…joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:11-14)
Kingdom of Light is what I have called a “symphonic scripture”— a symphonic expression of scriptural concepts. The piece is in seven parts, each representing a spiritual journey of a child of God’s life of faith. The entire piece might be construed as an analogy to the spiritual journey of one who puts his or her faith in Christ from the moment of rebirth to maturity.
Two musical elements permeate the piece. The first is a diatonic chord (later referred to as the “peace” chord) that is comprised of two perfect fifths stacked on top of a minor third. This chord symbolizes the peace one has with God through the redemption of his Son, Christ Jesus. The chord goes through several permutations as the music progresses, each transformation having symbolic significance in its immediate context. The other element, a heartbeat rhythm, symbolizes life and is also subjected to various transformations.
For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. (I Peter 1:2,3)
Birth, whether it be physical or spiritual, is traumatic. The music begins just before the moment of rebirth when one is struggling against unseen spiritual forces attempting to hinder him from making peace with God. This struggle is portrayed with agitated rhythms, particularly syncopated sixteenths and triplets, a chromatic motive, and an increasingly dense texture. The introduction culminates with a repeated chromatic chord that gives way to the “peace” chord at the beginning of Abundance.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10)
Abundance begins with the first occurrence of the “peace” chord, signaling the moment of decision to follow Christ and the beginning of a celebration of new life. The quick heartbeat rhythm symbolizes the fast heartbeat of an infant who has just come from the womb. At first quiet and intermittent, the heartbeat gradually impregnates the texture to become a dance rhythm exulting in the Creator and Giver of Life. The music builds to another climax based on the heartbeat rhythm and the “peace” chord before dissipating to a series of woodwind solos that functions as a transition to the Children of Light.
Children of Light (05:04)
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)
Children of Light playfully characterizes the youthful life of one who is learning to trust the Lord. Before long, however, one discovers that life, even new life, is more than play. The “peace” chord is transformed from a 4-note diatonic chord to a 5-note chord with a chromatic tone symbolizing growing pains and foreshadowing the foreboding battle that lies ahead. The primary melodic material here is a descending minor third that is often associated with children’s songs.
Dominion of Darkness (07:47)
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)
Dominion of Darkness opens with the heartbeat becoming a ritualistic incantation that mutates the “peace” chord into a chromatic cluster. Following is a development of the rhythms and chromatic motive from the introduction. A gradual chromatic ascent is associated with demonic forces rising from the abyss. The triplet rhythm becomes more syncopated, symbolizing the distorted “gallop” of demonic forces as they set out to attempt to destroy the child of God. This section also features the E-flat clarinet, which represents the mocking of the demonic leader.
Conquest: the Sword of the Spirit (13:02)
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit . . . . (Hebrews 4:12)
This section is the culmination of Kingdom of Light, as the swirling woodwinds, symbolizing a host of swarming demons, contribute to an increasingly dense texture. The original diatonic “peace” chord can be heard in conflict with its chromatic version as the battle rages. The sword of the Spirit is represented by quick slashes across the entire range of the orchestra, as the child of God remembers the example of Jesus and wields the Word of God to defeat the enemy, hurling the demonic forces into the abyss.
My grace is sufficient for you . . . . (II Corinthians 12:9)
Sufficiency is not as much a calm after the storm as it is a reflecting on God’s grace in all aspects of life. The “peace” chord returns to its diatonic state, but with an added diatonic tone, which represents, along with a slower heartbeat, maturation. Soloisitic woodwinds and a solo violin contribute to a chamber-like texture in contrast to the orchestral tutti of the previous section. Gradually the music builds to another climax that leads to the coda.
Coda: the High Calling (18:17)
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
After a moment of quiet reflection, the fast heartbeat rhythm returns, symbolizing the childlike faith that is required to enter the Kingdom of heaven. A final culmination of the heartbeat dissipates with string glissandos reaching heavenward.