Dec. 5 marked the premiere of the piece, "Lion's Heart."

Mount St. Joseph bands playing

On Tuesday, Dec. 5, Mount St. Joseph University held its first annual “Ugly Christmas Sweater Invitational” in the University Theatre with performances from Voices of Gold, Percussion Ensemble, Jazz Band, University Singers, Steel Drum Band, Concert Band, and from a combined group of Band, Choir, and Invited Community Members.

Uniquely, the combined portion premiered the Mount’s new Alma Mater, “Lion’s Heart” composed by Performing Arts Chairperson, Mark McCafferty after a special request from President H. James Williams, Ph.D.

“Dr. Williams first requested an Alma Mater shortly after arriving on campus, saying that an Alma Mater is something to build tradition, community, and belonging,” says McCafferty. “I undertook a review of songs from the Mount’s past that had been used as an Alma Mater, but had fallen out of use. Several of them existed, but nothing seemed to fit, and most of them dated from a time when the school was not co-ed.”

After a number of years, Dr. Williams revisited his request for an Alma Mater, and McCafferty assured that he was still searching, until the idea struck him---What if McCafferty composed one himself? He took the time to consider what Mount St. Joseph University meant to him, and inspiration inevitably surfaced.

“Dr. Williams told me that it mattered more that we get it right than that we get something quickly,” he asserts. “I am really glad for that.”

McCafferty began by composing a “lead-sheet” version, which only had melody, words, and the simplest of harmonies. Fast forward to summer of 2023, he was awarded a summer grant to help him find time and resources to finish the composition of what would become “Lion’s Heart.”

By late summer of 2023, the song was complete and was approved.

“I didn’t announce the new composition in a large way, as I wanted that to happen at the premiere of the piece,” he says. “Tuesday marked the premiere of the piece, and I am very happy with the result.”

Among many others in his life, McCafferty credits those at the Mount whom have positively influenced his journey. “Lion’s Heart” embodies what the University means to him, and the individuals its mission serves. 

“The Mount Community has transformed me, and continues to Light the Way,” exclaims McCafferty. “Truly, let us form our hearts at MSJ!”