The law of your mouth is more precious to me than heaps of silver and gold.
Your hands made me and fashioned me; give me understanding to learn your commandments.
Those who fear you rejoice to see me, because I hope in your word.
I know, LORD, that your judgments are righteous; though you afflict me, you are faithful.
May your mercy comfort me in accord with your promise to your servant.
Show me compassion that I may live, for your law is my delight.
Shame the proud for leading me astray with falsehood, that I may study your testimonies.
Let those who fear you turn to me, those who acknowledge your testimonies.
May I be wholehearted toward your statutes, that I may not be put to shame.
My soul longs for your salvation; I put my hope in your word.
My eyes long to see your promise. When will you comfort me?
I am like a wine-skin shriveled by smoke, but I have not forgotten your statutes.
How long can your servant survive? When will your judgment doom my foes?
The arrogant have dug pits for me; defying your law.
All your commandments are steadfast. Help me! I am pursued without cause.
They have almost put an end to me on earth, but I do not forsake your precepts.
In your mercy give me life, to observe the testimonies of your mouth.
Your word, LORD, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens.
Through all generations your truth endures; fixed to stand firm like the earth.
By your judgments they stand firm to this day, for all things are your servants.
Had your law not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget your precepts; through them you give me life.
I am yours; save me, for I cherish your precepts.
The wicked hope to destroy me, but I seek to understand your testimonies.
I have seen the limits of all perfection, but your commandment is without bounds.
How I love your law, Lord! I study it all day long.
Your commandment makes me wiser than my foes,as it is forever with me.
I have more insight than all my teachers,because I ponder your testimonies.
I have more understanding than my elders, because I keep your precepts.
I keep my steps from every evil path, that I may observe your word.
From your judgments I do not turn, for you have instructed me.
How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
Through your precepts I gain understanding; therefore I hate all false ways.
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
I make a solemn vow to observe your righteous judgments.
I am very much afflicted, LORD; give me life in accord with your word.
Accept my freely offered praise; LORD, teach me your judgments.
My life is always at risk, but I do not forget your law.
The wicked have set snares for me, but from your precepts I do not stray.
Your testimonies are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on fulfilling your statutes; they are my reward forever.
I hate every hypocrite; your law I love.
You are my refuge and shield; in your word I hope.
Depart from me, you wicked, that I may keep the commandments of my God.
Sustain me by your promise that I may live; do not disappoint me in my hope.
Strengthen me that I may be safe, ever to contemplate your statutes.
You reject all who stray from your statutes,for vain is their deceit.
Like dross you regard all the wicked on earth; therefore I love your testimonies.
My flesh shudders with dread of you; I fear your judgments.
I have fulfilled your righteous judgment; do not abandon me to my oppressors.
Guarantee your servant’s welfare; do not let the arrogant oppress me.
My eyes long to see your salvation and the promise of your righteousness.
Act with mercy toward your servant; teach me your statutes.
I am your servant; give me discernment that I may know your testimonies.
It is time for the LORD to act; they have disobeyed your law.
Truly I love your commandments more than gold, more than the finest gold.
Thus, I follow all your precepts; every wrong way I hate.
Wonderful are your testimonies; therefore I keep them.
The revelation of your words sheds light, gives understanding to the simple.
I sigh with open mouth, yearning for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious, according to your judgment for those who love your name.
Steady my feet in accord with your promise; do not let iniquity lead me.
Free me from human oppression, that I may observe your precepts.
Let your face shine upon your servant; teach me your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of tears because your law is not observed.
You are righteous, LORD, and just are your judgments.
You have given your testimonies in righteousness and in surpassing faithfulness.
I am consumed with rage, because my foes forget your words.
Your servant loves your promise; it has been proved by fire.
Though belittled and despised, I do not forget your precepts.
Your justice is forever right, your law true.
Though distress and anguish come upon me, your commandments are my delight.
Your testimonies are forever righteous; give me understanding that I may live.
I call with all my heart, O LORD; answer me that I may keep your statutes.
I call to you to save me that I may observe your testimonies.
I rise before dawn and cry out; I put my hope in your words.
My eyes greet the night watches as I meditate on your promise.
Hear my voice in your mercy, O LORD; by your judgment give me life.
Malicious persecutors draw near me; they are far from your law.
You are near, O LORD; reliable are all your commandments.
Long have I known from your testimonies that you have established them forever.
Look at my affliction and rescue me, for I have not forgotten your law.
Take up my cause and redeem me; for the sake of your promise give me life.
Salvation is far from sinners because they do not cherish your statutes.
Your compassion is great, O LORD; in accord with your judgments, give me life.
Though my persecutors and foes are many, I do not turn from your testimonies.
I view the faithless with loathing because they do not heed your promise.
See how I love your precepts, LORD; in your mercy give me life.
Your every word is enduring; all your righteous judgments are forever.
Princes persecute me without reason, but my heart reveres only your word.
I rejoice at your promise, as one who has found rich spoil.
Falsehood I hate and abhor; your law I love.
Seven times a day I praise you because your judgments are righteous.
Lovers of your law have much peace; for them there is no stumbling block.
I look for your salvation, LORD, and I fulfill your commandments.
I observe your testimonies; I love them very much.
I observe your precepts and testimonies; all my ways are before you.
Let my cry come before you, LORD; in keeping with your word, give me understanding.
Let my prayer come before you; rescue me according to your promise.
May my lips pour forth your praise, because you teach me your statutes.
May my tongue sing of your promise, for all your commandments are righteous.
Keep your hand ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
I long for your salvation, LORD; your law is my delight.
Let my soul live to praise you; may your judgments give me help.
I have wandered like a lost sheep; seek out your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
Psalm 119, with 176 verses, is by far the longest in the Psalter. It praises God for giving such splendid instructions for people to live by. It thanks God for the Torah, prays for protection from sinners enraged by others’ fidelity to the law, laments the cost of obedience, begs for wisdom to understand the precepts, and asks for the rewards of keeping them. The “law” here is different from legal law, it’s God’s word written in the hearts of people: and this psalm recognizes the benefits of God’s word guiding human life.

