21 September 2017

Keith & Kristyn Getty

In anticipation of the much talked about, forthcoming tour by Keith and Kristyn Getty, the team at Rejoice Always have gone behind the scenes on your behalf to find out more!

KEITH, MAY WE START AT THE BEGINNING WITH YOU SHARING YOUR JOURNEY TO DATE?

I first took up music when I was ten. I studied classical guitar at The Belfast School of Music, flute with the South- Eastern Board, and piano. I basically made music nonstop from the age of ten. I loved to organise concerts, write music, and conduct. After high school I went to university in England and continued the gradual transition into the music industry. I was blessed to grow up around a group of fantastic Christian guys both in church and school in Lisburn, many of whom are now pastors or Christian leaders in their own right.

While I struggled with various intellectual aspects of Christianity during my late teens and early twenties, I feel I grew stronger in my understanding of faith by having to work those things through. Coming out the other end I was more convinced of the foundational truths of Christianity but couldn’t really make a connection between them, the music industry I was a part of, and what was being sung in churches. So in my spare time I began to write hymns to be used on Sunday mornings. I married Kristyn when I was twenty-nine and a half and shortly after my 30th birthday we moved to Switzerland. I quit the music industry to focus exclusively on writing hymns and being a steward of them. We moved to America a year later and just last year were blessed with the birth of Eliza Joy.

DO YOU EVER ENVISAGE RETURNING TO IRELAND TO LIVE AND WORK?

Ireland will always be a part of our lives. The music we write sounds Irish – sadly there are still not many writers of modern music who utilise the richness of our Scotch-Irish folk music which I think is ideal for congregational worship. We also have a wee house up in Portstewart and all our families are back home. As to the long term, I don’t plan too far ahead. We certainly are happy where we are right now.

KEITH YOU ARE CONSIDERED BY MANY TO BE THE GREATEST HYMN WRITER OF OUR GENERATION, WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO WRITE SUCH POWERFUL TRUTHS?

Any hymns I’ve written have only been co-written efforts mainly with Stuart Townend and my wife, Kristyn. I consider myself a student of their skills, especially that of Stuart. I still remember where I was sitting in a church in Belfast when I first heard How Deep the Father’s Love. It was a guidepost for what I wanted to do for church music. The hymns we write tend to prioritise a rich and broad biblical base in a way that sets the congregation up to sing as well as they can.

WHEN COMPOSING, WHICH COMES FIRST, A MELODY OR THE LYRICS?

Different for everyone, however in our case the melody.

DO YOU DIFFERENTIATE A HYMN FROM A WORSHIP SONG? WHAT IS “WORSHIP” TO YOU?

I think worship is a much broader term, perhaps the better term would be “congregational singing” which could be hymn, worship song, psalm – anything. I think what we need in the songs we sing is rich content that is emotionally engaging to sing as a congregation and which we can carry with us through our lives and which is ultimately consistent with our lives.

IS THERE ANY ONE PIECE THAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN THAT IS SPECIAL TO YOU AND WHY?

The most special hymn is always the most recent one. The most recent one we’ve been using in concert is Kyrie Eleison which was written for the Laussane conference in Cape town South Africa in 2010. Although written a year and a half ago we just started using it and I’m excited about it for various reasons – its a call to repentance, a call to recognise the sins of omission (i.e. the things that are blind spots in our lives such as the spiritual and physical need of others) and also its a chance to re-engage congregations in singing in harmony.

WHO ARE YOUR MUSICAL INFLUENCES, WHO INSPIRES YOU AND WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE TO LISTEN TO?

My musical influences change by the week. At the broadest level, my music is a combination of my four deepest musical passions – historic church music, classical music, Irish music, and classic songs (from Gershwin and Porter through to Elton John). Right now I am rediscovering some lesser known Sting albums, some new bluegrass music, and Brahms chamber music.

WE ARE DELIGHTED AT YOU BECOMING PARENTS, HOW IS THIS AFFECTING LIFE FOR BOTH OF YOU?

My wife wrote a song entitled How Suddenly A Baby Cries… I suspect that title will haunt us for the rest of our lives! Kristyn and I had to wait many years before we could have children which was a very uncertain and trying time. We are thankful for the blessing of the joy we have in Eliza. That overrides any other emotions. Personally it exposes your selfishness (especially my own) even more than ever. And professionally we’ve just had to become better at managing what we do. For us, that meant reducing touring to 12 weeks per year, having a dependable nanny who became an integral part of our team, and limiting Kristyn’s involvement in our wider work so she can focus on her primary profession which is being a mother.

ARE THERE ANY BIG PLANS FOR THE FUTURE YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS?

I’ll share two of the things I’m most excited about – one is writing and the other performing. In terms of writing, we are writing a new collection of what we call hymns for the Christian life – subjects that we pray for every morning in our devotional life. Subjects that relate to how we live and make choices every day. So for example – hymns on the needs of others, the calling of a daily working life, words, money, family, and the like. In terms of performing, of course the highlight of this year is coming back to Ireland and getting to play the Waterfront in Belfast, seeing our family and friends, and eating decent fish and chips!