Illuminate was composed for the Chicago Staff Band’s performance at The Salvation Army’s Boundless International Congress 2015 at London’s O2 Arena. The music takes the listener on a journey of a Christian life, a life that is called to be a light in this dark world. The work starts out in optimistic fashion, with various musical pictures describing the joy of someone who has just received Christ into their life. Referencing Matthew 5:14-16, ‘And you beloved, are the light of the world, a city built on a hilltop cannot be hidden. Similarly it would be silly to light a lamp and then hide it under a bowl. When someone lights a lamp, she puts it on a table… and the light illuminates the entire house. You are like that illuminating light.’ (The Voice)
Three songs are featured, firstly Shine on us (Michael W. Smith), with references to Speak, O Lord (Keith Getty & Stuart Townend), which is later heard in its complete form in the middle section in a time of reflection. Here there is a plea to ‘Speak, O Lord, as we come to You, to receive the power of Your Holy Word’, before a declaration ‘…That the light of Christ might be seen today in our acts of love and our deeds of faith.’ This time of challenge ends with the poignant promise sounded by Evangeline Booth’s song, The World for God, in the solo flugel horn: ‘The world for God! I give my heart! I’ll do my part!’
The final movement is full of unrelenting energy, with references again to Matthew 5:16: ‘Let your light shine everywhere you go, that you may illuminate creation, so men and women everywhere may see your good actions, may see creation at its fullest, may see your devotion to me and may turn and praise your Father in Heaven because of it.’ The song Shine on us returns in full glory as a call to the Lord to ‘Let your light, light of your face, shine on us.’ However, this time the tune is juxtaposed with both The World for God and Speak, O Lord, and the challenge for us all to go out into the world and be shining lights.