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Hymns That Lift Our Hearts and Minds to God

with Keith and Kristyn Getty | November 22, 2012

Dennis Rainey talks with Irish composers and artists, Keith and Kristyn Getty, the talent behind the popular hymns "In Christ Alone" and "Speak Oh Lord". Find out why they're on a mission to revive the art of hymnody for a new generation.

Dennis Rainey talks with Irish composers and artists, Keith and Kristyn Getty, the talent behind the popular hymns "In Christ Alone" and "Speak Oh Lord". Find out why they're on a mission to revive the art of hymnody for a new generation.

Hymns That Lift Our Hearts and Minds to God

With Keith and Kristyn Getty
|
November 22, 2012
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob:  Over the last quarter of a century, there have been thousands of new songs written for the church to sing.  When Keith and Kristyn Getty sat down to write worship songs for the church, they decided they would write songs where the lyrics were more like the old hymns. 

[Kristyn sings “In Christ Alone”, verse one]

Keith: We wanted to write songs that you can't take the hit lines of the song, jumble them all up, and if they still rhyme, it still works.  We wanted to write a song that was in a logical order; but we find, with the story, people will sing story all the time, even if they're not wanting objective facts all the time. 

And, of course, it's a principle that Jesus was able to use in His parables.  Through story, people will sing theology and doctrine until they're blue in the face.

[Kristyn sings “In Christ Alone”, verse two]

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, November 22nd, Thanksgiving Day here in the United States.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. 

You may have sung that new hymn before.  That’s actually a brand-new arrangement of the hymn “In Christ Alone” from the brand-new CD Hymns for the Christian Life by Keith and Kristyn Getty.  We'll introduce you to Keith and Kristyn on our Thanksgiving Day program.

[Kristyn sings “In Christ Alone”, verse three]

Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  If you were to go to your hymnal and look for one of the oldest hymns, and look for one with an Irish melody, -- I’m just giving you a clue.

Dennis:  Bob, why do you ask me these questions that you know I don't stand a chance of answering?

Bob: Because you like this hymn. 

Dennis: Let's ask our guests. . .

Bob:  This is a hymn . . .

Dennis:  They know what the hymn is.  They're from Ireland.

Bob: I know they know. I'm just trying to put you on the spot here.

Dennis: Well, of course, you are.  Would you introduce our guest for us?

Bob: Kristyn Getty.

Kristyn: Hi.

Bob: What is the song that we'd find in our hymnals that's one of the oldest songs?

Kristyn: "Be Thou My Vision."

Dennis: There we go.

Bob:  And you knew that now?

Dennis: I did, I knew.  Not now - I knew it before then, you knew that.

Kristyn: Sing us a verse of it.

Dennis: You don't want that.  (Laughter)

Bob: Keith and Kristyn Getty are joining us on FamilyLife Today.  Welcome to the program.

Keith: Thank you, Bob.

Kristyn: Thank you.

Bob: It's nice to have you both here, and, for those who don't know, Keith and Kristyn are songwriters and …

Dennis: In case our listeners haven't picked up on it yet, Keith and Kristyn have a Northern accent.

Bob: Yes, Northern …

Dennis: Ireland.

Keith: Dakota.

Dennis: No.

Kristyn: Northern Ireland, you're right. Yes, we're from the UK.

Bob: And both of you born and raised in the United Kingdom?

Kristyn: We both grew up—I was just a little north of Belfast; and Keith this side of Belfast.

Bob: And that's County …

Kristyn: County Antrim.

Bob: Antrim?

Kristyn: Antrim, which is also the home of the Giant's Causeway, but that's right in the north on the coast, and we're from down in the city.

Kristyn: The Giant's Causeway?

Keith: Nobody's heard of that here, Sweetie.

Bob: What is the Giant's Causeway?

Kristyn: Well, if you were to buy that little book, A Thousand Places to See before You Die, that would be one of them.  It's a very bizarre rock formation; they're just shaped at various different levels, just right on the coast, and there's a whole legend and myth, but I will not burden you with something so silly.  But there you go.

