“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.

I Can Only Imagine

posted by Steven Vaughan   [ updated ]

The new Christian drama film I Can Only Imagine opens this weekend at a theater near you! It’s based on the story behind MercyMe's double platinum song of the same name, which has become the most-played contemporary Christian song of all time. It stars Dennis Quaid and Cloris Leachman, as well as J. Michael Finley as Bart Millard, the lead singer who wrote the song about his relationship with his father.

According to the movie’s director, it tells a "complex father-son story." Bart’s father died in 1991, when Bart was only 18. He began writing the words "I can only imagine" on items while he was thinking about his father, and alone on a bus one night, finally wrote the lyrics to the song by drawing on his thoughts about what he might experience standing before God in Heaven.

The band, which recorded the song as a “filler” on one of their albums, never expected it to gain mainstream success due to its explicit references to Jesus and Heaven. But it cracked into secular charts, including the Billboard Hot 100, spending 16 non-consecutive weeks there! In April 2010, it was certified platinum, signifying sales of over 1,000,000 digital downloads, becoming the first single by any artist in the Christian music genre to do that. As of this month, it has sold 2.5 million copies, making it the best-selling Christian single of all time.

It’s been covered by several artists including Amy Grant; Jeff Carson; Kathryn Scott; Wynonna Judd; Emerson Drive and Marie Osmond. And now the movie is sure to introduce this song to even more people...

Thy Will Be Done

posted Mar 14, 2018, 7:04 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Mar 14, 2018, 7:05 AM ]

Next Friday, March 16
th, I’m singing in the New York Premiere of an Easter oratorio, Thy Will Be Done, in David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. This new 90-minute work for soloists, choir and orchestra tells the story of the life, ministry, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Composed by Angela Rice, she says "I've tried to use the music to depict the emotions of the characters in the specific biblical contexts. I hope that as you listen you can hear the love, surrender, obedience, despair, humility and awe—emotions that the characters experienced."

Since its world premiere during the 2012 Lenten season, it’s been hailed as "sterling" and "an ideal hit in the church choir world." One critic has described it as “a straight-forward, scripture-based work that tells the story of Jesus Christ bookended with the promise of Psalm 23 and the instruction of the beatitudes.” Metropolitan Opera tenor Gregory Turay, who premiered in the role of Jesus then and will reprise his role Friday evening, raves about Rice’s “very singable, beautiful music.”

Built in 1962, Philharmonic Hall—renamed Avery Fisher Hall in 1973 and later renamed David Geffen Hall hosts notable performances by acclaimed orchestras and artists from around the globe, as well as charity galas such as our Diocese’ “Futures in Education” Spirit of Christmas concert. Its spacious lobby and promenade feature such eminent artwork as Rodin's bust of Gustav Mahler in addition to wraparound views of Lincoln Center.

Curtain is at 8:00
PM. Tickets are $30-$100, available at NationalChorale.com or by calling (212) 333-5333.

Stations of the Cross with Taizé Chants

posted Mar 4, 2018, 12:09 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Mar 4, 2018, 12:09 PM ]

Singing is one of the most essential elements of worship. Short songs, repeated over and over, give it a meditative character. As basic statements of belief are sung many times, the reality of faith gradually penetrates the whole being. Taizé Prayer thus becomes a way of listening to God.

Gathered in the presence of Christ next Friday evening, we’ll sing uncomplicated repetitive songs as we contemplate the Stations of the Cross, allowing the mystery of God to become tangible through the beauty of simplicity.

Nothing can replace the beauty of human voices united in song. It gives us a glimpse of "heaven’s joy on earth," as Eastern Christians put it. But an inner life begins to blossom within us that allows us to keep on praying even when we are unaware of it. The songs continue in the silence of our hearts when we are at work or resting at home. In this way prayer and daily life are united.

Join us for this special style of powerful prayer this Friday, March 9th at 7:00
PM as our Music Ministry leads and coordinates the Stations of the Cross with haunting Taizé chants. Experience the simplicity and peacefulness of it.

