…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Time Like an Ever-rolling Stream

Around the Liturgical Year with a M.O.M.*

By Eric Chaffey


Ever have one of those awkward moments when some of your work jargon slips out, and the person you’re talking to you just gives you a blank look? If you’re anything like me it happens once in a while. So with this blog post I thought I would share a little about what I do for a living.

My official title is Minister of Music. I’ve often been a little uncomfortable using the title when describing what I do. But after three years I’m getting a little more comfortable with it. The worship steering team and the choir sometimes affectionately call me “mom.” (The abbreviation for Minister of Music) Especially at times when I start taking myself too seriously or am getting needlessly anxious about something. Me anxious? Nah…

Principally, my job is as organist and choir director. But I also work with the pastor and the worship steering team to select music for the various seasons of the church year. Church year? I’m glad you asked ☺. The church year is a little different as opposed to the calendar year. Here is sort of a rundown of the church year as observed in the Lutheran Church.

The church year begins on the first Sunday in December with the season of Advent. Advent is the four weeks leading up to Christmas Eve.

Christmas goes from December 24th to January 5th. January 6th begins the season of Epiphany. The feast of the Epiphany is celebrated to commemorate the arrival of the Wise men from the East, and their presentation of gifts and prophecies to the holy family. Epiphany lasts for roughly 6 weeks.

Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, which lasts 40 days. The 40 days is a representation of Christ fasting and praying in the wilderness for 40 days prior to beginning his mortal ministry.

Holy week begins with Palm Sunday commemorating Christ’s Triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Maundy Thursday is the commemoration of the Last Supper. Good Friday represents the events of the crucifixion.

Easter Vigil is sometimes held late in the Evening on Saturday. Then comes Easter Sunday, which begins the season of Easter. The season of Easter goes from Easter Sunday for 50 Days to the day of Ascension.

The Sunday following the Ascension is Pentecost Sunday. After Pentecost Sunday there is a period of several months where there may be some minor festival Sundays, but generally it’s a period called “ordinary time.”

On the last Sunday in October closest to October 31, there is festival Sunday called Reformation; which commemorates the beginning of the Protestant Reformation, which began on October 31, 1517 when Martin Luther nailed 95 thesis statements to the door of the church at Wittenberg. There are a number of important things that came about in the reformation that shaped the way many churches do things today. Martin Luther thought that people should be able to read the scriptures themselves in their own language. Another practice that Martin Luther introduced was the singing of hymns by the congregation. He wrote many hymns. The most famous of his hymns is “A Mighty Fortress” which is sometimes called the battle hymn of the Reformation.

Following Reformation Sunday is the feast of All Saints. All Saints Sunday commemorates faithful saints in every age who have died. One of the things they do on that day is to read the names of loved ones who have passed away and offer prayers of comfort and strength for their families who are still alive. One might think this day to be sort of a gloomy one. But it’s actually a very joyous one celebrating and honoring the lives of those who have gone before. This year I wrote a choral anthem based on a Russian hymn tune for the choir to sing. Some of my personal favorite hymns are ones associated with All Saints Day including “O God Our Help in Ages Past” “For All the Saints” “Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand.” There are a couple of verses of “O God Our Help in Ages Past” that I particularly like:

A thousand ages in thy sight are like an evening gone,
Short as the watch that ends the night, before the rising sun.

Time like an ever-rolling stream, bears all it’s sons away,
They fly forgotten as a dream dies at the opening day.

O God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Still be our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home.

The last Sunday in the church year is the feast of Christ the King. This particular Sunday has a lot of emphasis on the second coming. A lot of the scripture readings come from Revelation. This year for this Sunday we did something a little daring and had the choir sing the “Hallelujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah.” It was a little daring as it’s something that they’ve never done before, but they did it beautifully.

So that’s the Church year in a nutshell. In the Lutheran Church, in addition to hymns there is additional music that is part of the service. Some of comes from a source book, but if either the pastor or I can’t find something that we like that seems to fit, I will write something. Playing the organ, directing the choir, and occasionally composing something for the service music or for the choir to sing are some of the most rewarding aspects of my job.

In spite of some people’s misgivings about what I do for a living and how it might impact my faith, I really love what I do. If anything I think it’s strengthen and deepened my faith and given me more encouragement and incentive to continually strive to live the commandments and keep the sacred covenants I have made with God. So is it possible to be faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and work as a Minister of Music for another church? Absolutely! And doing so is a great joy. Some things I never dreamed of doing five years ago are getting a little easier as time goes by including the administrative and organizational details of the job; such as budgeting for music, as well as maintenance of the organ and piano and working with other members of the worship team to plan out services and music events. While at times the work of a Minister of Music can seem daunting and overwhelming, with prayer and with sharing some of the load with others it makes it easier.

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2 Responses to “Time Like an Ever-rolling Stream”

  1. Rex Goode said:

    Eric, I messed up the site so bad trying to make some changes that I couldn’t get to read your post until today. I have a whole different jargon problem with my work. Thanks for being a good MOM and especially for your posts here. (BTW, the visual editor is fixed now, I hope.)

  2. Eric Chaffey said:

    Thanks Rex,

    I appreciate your feedback and support.

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