Keith Getty is best known for co writing In Christ Alone with Stuart Townend. The two have enjoyed a decade long writing partnership penning what have been termed “modern day hymns”. Now Keith and Kristyn Getty are flying from their Nashville home back to the UK for a very special tour.
Travelling to locations including Liverpool, Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Gettys tour will feature special guests including Stuart Townend. As a bonus, all attendees will be able to pick up a five track CD of Keith and Kristyn’s new songs before the album releases in the Autumn.
The Getty's band will feature two bluegrass and two celtic musicians. “We joke that it’s a greengrass band," Keith says.
"The shows are much more high energy than anything we’ve ever done before. After the show the folk players in the band go out into the foyer and do an after-show jam of folk tunes and music which people can stay around for and enjoy.”
"Since we’ve moved to Nashville, we've found other people from other areas of music. So for example friends who play bluegrass or folk music so finding out how that music relates to Celtic music is a fascinating connection."
It’s hard to believe In Christ Alone was penned over 10 years ago. Did Keith have any idea the song would take off and be sung in churches around the world?
“I had no idea. It was one of those unique things that happened and I’m honoured to be a small part of it.”
Keith humbly passes the praise for the song's lyrics to Stuart Townend.
“The lyrics have proved to be phenomenal. My only two contributions to the lyrics were I wanted a hymn that journeyed through Christ’s life and told the whole gospel story. Then I suggested the song should be called In Christ Alone. They were the only contributions I made to the song. Every single turn of phrase came from the genius hand of Stuart Townend.”
The duo have since continued their partnership and Keith tells me they have completed 7 songs in the past 15 months.
Keith explains the progression in the duo’s writing:
“We became known at the start for these big creedal hymns like In Christ Alone, The Power of the Cross and See What a Morning almost in the style of Wesley and Watts hymns teaching people what we believe about subjects.
“Then we widened that to write songs for the church’s year. Songs for Christmas, songs for Pentecost. Songs for church services like Speak O Lord and Communion.”
While many songwriters have a long list of artists they would like to collaborate with, Keith is content with his partnerships with Kristyn and Stuart.
“If I died and hadn’t written with anyone else I wouldn’t be sad or feel there was a hole in my life,” but when pushed Keith does admit that if he was penning a song that wasn’t Christian, he’d want to work on it with Sting.
2012 sees Keith, Kristyn and Stuart write in the same style as before but the lyrics of new collection titled “hymns for the Christian life” focuses on every day living.
Due for release in the Autumn, Keith says the recording will cover a wide range of themes.
“There’s a hymn about the workplace, a hymn about family, a hymn about money, a hymn about social justice and caring for the needy. There’s a hymn which has sprung out of the subject of doubt. There’s a hymn about community. Subjects about the Christians life and subjects that Kristyn and I have encountered over the past few years.”
Anyone who has heard Keith's songs will note the Celtic influences in his music. He hesitates to answer my question about the Celtic tradition and offers a disclaimer that he doesn’t know “that much” about Celtic Christian history.
“If people get cut off from their history they need to cut out Christianity all together.”
“My own particular link with Celtic Christianity isn’t that I studied that particularly aspect but just that I am a Celt.”
“It’s not that I play the Irish game, it’s just how my melodies come out. Stuart Townend always says when I try and write in a style that isn’t Irish it isn’t very convincing!”
Nevertheless, Keith has some strong words for what he describes as the “modern worship movement” saying that it “did a bodge job of cutting us off from the history that we knew.”
“Our parents our grandparents and our great grandparnents sang from hymnbooks that had hundreds and hundreds of years of Christian legacy, of course all different emphasis and different balances in each tradition, but they all had that. The modern worship movement created a situation which moved away from our history. If people get cut off from their history they need to cut out Christianity all together.”
“I’ve often been asked: 'What was your idea behind your hymn?' The truth is I don’t think I’ve had a single good idea since I started but I’ve studied church history and the history of hymnity and I’ve discovered things in church and worship history and I try to recreate them for my generation.”
“The Lord uses all kinds of songs. He uses songs that are written to live for 2 years and he uses songs that are written to live for 200 years. The Lord is the Lord of all. Everything is to his glory and for him and to him and in him.”
Liverpool: 30th May: Philarmonic Hall.
Belfast: 31st May: Waterfront Hall.
Belfast: 1st June: Waterfront Hall. SOLD OUT
Belfast: 2nd June: Waterfront Hall. SOLD OUT
Londonderry: 5th June: Millenium Forum.
Inverness: 6th June: Eden Court Theatre.
Gateshead: 7th June: The Sage.
Aberdeen: 8th June: Music Hall.
Edinburgh: 9th June: Usher Hall.
Glasgow: 10th June: SECC.
May 17th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes