I've come up with a theory, or a method of comprehending the officers in all these orders.
My theory is that there are only three archetypal officers, represented by the three principal officers: The Worshipful Master, Senior, and Junior Wardens.
We are told that anciently, Master Mason Lodges consisted of three members only and held their meetings in the Holy of Holies. In modern Lodges, it is typically deemed impossible to open with only three officers, and in my jurisdiction, at least, it is constitutionally prohibited. We need at least five to form a quorum to open for business. Nonetheless, there probably was a time in the history of the craft when a lodge of three only would have opened. I have tried to envision how this would work, and with the help of the other York Rite bodies, the Council of Cryptic Masons, in particular, I believe I see how this would have been done.
I have named the archetypal purpose of the three officers: "Master," "Guardian," and "Guide."
In a Symbolic Lodge, each of the principal officers has many of their duties delegated to subordinate officers:
The Worshipful Master fulfills the "Master" archetype. His duty is delegated to the Lecturer or Orator, as well as the Chaplain, the Secretary, and the Treasurer. I would like to call attention to the letter "G" displayed above the Master's chair in most lodges. This letter should symbolize the source for him to receive instruction and orders that he conveys to the brethren so that they may perform their labor. The Master gives the Apron to each new Entered Apprentice, presents us with Working Tools and teaches us their uses, and gives us Masonic instruction as we progress.
The Senior Warden fulfills the "Guardian" archetype. His duty is delegated to the Junior Deacon or Inner Guard and the Tyler. He is the officer which the Master consults with during the process of "purging the Lodge," a procedure which ensures that only Masons of the appropriate rank are present prior to opening. In the Council of Cryptic Masons, the officer seated in the West is actually called the "Captain of the Guard" and when the Master issues orders for the room to be secured, the orders pass through the Captain of the Guard to the "Steward" (who functions exactly like the Junior Deacon or Inner Guard and is stationed at the same place, inside the door.) This process of relaying instructions more clearly demonstrates the delegation which I am sure at one time was also present in the Symbolic Degrees (and may be still present in some jurisdictions.)
The Junior Warden fulfills the "Guide" archetype. His duty is delegated to the Senior Deacon and to the Stewards or Junior Deacon (whichever of these officers is responsible for preparing candidates and bringing them to the door of the Lodge, in your particular jurisdiction.) In the Council of Cryptic Masons, the officer seated in the South is called the "Conductor of the Council" and his duties are equivalent to those of the Senior Deacon, including that of opening and closing the VSL. He may be assisted by a Marshal in some jurisdictions. I will point out that the VSL is a symbol that we are specifically told should be the "guide" of our faith. It is therefore a fitting symbol to be in the care of the officer whose duty it is to be our Guide. In the Symbolic Lodge, the Junior Warden rarely acts as a guide directly, but he is the one who gives us directions from the Master, calls the craft from Labor to Refreshment and superintends us under his immediate care. It is important to note the distinction between the "Master" and the "Guide" archetype. The Master gives us instructions for our labors. But the Guide actually walks with us on our journey, and often speaks in our behalf, and can often give an answer "for us" even if we "have it not."
Now, with this understanding, you should be able to think about how a Lodge would have opened with only three officers:
The "Master" would ask the "Guardian" to secure and purge the lodge, and then quiz him as to the particulars of the Master Mason degree, and as to the duties of the officers. The Master would then issue the Order to open Lodge. The "Guardian" would inform the "Guide" of the Master's intention, and the "Guide" would call upon the other craftsmen (if any) to look to the East. The "Master" would lead them in the secret work, after which, the battery would be given. Finally, the "Master" would offer prayer, after which he would declare the Lodge opened, and ask the "Guide" to attend the altar and display the Lights. The "Master" would proceed with business, keeping a thorough record of all transactions.
To close Lodge, the "Master" would quiz the "Guardian"as to the duties of the officers, and then issue the Order to close Lodge. The "Guardian" would inform the "Guide" of the Master's intention, and the "Guide" would call upon the other craftsmen (if any) to look to the East. The "Master" would lead them in the secret work, after which, the battery would be given. Finally, the "Master" would offer prayer, after which he would declare the Lodge closed, and ask the "Guide" to attend the altar and close the Lights.
In Royal Arch, Cryptic Masons, and Knights Templar, the executive powers of the Principal Officers is consolidated into a governing Council which is seated in the East, while many physical duties of these officers are delegated to others:
In the Chapter of Royal Arch Masons, the Excellent High Priest delegates some of his executive and instructive administrative duties to the King and Scribe, who all fulfill the "Master" archetype together (with the Treasurer and Secretary.) The Captain of the Host, the Royal Arch Captain, the Three Masters of the Veils, and the Sentinel are delegates of the "Guardian" archetype, while the Principal Sojourner is a delegate of the "Guide" archetype.
In the Council of Royal and Select Masters (or Cryptic Masons), the Illustrious Master and Deputy Master fulfill the "Master" archetype together. The Principal Conductor of the Work still fulfills aspects of the "Guide" archetype by proclaiming the time for refreshment and labor, but most of the "Guide" duties are delegated to the Conductor of the Council (and sometimes to a Marshal). The Captain of the Guard, the Steward, and Sentinel are delegates of the "Guardian" archetype.
In the Commandery of Knights Templar, the Eminent Commander, the Generalissimo, and the Captain General form the administrative operations of the "Master" archetype together. The Prelate forms an additional layer of the "Master" archetype and is said to "preside over the Royal Arch Council" which equates him to the Excellent High Priest of the Chapter. The duties of the "Senior Warden" and "Junior Warden" correspond with those of Cryptic Masonry's "Captain of the Guard" ("Guardian" archetype) and "Conductor of the Council" ("Guide" archetype), and in following the Excellent High Priest analogy, they would correlate with the positions of King and Scribe in the Royal Arch. The Warder, the Guards, and the Sentinel are also extensions of the "Guardian" archetype. I'm not aware enough of the duties of the Standard Bearer and Sword Bearer to comment on how they correlate to these archetypes.
As a closing thought, the Master, Guardian, and Guide archetypes might extend far beyond the structure of Masonry into other realms. They can be found in nearly every fairytale or fantasy story, as well as in theology and religion: A Christian Mason, for example, might find that these archetypes can be applied to the Father (Master), Son (Guard), and Holy Ghost (Guide).
I hope you found this subject interesting!