Taizé is named for a small town in France. In 1940, Brother Roger created a safe haven for World War II refugees which grew into an interfaith community of over thirty nationalities. Today it is made up of over a hundred resident brothers, both Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds/traditions, wanting to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians. It has provided the world with wonderful prayer and song, including the chants we’ll use in Friday’s Stations of the Cross.

Curtis Stephan comes back to Immaculate Heart of Mary

posted Feb 21, 2018, 1:20 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Feb 21, 2018, 1:21 PM ]

On Monday, February 26
th, Brooklyn Deanery #4 will present its project for the Year of Vocations here at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Curtis Stephan: Hearing God’s Call. It’s an evening of song and testimony! Curtis performed here once before in 2013, with Dan Schutte and Steve Angrisanno in Age to Age: Generations of Faith.

A lifelong musician, Curtis received his bachelor’s in music and his master’s in jazz studies from the University of North Texas. He lives in Frisco with his wife and children. He is director of music and liturgy for St. Ann Catholic Church in Coppell, a mega-parish with more than 30,000 attendees, as well as a composer, concert and recording artist and workshop clinician.

Since committing his life to serving the Gospel through music, he's published five solo collections, including Through the Storm. His Love Remains: Songs of Consolation, explores grief and finding Christ's peace. Amid Passing Things features his Mass of Renewal, one of the most popular Mass settings in US parishes since the promulgation of the new Roman Missal in 2011, and one we sing here. He recently collaborated with fellow composers on Our Common Home, inspired by Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ encyclical, touching on themes of care for creation, poverty and solidarity.

He travels the world, witnessing to all ages with the same goal: helping people connect with God and making disciples for Christ. Curtis starts at 7:30
PM, but opening for him at 7:00 PM is the Guerin Catholic HS Music Department from Noblesville, IN! So come early and enjoy, reflect and pray!

Ministry Scheduler Pro is live!

posted Feb 11, 2018, 1:28 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Feb 11, 2018, 1:29 PM ]

As of this weekend, we have put into place a new system that makes scheduling much easier for everyone! Using Ministry Scheduler Pro either online or via your mobile app, you can now specify in advance exactly what times do and do not work well for you to serve. And you can check your schedule from anywhere and easily find a substitute when you can't make one of your scheduled dates.

If you are unable to make a date you’re scheduled for, please request a substitute by clicking the "Request sub" link. Don’t reply in the comments without doing this. When you submit a comment, the parish staff gets an email in “read only” format and are unable to reply to them. Also, YOU need to update your preferences and request subs, we can’t do that for you.

In your profile, you can list the Mass times you prefer to serve at, and even indicate that you ONLY be scheduled at these times. So if you never want to serve at 11:45 Mass, put in 5:00 & 8:45 and check the “Schedule me only at the services in this list” box.

Additionally, if there are dates and or Mass times you can’t serve at, enter those under “Unavailable dates / times”. The comments field is really an explanation field, like if you put in your unavailable for the next three months because “I’m away at school” or “I broke my leg”.

For more information and help on how to use Ministry Scheduler Pro, log into MinistrySchedulerPro.com, click on “Help Center” and under “Resources” you’ll find video tutorials, a use manual and searchable FAQ’s!

And Happy Mardi Gras! Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Psalm 147

posted Feb 4, 2018, 11:03 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Feb 4, 2018, 11:14 AM ]


How good to sing praise to our God; how pleasant to give fitting praise.
The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem, and gathers the dispersed of Israel, Healing the brokenhearted, and binding up their wounds.
He numbers the stars, and gives to all of them their names.
Great is our Lord, vast in power, with wisdom beyond measure.
The LORD gives aid to the poor, but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; with the lyre make music to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, provides rain for the earth, makes grass sprout on the mountains,
Who gives animals their food and young ravens what they cry for.
He takes no delight in the strength of horses, no pleasure in the runner’s stride.
Rather the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his mercy.

