Sacred Song Service to highlight courageous women of faith


Courage means different things to different people, and can be shown in a variety of ways. With a focus specifically on heroines of faith, Chautauquans can expect a tribute to great women of the last 150 years for this week’s Sacred Song Service.

The service, themed “Heroes of the Faith,” will be at 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 14 in the Amphitheater. Josh Stafford, director of sacred music and Jared Jacobsen Chair for the Organist, pulled from conversations he had with people asking what names spark “hero of the faith” to them.

“I’m going back and thinking about these various people, who are sort of modern saints, important people in the faith over the last 150 years, and trying to narrow it down to a handful of people,” Stafford said. “This is the kind of service you could easily fill with three hours worth of content.”

One of the texts he is using is “I Sing a Song of the Saints of God,” by Lesbia Scott, which praises the saints who came before, and those who people meet in everyday life.

Other hymns included are “For all the Faithful Women,” a Finnish folk melody, and John Wyeth’s “My Soul Gives Glory to My God.”

When looking for texts, hymns and anthems for Sacred Song, Stafford is usually in the office by 7:30 a.m. and begins his day with printing copies of music. Then comes an 8:15 a.m. morning rehearsal with the Motet Choir, followed by the 9:15 a.m. morning worship service, and then back to the office. The rest of his day is usually filled with rehearsals or meetings to prepare for upcoming services and programs.

“My goal is always around 2 p.m. to take an hour and walk the dog and just get out of the office or away from planning and all the work,” Stafford said. “My typical day is sort of 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.”

As the season begins to close, Stafford is reflecting on the summer so far and thinking ahead to what next year will look like.

“I’m feeling really good about the work that the choirs have done this year, and really happy with the work Nicholas (Stigall) has done as our first organ scholar,” Stafford said.

He’s now asking himself, “What’s next? What changes do we need to make? What’s working and what’s not working?”

“(We’re) starting to build the Motet Choir for next season, so we’ve been auditioning people … and now start to sit down and actually lay out who’s here,” Stafford said. “(We’re) looking forward to welcoming Bishop Eugene Sutton as our new senior pastor (in September), and excited to see what that means for worship and music at Chautauqua.”

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The author Kaitlyn Finchler

Kaitlyn Finchler is a journalism and public relations graduate from Kent State University as of May. This will be her second summer at Chautauqua where she will cover literary arts, serving previously as the Interfaith Lecture Series preview reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading, cooking or flipping between “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gossip Girl.” She’s most excited to see how many times she can slip the word “plethora” into her stories before Sara makes her stop again.