Missional Hymns—An Interview with Keith Getty

Keith and Kristen Getty drive hymnody for the missionary work.

Ed Stetzer: Tell us a little bit about how you put together the album in the first place. It’s very diverse.

Keith Getty: It all comes out of the Facing a Task Unfinished hymn, written by Frank Houghton, 1931, in the context of mass persecution in China. He writes this hymn as a call to 200 people to come preach. China, the context, was very anti-Christian, the minimizing of Christian rights, the murdering of Christians and indeed worldwide global recession.

A lot of things actually quite similar to our own times, but serious persecution.

So, he writes this hymn, sends it round as a call to missionary commitment. He gets a response of 204 people to go.

ES: Response to go as missionaries?

KG: That’s right.

He understood—foundationally—that what we sing affects profoundly how we think and how we live. So deep Christian songs, sung by real believers to each other, breeds and helps contribute to breeding deep believers.

ES: A lot of church have gone with simpler choruses, rather than hymns, with streamlined music, simple tunes, and a more concert-driven sort of worship.

Are they wrong?

KG: We have to remember that all of us as individuals are at different stages of growth in our lives and similarly and by extension all of us as churches have different strengths, different weaknesses, and have different stages of growing.

What I’ve noticed about most church movements as they have grown and deepened, so has the songs they sing.

I’m a child of the modern worship movement like you as well. And so we have to understand that we’re all kind of in a stage of growing rather than standing on some self-righteous soap box somewhere. I don’t really see that as being appropriate, or even authentically ...

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