It’s an acrostic psalm, meaning its twenty-two stanzas (of eight verses each) are in the order of the Hebrew alphabet. Each of the eight verses within a stanza begins with the same letter; the first stanza starting with the Hebrew equivalent of the letter “A”; the second with “B” etc.

Irish conductor Charles Villiers Stanford published a motet in 1905 based on Psalm 119:1; "Beati quorum via". Psalm 119:18 inspired the American hymn writer Clara H. Scott to pen “Open My Eyes, That I May See” in 1895. English Renaissance composer William Byrd set Psalm 119:33–38 to music as “Teach Me, O Lord”. Psalm 119:89 is a popular Nigerian praise song and the basis of “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”. The contemporary Christian song “Thy Word” by Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant is based on Psalm 119:105. Psalm 119:134 is the inspiration for “We Gather Together”. In 1671, the German organist Heinrich Schütz, who is generally regarded as the most important German composer before Bach, set the entire psalm to music. And in 1894, Czech composer Antonín Dvořák set verses 114, 117, 119 and 120 to music in his song cycle Biblical Songs.

Fourth Annual #young@heart

posted Feb 8, 2017, 2:13 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Feb 8, 2017, 2:14 PM ]

This Friday, February 10
th Immaculate Heart of Mary church presents the Fourth Annual #young@heart at 7:30 PM. Five of our parishioners are performing: Phillip Milbouer will play the harp, Jesse Broome is playing flute, Connor Whelan is playing piano and Scott and Donna Tran are playing violins! John Battagliese and last year’s Nate Irvin are singing, and Nathalie Wang is playing the organ. And again we’re featuring young@art! Students from the Churchill School and Center will have works of visual art on display!

The evening provides high school or college students studying music and art as well as accomplished young adults beginning their professional careers something that can be difficult to come by in New York City: opportunities to display their talent as they choose.

In Pope Francis' book The Church of Mercy, he says “Let us think about the image of a symphony, which implies accord, harmony… This is a beautiful image illustrating that the Church is like a great orchestra in which there is great variety. And this is the beauty of the Church: everyone brings their own gifts which God has given, for the sake of enriching others.”

Allow the creativity of these talented young people to enrich you. But do more than just think about whether you’re able to attend. Use your own gift of communication, and participate in “the evangelical mission of the Church” by helping spread the word! Invite a neighbor, even if you can’t come. Tell at least one person who doesn’t attend Mass here. Spread the news and the joy of music and art...

The Beatitudes

posted Feb 5, 2017, 7:59 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Feb 5, 2017, 7:59 AM ]

Many hymns are based on the Beatitudes; “Blest are They”, “Lead Me, Lord”, “We Are the Light of the World”, “Whatsoever You Do”, and Dan Schutte’s newest song, “O How Blessed.”

