Music of the church, beginning with hymns and melodies stretched all the way to, and before, the reformation era in the 1500s with composer and theologian Martin Luther, has shaped and the songwriting culture of a variety of genres including pop and singer-songwriter, according to Keith Getty, modern hymn writer and publisher from Northern Ireland.
“So much of the music today, both in the white church and the black church, was the origins of modern songwriting,” Getty told American Songwriter. But people for many years, singing in church was not commonplace, he noted.
Getty, along with his wife Kristyn and their team through Getty Music Group, have taken the role as the most well-known modern hymn creators. Through tours, events, publishing and training, the Getty’s influence both musically and spiritually on the climate of Christian music culture is unmatched.
But the approach that makes these modern hymns so impactful, is the desire to craft songs directly from Scripture passages, according to Getty.
“I consider myself trying to create a cultural change, trying to create a cultural revolution and I happen to be using songwriting for it, as opposed to a natural songwriter who wants to find something to write about,” Getty said.
Getty said he takes musical style inspiration heavily from classic art forms, but deeply believes Christians need to know their Bible well.
“I really believe that Christians need to have a deeper understanding of the Bible but I also think they need to be much more creative and culturally relevant. That is a huge part of what we’re doing all the time—trying to write songs that really help people get there.”
Knowing the Scriptures is done through studying the Bible directly, and memorization, but also through song, Getty noted.
After his 40th birthday, Getty said he wanted to create a catalogue of modern hymns, accessible to the church and the individual. He found others, many times younger than him, with similar musical and content goals, who motivated him to enter into the publishing space, to create a larger platform for the modern hymns being written by many songwriters.
This transitioned him into a new era of collaboration and growth as a publisher and songwriter.
“Twenty percent of Scripture is actually songs and poetry,” Getty said, explaining further his songwriting process and motivation when collaborating. “In other words, the God of the Bible actually creates us in a way that we need songs, we need poems.”
“Songs connect with the soul,” Getty continued. “They connect with the memory, they connect the family, they connect with the cries of people in such a powerful way compared to anything else that we need these things.”
Getty said his hope, through the hymns he writes and releases, that people will learn the Scriptures, will sing the Scriptures, and will be forever impacted by their truths.
“I want my daughters to sing the Scriptures because they will remember it the rest of their lives,” Getty said. “I want people to sing the Scriptures because if you’re dying of COVID-19, you need something to hold onto. I want people to sing the Scriptures because if you are old and infirm and gradually losing your mind, you’ll probably still remember the hymns you sang all your life, not the hymns you sang for five years, not the hymns that were cool for two years, but the hymns you sang your whole life.”
Getty plans to release two new albums, one of modern hymns and one of lullabies, done by Kristyn Getty, in correlation with the upcoming, now online, SING Conference, August 31 – September 2, 2020.