Deep. Happy. Faithful.
Those are three words that come to mind when I think about Keith and Kristyn Getty.
I remember where I was when I first heard, “In Christ Alone.” This song takes the deepest truths to the deepest places. There’s something about the combination of text and tune that struck me. Keith and Kristyn are students of song writing. They try their hand at hundreds of melodies before committing an album of a dozen songs. Not me. I was just a Christian with a spiritual longing for Christ’s riches. I was also a youth pastor in St. Louis who was curating the best of old and new songs I could find for our youth group. That required some finesse back in 2003, pulling songs from albums recorded by collegiate song writers, such as Indelible Grace, and updating older hymns slightly since we weren’t piano led.
I wouldn’t have put it this way at the time, but we needed some people who were alive to write some new old songs—deep songs that would stand up for generations. We also needed some song writers who would devote their craft for the church’s singing. Americans mostly listen to music and that had become what we were doing in church. The American church also had an unhappy Hatfield-McCoy problem with “traditional” and “contemporary” music, poisoning some against guitars and drums and others against the piano and strings. The beauty of sung truth was getting lost in all that noise.
Then I went to a recital for one of my students at a neighboring church. Two teenage girls sang solos. One young lady sang a sensual rendition of a Top-40 praise song. It was weird but I think that’s just what she knew to do. Then a twelve year old middle schooler approached the stage. She was unassuming and simple. The piano started in and she sang “In Christ alone, my hope is found; He is my light, my strength, my song.” This song was old and new, deep and accessible, solid and sweet. I chased down the authors on the recital order. They were indeed alive. The rest is history. Today at Heritage we sing some twenty-five of songs written by this couple, songs for every part of our service that magnify every facet of Christ’s work.
Keith and Kristyn are happy. How else could they so comfortably barge into our feeds with Family Hymn Sings from their living room during the pandemic each week? By God’s grace, they are also faithful to Christ and to his church. Their goal is not a musical career, or notoriety, or institution building. Their goal is to see the church sing her faith. It’s as if the American church needed a couple from Ireland–a singing people—to come help us sing. Singing is trending again, as it has from creation and as it will in the new creation. Churches have also warmed up on the role of music. As it turns out, when we prioritize the congregation’s voice, questions of genre and instrumentation become more fun and fruitful. There are lots of reasons for this, but one reason is the gift of new songs that work in different settings and which prioritize the congregation’s voice. The Gettys have helped us here.
We welcomed the Gettys to Heritage in 2018. The photo above is from the concert that ended a day of investment in area pastors and even our children.
They’ve got a beautiful new album of old songs and new in an artful mingling of Irish folk and American bluegrass. These songs tell our story and the music tells theirs. It’s called, Confessio. They’re with us tonight as part of their St. Patrick’s Tour for this album. Just like old times, we’ll sing “In Christ Alone.”
Join us in welcoming Keith and Kristyn Getty and their faithful team of musicians to Heritage.
Trent, for the elders