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Written in 1983 for the Canadian Staff Band’s second tour of Britain and revised by the composer for the Staff Band’s 40th anniversary in 2009, this major work is a descriptive tone poem based on the sinking of the liner Empress of Ireland on 29 May 1914. The event was a cataclysm for the Salvation Army in Canada, as 167 Salvationists, including most of the top leadership and all but nine members of the original Canadian Staff Band, perished in the tragedy, while en route to an International Congress in London, England.
Deus Vobiscum – Latin for “God be with you” – is a greeting often used in times past and still in current use in some denominations. The expression underlines the glorious truth that God is, indeed, with the Christian at every moment and in every aspect of life and death, through which the believer enters his new life with Christ.
Blending music and Scripture, this composition is a study on the hymn tune “Bullinger”, which is associated with the words “I am trusting Thee, Lord Jesus”. These words express the simple but all-pervading faith of the Christian, as demonstrated by Salvationists on that cold and dreadful night.
The first part of the music expresses the optimism which which the ship set sail. This is followed by the sudden horror of collision, causing panic and fear. This, in turn, leads to indomitable hope, demonstrating the glorious truth of the Gospel, that even when life has done its worst, literally and metaphorically, the Christian can still say with certainty, “I am trusting Thee for ever, and for all’.