Glorify the LORD, Jerusalem; Zion, offer praise to your God, For he has strengthened the bars of your gates, blessed your children within you.
He brings peace to your borders, and satisfies you with finest wheat.
He sends his command to earth; his word runs swiftly!
Thus he makes the snow like wool, and spreads the frost like ash; He disperses hail like crumbs. Who can withstand his cold?
Yet when again he issues his command, it melts them; he raises his winds and the waters flow.
He proclaims his word to Jacob, his statutes and laws to Israel.
He has not done this for any other nation; of such laws they know nothing.
This psalm conforms to the standard pattern of the hymn of praise, divided into three stanzas or sections each opening with a “call to praise” and then continuing by recounting "reasons for praise." The first section praises the powerful creator who restores exiled Judah; the second section praises the creator who provides food to animals and human beings; while the third urges the holy city to recognize it has been re-created and made the place of disclosure for God’s word. The audience is called to open our mouths, lift up our voices, and join in the psalmist's joyous song.

In Psalms 146-150, the word "praise" is found 40 times, and many know this group as the "praise collection." Each of these last five psalms starts and ends with "Praise the Lord!" (Hebrew, halelu; Greek, alleluia). Together, these psalms put a final exclamation point on the book of Psalms.

The author is unknown. Most scholars believe it was penned after the return of the Jews from their Babylonian captivity (beginning 535 B.C.); though a few think it's so similar in style to the psalms of David, it may have been written by him, though they admit probably not.

It’s the inspiration for many hymns, including “All Creatures of Our God and King”; “God of Our Fathers” and “Let All Things Now Living”.

The liturgical music journal GIA Quarterly advises liturgical ministers that “this responsorial psalm reminds us that the brokenhearted are especially precious to God, who binds up our wounds, numbers every star, and calls each one by name. If the day comes that heartache fills you and takes away your joy in ministry, today’s psalm can be a healing balm. It is a reminder that God watches over every thought and heeds our every tear.”

Emmet Cahill is back!

posted Jan 28, 2018, 12:29 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 28, 2018, 12:30 PM ]

Emmet Cahill is best known as a principal singer with the popular Irish music show
Celtic Thunder, but you may remember him as the extraordinary singer who performed for our 12th Annual Lighting of Trees & Angels in 2016.

He remembers how gracious our parish is, and had such a good time singing here that he’s coming back to cantor for us next Sunday!

Church music was a major influence in his musical upbringing. “It was in the cathedral in my little hometown of Mullingar that I first learned how to sing and perform in public,” he says. Growing up in a musical household, pursuing a career in music was a natural path for Cahill to take. At four years old, his father, an accomplished musician, began teaching Emmet his first music lessons, leading to a 5-year Schola Cantorum music scholarship at his local secondary school where he studied voice, organ, piano and violin. He then went on to receive his formal classical training in opera at the prestigious Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. He still cantors at his home church, Cathedral of Christ the King in Mullingar.

Since he was here last, he’s released another CD, Emmet Cahill’s Ireland. This collection offers the very best of the traditional Irish repertoire. Song selections include: "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen," "An Irish Lullaby," "My Cavan Girl," "Macushla," and more. It can be purchased through Amazon.com; iTunes; or on his website: EmmetCahill.com, which also has a lot more information about him, including his upcoming tour dates. Get him to autograph your CD after Mass next Sunday! And bring an Irish friend!

Pescador de Hombres (Lord, You Have Come)

posted Jan 20, 2018, 12:19 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 20, 2018, 12:20 PM ]

Born in 1936, Cesáreo Gabaráin was a Spanish priest who began studying music while at the minor seminary of Zaragoza. Also an athlete, he coached basketball and became known as the “priest of cyclists”. In 1966 he joined the Chamberí School of Marist Brothers in Madrid, where he discovered, like the St. Louis Jesuits did here in the U.S., that post-Vatican II there wasn’t a lot of singable music in his native vernacular. One of his concerns was that liturgical melodies be easily understood so that everyone could sing them. So he started composing his own, eventually writing over 500 songs in a Spanish-folk style.

