Keith and Kristyn Getty 'Hymns for the Christian Life' Album Review
Prime Cuts: Before You Kneel (A Worker's Prayer), The Perfect Wisdom of Our God, My Heart is filled with Thankfulness
If there is an endearing message that pulsates right through Keith and Kristyn Getty's Hymns for the Christian Life, it is that work cannot be taken out of the church and vice versa. In our compartmentalized world where worship spirals only within the confines of the church's walls, the Gettys have rightly challenged us that the presence of God should never be domesticated. Whether it is in our work, our parental care of our children, our financial dealings, or our involvements with our community, Jesus and His Gospel need to be at the cynosure. If the presence of God is not at the center of our being, then it is nowhere at all. And such a salient truth is conveyed through these 12 hymns, ten of which were never released before with the inclusion of the old favorite "Nothing But the Blood" and a new take of the Gettys' signature tune "In Christ Alone." However, lest the word "hymn" sends tremors of datedness and boringness down our spines, this album is not the average grandmother's hymn book. Rather, there are two defining characteristics to the hymns of the Gettys: first, lyrically they try to avoid the trite and pleonastic repetitions of many modern worship songs. Instead their songs are packed with meaty theological truths unravelled with a palatable perspicuity that even a baby Christian would have no problem grasping. Second, rather than mimicking the monomania of modern secular music where beats and youthfulness take the front seat beautifully crafted melodies that transcend trends and generations are what we find here.
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Ever since the Gettys have made their move from their homeland Ireland to Nashville, Tennessee two years ago, their move has had been more than geographic. Taking with them their Irish heritage, they have also embraced the bluesgrass and country elements of their new community. Since country music has a penchant to address the issues of daily living, it is the perfect vehicle to drive "Before You Kneel (A Worker's Prayer)." "Before You Kneel" is a morning prayer of dedication of each working day to God. Just like the gentle rays of the morning sun, Kristyn's vocals here are warm, refreshing and sparklingly hopeful. Bluegrass/country veteran Ricky Skaggs joins the Gettys vocally on the bluegrassy romper "Simple Living." A re-telling of the rich ruler's encounter with Jesus from Matthew 19, "Simple Living" rivets home the point that the Gospel does not just buy us eternal insurance. Rather, the Gospel has much to say about how we pack our wallets too. Get ready to be awed by the pristine and angelic voice of Kristyn on the affably sublime ballad "My Heart is filled with Thankfulness." The Gettys really hit the nail on the head when they have correctly diagnosed that the answer to all our cynicism, bitterness and impatience is gratitude.
More theological truths are set to great tunes with the lead single "Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed." Told from the perspective of Thomas approaching the empty tomb with doubts and fears before exploding with joy at the meeting of the Risen Savior, this hymn is just as powerful as the message itself. More God glorifying moments come with thoughtful and wisdom seeking ballad "The Perfect Wisdom of Our God." The church gets the spotlight in the jovially upbeat "Oh, How Good It Is." While fellow Irish artist Moya Brennan adds her mellifluous vocals to lullaby-like ballad "A Mother's Prayer." The value of "A Mother's Prayer" lies in this: if you are a parent, how on earth do you pray for your child in ways that are God honoring? "A Mother's Prayer" makes no concession for frivolous requests but goes for what truly every Godly parent ought to pray for his or her child.
If there ever was a sound and satisfying treatise on the triune God sent to music, it has to be album closer "Holy Spirit." A mosaic piece of sorts: besides an astute exposition of the Trinity, this track also packs in St. Patrick's prayer and the classical piece "Gabriel's Oboe." Thanks to the ingenuity of producers Ed Cash (Kari Jobe and Christy Nockels) and Charlie Peacock (Amy Grant and Switchfoot), "Holy Spirit" flows well despite its tangling unrelated pieces. On the whole this is a stellar record; it strikes a perfect balance between its rich theological expositions and its ability to permeate the heart. Standing on the shoulders of the great hymnists of the church such as Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosby and Charles Wesley, over the years the Gettys have had enriched the voice of our praises by their portfolio such as the aforementioned "In Christ Alone," "Speak, O Lord," "O Church Arise" and "The Power of the Cross." And with the release of this new disc, the list will continue to burgeon.
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