Life of Worship (2016)
‘Life of worship’ was composed at the request of John Lam and the London Citadel and Canadian Staff Bands, and is dedicated to the life of John’s wife, Jane. The piece features three songs which were significant to Jane – ‘Agnus Dei’, ‘Come to Jesus’ and ‘Christ is all’, the latter two of which were sung at her service of thanksgiving. It was my privilege to be able to spend some time with and get to know Jane, if only briefly, after she was admitted to hospital in August 2016. Little did we know that a few short weeks later she would be ‘Promoted to Glory’. It seems fitting then that this piece is dedicated to her memory.
‘Life of worship’ starts out in pensive fashion, with references to the tune ‘Agnus Dei’, a stepwise, rising theme which pervades the music, and almost out of nowhere comes a forceful statement of the chorus, ‘Holy, Holy, are you Lord God, Almighty’. Soon the mood settles down and ‘Agnus Dei’ is heard in its full form. At letter F, the ‘chains come off’, and the tune is heard in its full glory, with the words ‘Alleluia, Alleluia, For the Lord God Almighty reigns’ blazing forth.
A slowing down of the tempo occurs before letter I and heralds a new theme, with several solo voices from around the band drawing us into ‘Come to Jesus’, played by the Solo Cornet. Two changes of key lift the music dramatically with a climactic section at letter K reiterating the words of the third verse, ‘Fall on Jesus, and live!’. This leads suddenly into a reference to the verse of ‘Christ is all’, in a gentle cross-rhythm to the established flow of the music.
The serenity proves to be temporary, interrupted as it is at letter L by an energetic, jagged, metrically irregular extended passage. Although joyful in nature, there is a pervading sense of restlessness undergirding the music here which demands resolution, and this comes at letter O with a recapitulation of ‘Come to Jesus’ in its full glory, although this time in cut time with driving percussion rhythms. The opening rhythmic motif returns with a short presto and coda tying the work together. The final strains of ‘Holy, Holy, are you Lord God, Almighty’ are testament to a life lived to the full, a ‘Life of worship’.