“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.

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!

For Auld Lang Syne

posted Jan 20, 2018, 11:47 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 20, 2018, 11:47 AM ]

Second only to “Happy Birthday” as the most widely known song in the English speaking world; most people throughout the civilized world either sing it or hear every New Year's Eve. Yet few of us actually know what these three words are all about…

Translated literally, the title means “old long since.” As it appears in the chorus of the song, For auld lang syne loosely translates to “For (the sake of) old times.” The song begins by posing two rhetorical questions as to whether it is right that old times be forgotten; since by remembering the past, we reaffirm the importance of our future, and those important to us.

Robert Burns, the national poet of Scotland, “restored” the text around 1788 from fragments of old ballads dating as far back as 15
th century Scotland, and set it to a traditional folk song. However, his lyrics were paired with the more famous melody we sing today by George Thompson in his 1799 publication A Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs.

Singing the song on New Year’s Eve very quickly became a Scots custom that soon spread to other parts of the British Isles. And as people immigrated to the new world, they took the song with them. Beginning in 1929, just two months after the stock market crash and beginning of the Great Depression, Canadian band leader Guy Lombardo is credited for cementing its popularity as an expression of hope though his annual New Year’s Eve broadcasts on radio and later, television. It’s been heard in many memorable film scenes: the ending of It’s a Wonderful Life; as a tidal wave capsizes a luxury ship in The Poseidon Adventure and the charming climax as two people finally declare their love for each other in When Harry Met Sally...

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and old lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Las Posadas

posted Jan 20, 2018, 11:38 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Jan 20, 2018, 11:47 AM ]

The tradition of
Las Posadas was brought to Mexico in the 1500's by Catholic Missionaries from Spain. Meaning "The Inns", the tradition re-enacts—with a twist, and a happy ending—the story of the journey that Joseph and Mary made from Nazareth to Bethlehem in search of a safe refuge where Mary could give birth to the baby Jesus. As you know, when they were unable to find lodging, they were forced to seek shelter in a stable. But we learn from Las Posadas that by welcoming the poor and the needy, we are welcoming Jesus in our midst.

Each evening for nine nights leading up to Christmas, a candle-lit procession carrying statues of Mary and Joseph visit designated homes singing the first half of a song asking for shelter. The people inside respond singing the second part, that of the innkeeper, saying there is no room. This repeats back and forth a few times at a few different houses until finally reaching the local church, where the inside "innkeepers" decide to let them in. Then the doors open and everyone comes inside for Mass, followed by a party.

Here in the U.S., a growing number of parishes (like ours this year) are adapting this tradition into a one-time procession which starts outside the church just before Midnight Mass, and the whole congregation participates. Some, (the pilgrims) gather outside or in the front lobby while others (the innkeepers) wait inside. The song is sung in both English and Spanish, and ends with the pilgrims entering the “inn” to a joyous welcome, processing with children dressed as Mary and Joseph carrying the statue of Jesus; to place them in the crèche...

Entren santos peregrinos, reciban este rincón.
Aunque_es pobre la morada, os la doy de corazón.

Enter, holy pilgrims. Welcome to my humble home.
Though ‘tis little I can offer,
all I have please call your own.

The Spirit of Christmas Future

posted Dec 16, 2017, 11:14 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Dec 16, 2017, 11:15 AM ]

This Christmas, as our parish celebrates its quasquicentennial, imagine what Christmas was like 125 years ago in 1892:

New-fangled electric tree lights were all the rage, and metal ornament hooks were introduced that year. Composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky also debuted his brand new Christmas ballet The Nutcracker in St. Petersburg.

Hanging stockings in anticipation of Santa Claus’ night-time arrival was a brand new tradition, causing many concerned clergymen to preach against it because they feared that the emergence of such a folk culture would draw people’s attention away from their celebration of Christ’s birth! (Were they right about some people?)

"Tasteful" presents were articles that did not cost any money, such as a piece of music, a hand-written note, a few flowers, or a handmade work of love. If you did have money to spend on presents, it was considered a waste to spend it on people richer than yourself, but a virtue to give to anyone poorer.

Christmas dinner was either turkey, boiled fish or boiled ham, served with mushroom patties, potato snow, minced cabbage, creamed tomatoes, sweet potato croquettes or mayonnaise of beets. Sound appetizing?

But we can’t just look back. Our parish must also consider the next 125 years, so for the 13
th Annual Lighting of Trees and Angels, Immaculate Heart of Mary celebrates “The Spirit of Christmas Future” as our Faith Formation students lead us in classic Christmas carols. As they do every year, the Boy Scouts will usher in the Peace Light. cuori BELLissimi! will accompany us on a couple carols, and our adult choir will perform as well, for a truly multi-generational experience. It all starts at 6:30 PM in church, with the lighting around 7:00 PM. Come and support our future!

For Us a Child is Born; Bach Cantata 142

posted Dec 10, 2017, 10:18 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Dec 10, 2017, 10:18 AM ]

This Friday, December 15
th, at 7:30 in the evening, the Diocesan Choir, Celestial Voices and Chamber Orchestra present “A Celebration of the Nativity” at Resurrection-Ascension Church in Rego Park. I’m singing with them, and in addition to many carols, we’ll be performing the Christmas cantata Uns ist ein Kind geboren (Unto us a child is born), BWV 142.

A cantata is a vocal composition usually with soloists, choir and orchestra, typically in several movements. While Bach was working at St. Thomas in Leipzig, he started a project of composing one cantata for each Sunday and holiday of the liturgical year. Most Bach scholars don't believe he composed this particular cantata, although the identity of the actual composer has not been established. It's considered plausible that his predecessor may have composed this one to complete an unfinished cycle, since a cantata with this title is listed as having been performed in both of the main churches in Leipzig—the Thomaskirche and Nikolaikirche–on Christmas Day, 1720, though Bach was no longer working there at this time, and there's no record of this cantata being performed before then.

The libretto's text was written by a German Lutheran pastor and first published in 1711. While it’s opening text is “Unto us a child is born”, it’s final chorale translates as:

Alleluia, Alleluia, Praised be God, 
Let us sing from the depths of our heart, 
For God has wrought such joy today, 
That at no time should we ever forget it. 

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