For many church musicians, summer is a time of rest from the rigors of the rest of the year. Music teachers find a respite in their school schedule, lesson teachers find that students take more time off during the summer, and church music directors, cantors, and organists often take the summer to break from the usual choir rehearsals and demands of festival Sundays. We need rest.
Trinity Season and a Time for Rest
After all, God has given us both our souls and our bodies, and our bodies need rest. Even in His creation of the world, God instituted a day for rest after His work was done. Jesus took time to distance Himself from the crowds that often followed Him. He took time to be by Himself to pray and to rest. Our God has given us a body that we are to treat with dignity as a part of His own creation. As the incarnation of God in the womb of the Virgin Mary makes known to us, bodies are important and are made to be tended to, along with our souls.
The Church Year and the Season of Trinity
For this reason, the Church Year is a great blessing to us. In the cycle of feast days and in ordinary time, we see a reflection of the reality of life in its highest celebrations, and its times of needful rest. The cycle is so evident that it is reflected in nature and in secular society. Our liturgical calendar provides for a time of rest during the season of Trinity, also known as ordinary time. This time of rest corresponds in our culture (and hemisphere) to summer, the time of breaks from school, family vacations, and an often more relaxed work schedule.
The liturgical color for the season of Trinity is green, a color symbolizing life and growth as we continue to grow in our faith and in our knowledge of Scripture. Consider how appropriate this is for a summer season of green trees and fields and the growing of crops and gardens. The days are longer and warmer, requiring less energy to keep warm and fewer battles with blizzards and sub-zero temps. The life all around us is scientifically and anecdotally proven to inspire better moods and healthier minds and bodies.
A Time for Everything in the Church Year
The Church Year embodies Ecclesiastes 3, in which we are told that there is a time for everything. It clearly provides us with times to mourn and times to dance, times to weep and times to laugh. It also gives us as church musicians times to labor and times to rest. As 2020 clearly showed us, we do not want a year without any major celebrations, despite the hard work we put into each one and the exhaustion we experience afterward. On the other hand, we do not want a year with only joyful celebrations, either. Humans need the physical and emotional rest that comes with “normal” life. We need the more relaxed routine of ordinary time. Ever reflective of the reality of human nature, the Church Year provides this more restful season for all Christians.
Like all seasons, this season has its share of struggles, even in the part of the world that enjoys a more temperate time of year in these coming months. Consider the climates that reach dangerously high temperatures, endangering infrastructure and lives during this time of year. We must also contend with fierce summer thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes that threaten lives and livelihoods. For some vocations, this time of year might mean an increase in work and more hectic schedules. God gives many of us rest at this time, but the sinful world continually reminds us that true rest is yet to come in our heavenly home.
Giving Our Bodies Rest
As church musicians, it is important to take advantage of this time to rest. The human body, a beloved and important creation of God, requires rest. Our bodies are not inconveniences that our more inspired souls must begrudgingly inhabit. Instead, we believe in the bodily resurrection, meaning that our bodies and our souls will be raised again. God has given us our bodies for a reason. We have fingers that can play a Bach toccata and fugue, feet that provide a steady and solid bass line on the organ while also supporting us as we stand in front of a class or a choir, mouths that proclaim the wonders of God, and lungs that give us breath to sing hymns. Let us then treat our bodies as creations of God.
As God in His wisdom has gifted us rest, we praise Him that we belong to a Church with realistic and wonderful rhythms of daily and yearly life that give us the time to mourn, the time to celebrate, the time to labor, and the time to rest.
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