While visiting Galilee, he was inspired by the passages in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke in which, after the miraculous catch, Jesus announces to Simon and his brother Andrew that he “will make you fishers of men.” They, and their companions James and John, leave everything behind and follow Jesus. Trying to share this experience with his own followers back in Spain, he wrote “Pescador de Hombres”.

In 1974, a Salesian priest translated it into Polish, calling it "Barka" (The Barge). A missionary then took it all over Poland, teaching it to people, especially at youth events. At some point, Pope John Paul II hears it, and it quickly became a favorite of his.

The Holy Father himself translated it into Croatian. It’s popular in a number of countries, and at least three different copyrighted English translations exist. It appears in the hymnals of numerous Christian denominations. And in a survey of more than 3,000 Catholics conducted online by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, it ranked 17
th in a preference of liturgical hymns.

In recognition of Fr. Gabaráin’s work in religious music, Pope John Paul II appointed him chaplain to His Holiness in 1980. Unfortunately, in 1991, Fr. Gabaráin unexpectedly died of cancer just before turning 55. But the gift of his music remains with us.

If We Must Marvel

posted Jan 20, 2018, 12:12 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 20, 2018, 12:12 PM ]

The Park Slope Singers kick off their 25
th anniversary season with a selection of works reflecting beginnings, creation, evolution, and the nature of human achievement in an afternoon of music entitled “If We Must Marvel.” The concert ranges from Franco-Flemish and Iberian Renaissance polyphony by Manuel Cardoso, Josquin des Pres and Jacob Clemens non Papa to contemporary works:

British composer Bob Chilcott’s “Five Days that Changed the World” and Grammy-winning American composer Eric Whitacre’s “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine” both reflect on human achievements. Exploring these themes via a different approach is Gregory W. Brown’s Missa Charles Darwin. This piece juxtaposes Darwin’s The Origin of Species with the Latin of the Catholic Mass ordinary. The “Agnus Dei” provides the Park Slope Singers with their concert title:
“If we must marvel, 
let it be at our presumption that we understand the many complex contingencies on which existence depends.” 

Steven Sametz’ “I Have Had Singing” examines the balance of life–how sometimes a difficult and strenuous road can be made enjoyable and memorable simply by the pleasures of singing. (Have you tried it?)

Performances are Saturday, January 27th at 2:00 PM at St. Saviour Church, and again on Sunday, January 28th at 3:00 PM at Church of the Good Shepherd. Admission is $15.00 ($10.00 for students / seniors). There will be a reception after each of the concerts. Please join them for snacks, drinks, and conversation. More information about this concert, ticket sales, and the chorus is available at www.parkslopesingers.org.

Welcome to Ministry Scheduler Pro

posted Jan 20, 2018, 11:56 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 20, 2018, 11:59 AM ]

Immaculate Heart of Mary is excited to put into place a new system that makes scheduling liturgical ministers and lay volunteers much easier for everyone! You can now specify exactly what dates and times you prefer, or do not work for you to volunteer! And you can check your schedule from anywhere and easily find a substitute when you can’t make one of your scheduled dates!

This weekend you should have received an email containing your username and password so you can login to the “Web Terminal” for the first time. (If you didn’t, please contact the staff member in charge of your ministry or the rectory office, since we obviously don’t have your correct email address.) In the Web Terminal, you can update your general information, your preferences and unavailable times. You can watch a short video or print a guide that will explain step by step how to update your information. And you can download a free app that will make it easier to view your scheduled dates, request and accept subs, and update your profile from your mobile device!

This Wednesday, January 10
th we’ll hold a live training in the Marian Center at 7:30 PM. So log in online, download your app, and if you have any questions, bring them to us Wednesday evening and we’ll help!

I know I don’t say it often enough to our music ministers, but on behalf of Fr. Ilyas and the entire staff, we want to thank all of our volunteers so much for the gift of your time and service!

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