Bob: Folks who know you, know you primarily for your modern hymns, and probably the best known of those is the hymn "In Christ Alone."

Keith: That's right; I wrote that with Stuart Townend back in 2001.

Bob: And since that time, that's what you've kind of focused all your songwriting and all of your musical work on.  Why that as the centerpiece of what you're focused on musically?

Keith: When I turned 30, I really felt that this was such an important thing to do.  Of course, Kristyn and I got married - on June 16th of 2004 - and we spent the next six months really working out what we wanted to do with our future.  And, for a number of reasons - there were personal reasons for us -we felt it was something we could do together.  So many people we'd known in the entertainment industry, it tends to push couples apart. 

But I think the biggest reason of all for us was just this conviction that as we look to the 21st Century church around the world, the two sort of great fundamentals to what we do as a group - a body of people, when we get together as a church - in terms of music, is singing the great truths of Scripture and singing them together as congregations.

So those two principles, we felt, were really being marginalized, at least, in large areas of the church, and there was a great need to teach the great truths and the great doctrines; the great story of redemption and the great passages of Scripture to our generation, because what we sing affects how we think, it affects what we say, and it affects right out to our Christian lives.

Dennis: You know, Colossians 3:16 talks about "let the word of Christ dwell in you richly," and then it talks about “speaking to one another in Psalms" …

Kristyn: There are a lot of things in Psalms, yes.

Dennis: And in hymns and songs, making melody in our heart, and I've experienced it on more than one occasion when my heart is stale - maybe God seems a bit distant - that a great hymn that has words that lift my eyes from the horizontal toward God in the heavenlies and place Him in His rightful place, do change the direction of my soul.

Bob: Really, I like the fact, in all of the songs that you guys have written, there is – it's not just words hung together.  I mean, there's a cohesive thought from verse to verse.  You're carrying through a theme.  You can meditate on what you've written, and it takes you all kinds of different directions.

Keith: I think one of the challenges-- Stuart Townend  and I started writing hymns back in 2001 – was, how do you reinvent hymnody?  Because hymnody was going out of fashion, and part of the reason was the whole musical dynamic has changed in churches, certainly in the Western world, and even outside of the Western world. 

But, also, people didn't want to sing "Immortal, Invisible, God only wise, in light inaccessible, hid from our eyes" - lines and lines and lines of this material. And yet, it was as if, instead of looking at the sunset and looking at their own reflection and going, "Oh, what a wonderful person I feel,” or “How good it makes me feel."  So that ruined the whole point of it.

So one of the things we tried to do was create story out of the songs because, certainly, if you look at analysis of post-modernism, for example, people will sing story all the time, even if they're not wanting objective facts all the time and, of course, it's a principle that Jesus was able to use in His parables, and through story you can bring people in.

So I think, in a way, it helped bridge a modern hymn for contemporary churches -the whole idea of the story - because we wanted to write in a cohesive way.  We wanted to write songs that you can't take the hit lines of the song, jumble them all up, and if they still rhyme, if the rhymes are still there, it still works.  We wanted to write a song that was in a logical order, but we find with the story, people will sing theology and doctrine 'til they're blue in the face if it's tied with this kind of story, and so that was one of the reasons we did that.

Bob:  I think we’re going to have to – because today is Thanksgiving in the United States and because your new CD features Kristyn singing a song about thankfulness called “My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness” – playing it for listeners would be appropriate here as we celebrate Thanksgiving.  This is from the CD Hymns for the Christian Life by Keith and Kristyn Getty.

[Kristyn sings “My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness”]

Bob:  That is a great song and an appropriate song for today.  You know, you think about how a song like that, a theme like that, music like that can realign our hearts.  When it happens with a congregation, when it happens with the church, it’s transformative.

Keith: I think it is extraordinarily important, and I think we only have to look even at pretty much every Christian movement throughout history which has been influential, has been accompanied by singing song, congregational singing, music with it.  So I think it makes a lot of sense, and I think it's a great challenge to the preachers and teachers out there today.

