Keith and Kristyn Getty
On Hymns for the Christian Life, the extraordinary new album from the Irish singing and songwriting team of Keith and Kristyn Getty, four distinct and seemingly divergent objectives have been seamlessly integrated into a single triumphant expression of both traditional and contemporary worship.
Their initial achievement has been to create a polished, musically sophisticated and immediately accessible collection of songs. Ably assisting in that process is veteran producer Charlie Peacock, whose extensive resume ranges from Amy Grant to Switchfoot to his own extensive solo output. With Peacock’s sure hand at the soundboard, Hymns for the Christian Life is simply one of the best sounding worship releases in recent memory. This resonant, artfully arranged and stylistically cohesive album showcases the Gettys’ gift for Celtic melodies, flavored with American country and folk flourishes. Enhancing that musical mix is a cast of topnotch studio musicians, heard to rollicking effect on the instrumental track “The Village Reel.” Also featured is an array of special guests, ranging from famed Irish vocalist Moya Brennan to Nashville stalwarts’ Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krause (spotlighted on a new rendition of “In Christ Alone,” the Gettys groundbreaking 2007 hymn).
The second notable achievement of Hymns for the Christian Life is in its range of congregationally-friendly worship choruses. “In Christ Alone” has already become a widely popular Sunday morning selection and here the Gettys offer a handful of new originals every bit as uplifting. Among the standouts are the albums opening cut, “Christ Is Risen, Indeed He Is Risen” and “Oh, How Good It Is.” The rousing “Kyrie Eleison” is treated to an exuberant African arrangement and “Holy Spirit,” a Getty concert closer, features the stirring melody of “Gabriel’s Oboe” from the film The Mission. Simply put, Hymns for the Christian Life offers worship leaders seeking to enliven their services with a wealth of fresh, singable material.
The third essential element that has gone into the making Hymns for the Christian Life is best expressed in the Gettys wide ranging approach to hymn writing. In his interview with Worship Leader, Keith Getty summed up his intent for the album to be, in part, a vehicle for presenting hymns about “the stuff of everyday life: money, work, community, doubt, caring for the needs of others and wisdom through suffering.” It’s a goal brilliantly encapsulated on such tracks as “A Mother’s Prayer,” “Before You I Kneel (A Worker’s Prayer)” and “Simple Living,” which uses the parable of the rich young man as a meditation on the true source of wealth and riches.
These “everyday” hymns are part of the Getty’s deep roots in the enduring traditions of sacred music, a fidelity to an ancient legacy reaching back to the Psalms. On Hymns for the Christian Life that focus is expressed in a lyrical density heard on many of these selections. The purpose of hymns as a means of theological instruction is a constant theme on the album, most notably on such standouts as “The Perfect Wisdom of God,” and “My Heart Is Filled With Thankfulness,” which both deliver a message of saving grace with unflinching honesty.
It is this merging of ancient truth with a modern sensibility that is the final and, in many ways, the most significant achievement of Hymns for the Christian Life. The Gettys exceptional balance of old and new is on glorious display in their treatment of the venerable old hymn “Nothing But The Blood,” here treated to a modern arrangement that sacrifices none of its theological resonance by creating a setting sensitively attuned to contemporary ears.
With Hymns for the Christian Life, Keith and Kristyn Getty offer up a new direction in worship music, firmly grounded in the common heritage of all Christians.