Eugene Peterson is an American pastor and poet who wanted his students to share the nuance and intricacy of the Bible in English as much as he enjoyed studying it in Greek. So he paraphrased it into contemporary English. (Currently he and songwriter Bono are making a film about the psalms.) Here are the Beatitudes from Peterson’s The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition: The Bible in Contemporary Language:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. 
You’re blessed when you’re content with who you are—no more, no less. 
You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. 
You’re blessed when you care. 
You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. 
You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. 
You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. 

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

posted Jan 25, 2017, 8:52 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 25, 2017, 8:54 AM ]

A great revival in the mid-19
th century caused many missionaries from Wales to travel to northeast India to spread the Gospel. This region, called Assam, was comprised of hundreds of aggressive tribes of head-hunters, who believed this demonstrated a man’s strength and ability to provide for his family.

Naturally, the missionaries were not welcomed, in fact, dozens of them were martyred. Yet they joined with native Indian evangelists and finally succeeded in converting a man, his wife and two children. This enraged the village chief, who demanded they renounce their faith in public or face execution. But instead the convert declared, "I have decided to follow Jesus and there is no turning back." As his children were executed he continued, "Though no one joins me, still I will follow." His wife was killed, and still refusing to recant, he was executed while affirming, "The cross before me, the world behind me." Yet this display of faith is reported to have led to the conversion of the chief and the entire village.

The formation of these words into a hymn is attributed to the Indian missionary Sadhu Sundar Singh, who had converted to Christianity as a teenager. The accounts of the martyred family in Assam and conversion of the tribe were so widely circulated that most Indian believers were familiar with it. So Singh took the martyr’s last words, and set them to traditional Indian music in order to make one of the first uniquely Indian Christian hymns.

An American hymn editor, William Jensen Reynolds, wrote an arrangement which became a regular feature of Billy Graham's evangelistic meetings, spreading its popularity here in America.

Goin' Home: Music Made in America

posted Jan 21, 2017, 12:29 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 21, 2017, 12:40 PM ]

Next Sunday, January 22
nd, at 3:00 PM I’ll be singing with the Brooklyn Conservatory Chorale in Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church as we present a concert called Goin’ Home: Music Made in America.

This program features a variety of music, including Aaron Copland's "In the Beginning", based on the first and second chapters of Genesis concerned with the seven days of creation.

It opens with Alice Parker/Robert Shaw’s arrangements of the American spirituals “Hark, I Hear the Harps Eternal” and “Same Train”. Libby Larsen's The Settling Years is based on poetry by American pioneers: "Beneath These Alien Stars" is about the bonding of the human spirit to the land, while "A Hoopla" depicts a boisterousness barn dance. Kurt Weill’s “Kiddush” was commissioned in 1946 by New York’s Park Avenue Synagogue for their Sabbath eve service. Recited over a cup of wine, this prayer affirms the Divine sanctification of the day.

The afternoon also includes George Gershwin’s Three Preludes and Duke Ellington's sizzling “Hit Me with a Hot Note”. And of course, you'll hear the classic theme from the “Largo” of Dvorak's New World Symphony, adapted by one of his students into the spiritual-like song “Goin’ Home”. Tickets are available at bkcm.org/events and at the door.

The Star of Morning

posted Jan 8, 2017, 1:21 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 8, 2017, 1:22 PM ]

Did you know the Christmas season concludes tomorrow with the Baptism of the Lord? Hopefully, music has helped you spread the Christmas spirit joyfully.

In her hymn book The Listening Heart, Benedictine Sister Genevieve Glen writes about the Epiphany of the Lord that “Quite likely, we have no material gold, frankincense or myrrh. All we can offer in our worship is the gift of our lives. It is the only gift asked of us at journey’s end.” Here is the text of a hymn she wrote…

The Star of Morning

The star of morning pierces night
Where clouds and darkness hide the light
From those who seek the one whose birth
Illumines all the shrouded earth.

The wise who journey from afar
Entrust their lives to hope’s bright star
To lead them to the promised One
Whose rising will outshine the sun.

We bring you gifts of simple praise,
The incense of our nights and days,
The gold of honor, myrrh of tears,
The journey of our days and years.

All praise be yours, O God, whose light
Still guides us through the world’s long night
Toward break of everlasting day:
All praise be yours, O God, we pray!

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