John Wesley took inordinate time to make sure that there was a way that the truth was being sung at every event he did, and really was what paved the way for Charles Wesley, and that's just one tiny example.

Dennis: Speaking of the truth, why don't you all sing "In Christ Alone," because I think there's no better example of what you've talked about right here than that hymn.  That is a hymn that really does move our focus to Him.

[Kristyn sings "In Christ Alone"]

Keith: (whispers) That was really good, Sweetie.

Bob: I have to ask you, you've probably sung that song …

Keith: Twice now?

Kristyn:  More often than my ABCs.

Bob: I mean, it would not be wrong to say you've probably sung it thousands of times. 

Kristyn: Yes, we have.  In fact, actually I did the demo for it whenever Keith and Stuart first wrote it.

Keith: It was originally an Isaac Watts hymn.  You know, Isacc Watts's old hymn, "Give to Our God Immortal Praise?"

Kristyn: (singing)  Give to our God immortal praise. . .

Keith:  . . . immortal praise, mercy and strength, mercy and strength through all His ways; Wonders of grace to God belong …

Kristyn:  You provided the meter for the song.

Keith: Yes, I massaged it.  It wasn't in the meter, it was a different meter.  I use it as a template lyric.

Kristyn: The coat.

Keith:  Right.

Bob: I've heard people call it a "crutch" lyric in order to get a tune around …

Keith: (sings) Repeat His mercy …

Dennis: I've got a question for you, then.  If you've sung it a thousand times, do you have a favorite time that you have sung that song?  In a setting or a moment of -- maybe as a spiritual …

Kristyn: I could tell you more often times whenever I didn't sing it very well (laughs).  I’m just trying to think.  You know, one of the questions we're asked all the time is: “Does it ever become hard to sing it in a fresh or sincere way because you're singing it over and over again?”  The thing is, so many songs in the world, they're recounting an experience that perhaps has passed, and they're constantly trying to relive or put themselves back in that experience. 

The thing that we're singing about here is a living truth, and so it is attached to your life, so when you stand up and sing "In Christ Alone," you reflect on the past week and the mistakes or the great things that have happened.  It connects to that and that's where the freshness comes in, it's that sort of living, personal walk that impacts the sincerity of the message - of the same message - every week.

Bob: Well, I know one of the songs on your new CD that is very meaningful for you, where there is maybe fresh sincerity every time you sing it, is a song called “A Mother’s Prayer” because you have a new little baby girl named Eliza Joy.

Kristyn:  Yes.

Bob:  She is in your family.  As we wrap things up today, I want our listeners to hear you sing that song, “A Mother’s Prayer,” from your new CD which is called Hymns for the Christian Life, which we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center.  If listeners would like to go online at FamilyLifeToday.com, they can order a copy of the new CD from us. 

Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com.  That’s the best way to get in touch with us today if you’re interested in the new CD from Keith and Kristyn Getty called Hymns for the Christian Life, which features this new song from Kristyn Getty called “A Mother’s Prayer.” 

[Kristyn sings “A Mother’s Prayer”]

Bob:  I hope you have a great Thanksgiving Day as you celebrate here in the United States, and I hope you can join us back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

[Kristyn sings “A Mother’s Prayer”]

 

Bob:  FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Help for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

Song: In Christ Alone

Artist: Keith and Kristyn Getty (featuring Allison Krauss)

Album: Hymns for the Christian Life (p) Getty Music 2012

Song: My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness

Artist: Keith and Kristyn Getty

Album: Hymns for the Christian Life (p) Getty Music 2012

Song: A Mother’s Prayer

Artist: Keith and Kristyn Getty (featuring Moya Brennan)

Album: Hymns for the Christian Life (p) Getty Music 2012

Song: In Christ Alone

Artist: Keith and Kristyn Getty

This version was sung in our studio for the original 2007 airing of this program

Words and Music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

(p) Kingsway Thankyou Music 2001

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Copyright © 2012 FamilyLife.  All rights reserved.

www.FamilyLife.com 

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