Music Ministry Now:  Making a Joyful Noise During the Pandemic


Thank you for supporting this parish and encouraging its Music Ministry!  Your support and enthusiasm helps us to reach many people, helping the music of the church to touch their hearts and encourage their faith.

While choral singing is unsafe, our Music Ministry is continuing to make music “together,” while we’re apart. Members of our parish’s three choirs – Children, Youth and Adults – have been recording themselves individually in their homes, singing the hymns and music for Mass. Each hymn becomes its own recording project, guided by our Choir Director Jennifer Wu and Music Director James Lake.

Without the benefit of professional recording studio equipment in each home, each voice is recorded on whatever devices are available, typically each chorister’s cell phone. The individual recordings are sent in by email in the days before Mass is to be broadcast, and are digitally stitched together to form a “Virtual Choir.” The technical goal is to create a realistic impression of what we would all sound like if we were together making music in church. In addition to these newly home-made recordings, we’re also using some “archival” recordings that were made in the church during past events. Some of these were recorded professionally with good microphones, others were recorded casually on iPhones placed in the choir loft, and a few have been extracted from individuals’ Facebook live-streams of past events.

We believe that good liturgy – the public prayer of the faithful, no matter how altered our current experience of it may be – demands that we contribute our presence and our talents in some way. We also believe that local parishioners tuning in to view our parish Masses will find it meaningful to hear the familiar voices of the people of their neighborhood, the familiar sound of the church’s own pipe organ, and their usual organist and familiar cantors. Visitors tuning in who aren’t yet familiar with the voices of our community hopefully find the music and diversity of voices aesthetically pleasing. We hope that all listeners will find the song lyrics to be relevant and inspiring.

Would you like to add your voice to the mix? Each of us can inspire others, and each can benefit from spending a little time each week singing the songs of the church. In these times of re-imagined schedules and activities, singing for the church might be uplifting for you, and inspiring to others. Any interested person with an internet connection, anywhere in the world, could join us in singing a hymn from home each week, as we all prepare for Sunday’s Mass.  Send us an email at and we’ll help you get started, singing together while we’re apart.

A member of the Youth Choir, Singing from Home

Our Choir Director, Jen – singing from home

Our organist, Jim – at home, putting together the choirs’ tracks for broadcast.

A member of the Children’s Choir, singing from home

Valerie, a member of the Parish Adult Choir, singing from home

Music Info Links:

Wedding Music Guide
Children’s Choir Info
Adult Choir Info

About Music at Sacred Hearts & St Stephen:

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord” – Psalm 100
“Speak to one another with psalms, songs, and hymns of praise” – Ephesians 5:19

The reverberant acoustics of our historic church make an ideal setting for joyful noises and hymns of praise. And the magnificent old pipe organ, with 31 ranks and over 2,000 pipes, is truly one of the treasures of Carroll Gardens.

Singing at Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen: Singing together with sincere hearts is one of the best ways a congregation can offer praise to God, and everyone who attends our church is encouraged to raise their voice in song. The leaders’ voices you hear singing at most Masses are that of our Music Director, Jim Lake and Choir Director, Jennifer Wu. The Parish Choirs sing at the major celebrations of the church year – All Saints, All Souls, Immaculate Conception, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week, Pentecost, and Corpus Christi. The choirs are made up of volunteers from the parish, and new volunteers are always welcome. Click here to visit the Choir Website

Getting Involved in Music: Your talents, questions and comments regarding music at Sacred Hearts-St. Stephen’s Church are welcome and encouraged. Stop by the organ loft after Sunday Mass, or send an email to the music director. Your financial contributions to our music program are also welcome. Expenses throughout the year include: guest musicians for special events (Christmas, Easter, Confirmation, First Communion, etc), ongoing maintenance and repair of the pipe organ and grand pianos, acquisition and maintenance of audio equipment and sheet music.

Wedding Music: Couples planning weddings at Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen should contact the Music Director as early as possible to discuss the music for their ceremony. Couples should consider what music will be meaningful to those present at your ceremony. All music must be liturgical, but there are plenty of options! We strongly recommend you consider having additional musicians contribute to your wedding liturgy – the Music Director maintains a list of approved musicians. Trumpets make the occasion sound grand and breath-taking, and adding a female vocalist allows for the singing of male/female duets – a perfect musical representation of the act of marriage. Extra musicians will each have their own fees, but the cost is little compared with most wedding expenses, and your ceremony will benefit greatly from this relatively small investment. Click here to send email to the Music Director. Or Click here to visit the parish’s online guide to planning your wedding music.

Music Director:  Jim Lake is the Parish Organist and Music Director at Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen Church, and is responsible for the music at all liturgies and celebrations of the parish and its families. Jim has been the parish organist at Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen since May, 2003. He earned his Master of Music degree in classical performance from Manhattan School of Music, and holds a Bachelor of Music degree, also in classical performance, from Rice University’s prestigious Shepherd School of Music. Mr. Lake has performed in concerts at all of New York City’s major concert halls, and has provided liturgical music at hundreds of churches in the New York Archdiocese, Brooklyn Diocese, and the Diocese of Rockville Center, including special events at the major cathedrals. In addition to playing the organ, Jim has a strong background in brass music, playing trumpet in orchestras, shows, and churches throughout the New York City area. Click here for more information about Jim.

Pipe Organ:  The New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists maintains a website about the instruments in our city. Click here to visit their site for historical information about the pipe organs at Sacred Hearts & St. Stephen.  For information on the current status of the instrument, email Jim Lake.