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Christian Couple Carves Unique Niche in Music

Keith and Kristyn Getty have carved out a unique niche in the world of Christian music - as modern hymn writers. Their song “In Christ Alone,” co-written by Keith, is sung by an estimated 45 million people in churches each year.  And in their new book – Sing! - the Gettys champion a return to robust congregational singing.

SCOTT:  “So music was part of your lives then from the outset. Where did you guys meet?”

SHE: “Well, we're both from Belfast, Northern Island and I was 18, just about to go to college, he was 24 … (HE: “I was a little older.”)  A little older.
And my uncle came to preach at our church and I was singing there that Sunday. … and he said, ‘You know, you should meet this guy called Keith Getty. He's a believer and he's into music, and writes songs, you guys should meet.’ And so he introduced us.”
 
The Gettys married in 2004 and moved to America in 2006. They have three young daughters, and a fourth on the way. One thing that drew them together was a mutual desire to produce Christian music with a different approach – modern hymns.

HE:  “And so, when we first suggested it in the year 2000, it was just blank faces - record labels wanted nothing to do with us. Nobody wanted anything. I think the first thing was the reception of “In Christ Alone.” It came out in 2001. That began to sort of knock the barn door open in terms of – in terms of opportunity and people began to …”

SHE: “And even just giving a worked example of what it was you were trying to do.”

HE:   “Cause when you said modern hymn, people are going "Is that people in robes? Is that – is that a (SHE: “Or Old English or ..”) .. is that a hymn with a chorus? You know, nobody knew what it was. But suddenly you say In Christ Alone - Oh, we get it.”
 
SCOTT: “What is it God said, ‘People come to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’ So how do you get them to a place where worship is meaningful and not just "We're going to sing these by rote?"
HE: “The hymns go into your minds, they go into your memory, they go into your heart, your emotions. They go into your prayers and your words. And that's why what we sing is so crucial.”

HE: “The number of people who've lost their faith, like whose faith has collapsed in a moment because they suddenly be – get told Christianity is simplistic answers to difficult questions – well, if that's the only kind of songs you sing, then your Christianity is simplistic answers to difficult questions – do you know what I mean?”
 
SHE: “Well, I think when songs more fully explain who God is and connect to human experience at every level it actually contributes to making us more authentic as believers. “

HE: “And of course, we know that singing in itself doesn't save anybody –but it does point us, so irresistibly to the One who can. “

SHE: “But if you can find a way of getting a melody that everybody can sing, a lyric that's worth holding on to and really is part of your life, you can carry it with you in a more intentional way, and not just for that year while it's cool, but if you're aiming for a more timeless art, the chances are you could be singing something as a student when you're 21, and singing as a grandmother with your children. “

SCOTT: “One of the foundational aspects of your teaching is singing as a family. Singing together. Well, I know your family would do this, but you have three girls, now four, you're going to have a choir soon!” (LAUGHTER)
SHE: “I'm going – working my way out of a job, or anything.”

HE: “We're about to get four-part harmony here.”

SCOTT: “But what about people who said, "Well, I can't sing. I don't have a voice – (HE: “That's a great question.”) I don't play an instrument. I'm not musical, et cetera, et cetera.”
 
HE: “All of us are created to sing and God has decided that I've got a really -- a below average voice, my wife's got a really above-average voice and that's just – that's just the way it goes. We’ve all been given confessional voices, not all professional voices ….. “

SHE: “I think it’s how you categorize it too, if you see singing as a specialist subject – you’re musical or you’re not. But if you consider it as a spiritual discipline and joyful and wonderful one, akin to prayer for example.  We’re all called to sing.”
 
SCOTT: “There's a role the musicians played in the Old Testament. They went out before the army of the Lord. Is music a weapon of our spiritual warfare?”
 
SHE: “I absolutely think it is. And you know, psychologically, singing affects our brains in fabulous ways. We're designed that music affects us in a way that not all other things do, so that whenever I, wake up the next morning and I'm frustrated at myself I think of: ‘Before the throne of God above, when Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within. Upward I look and see him there, who made an end to all my sin. ‘”

In 2017, Keith was honored as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, which highlights good works of its citizens.

SCOTT: “The Queen of England –(all laugh) recognized you and-and gave you the – what award is that? It's the OBE?(HE: “Yeah, it was – that was” ) You and Paul McCartney and – Mick Jagger. Come on.”

HE: “Britain loves him. I think it was –it was a bit of a surprise. It was the first time they'd given it to a Christian musician. And I – but I think it's because Britain loves hymns. The hymns are very much part of the British –the Church of Ire - the Church of England, the British historic kind of life.
(SHE: “Part of the culture.”)”
 
The Gettys are on their annual Christmas tour, which was turned into a PBS special in 2015. They make the most of sharing the deepest meaning of the holiday.

SHE: “… with Bible readings and carols and punctuating that, so that people would walk away with, ‘Well, what is Christmas? What is the story here?’ We've enjoyed the intentionality of that and the opportunities for evangelism that comes through that, so we're excited.”

HE: And it's a fun night as well, isn't it?   Thousands of Baptists have been turned to dancing. (All laugh) You wouldn’t believe it, you know?”

SCOTT: “It's a miracle.”

HE: “You wouldn’t believe it. Well, what goes on in our Christmas show stays in our Christmas show so (laughs)…”

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