The Wisdom of Writing High Quality New Hymns

Fundamentally Reformed summarizes:

Stuart Townend and Keith Getty have taken the approach of writing modern hymns. With the writing of “In Christ Alone” in 2001, they began a movement for writing modern hymns. Since then they have written, either conjointly or independently, many of these modern hymns and in effect created a new genre of worship music. Keith Getty’s website explains:

Keith Getty is a modern hymn writer. His hymns such as “In Christ Alone”, co-written with Stuart Townend, have created a new genre of ‘modern hymn’ unique today in popularity throughout traditional, contemporary and liturgical churches. In these new hymns they aim to both teach people the big picture of the bible and create a form of contemporary worship which relates to both the past and the future….

This article on Getty’s website gives a brief history and description of Getty and Townend’s work. Let me quote a few paragraphs by way of explaining the philosophy and vision behind the work of these men, who have given us such great modern hymns as “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us“, “O, Church Arise“, “Beautiful Savior“, and “The Power of the Cross“.

With an endless stream of new worship songs being written, recorded, and sung these days, what is the particular contribution of these new Townend/Getty creations? Keith Getty explains that the hymns provide a worship genre in which the texts are both wide and deep. By this he means that they tell the big story of the Bible’s covering many biblical and liturgical themes and do so at a depth of understanding that draws richly on the full counsel of God as revealed in Scripture. The church sings the faith in a way that not only voices praise and adoration to God, but also feeds the flock with the truth of Scripture.

Stuart Townend contends that current worship practices have tended to focus so heavily on subjective experience and personal feelings, that the proclamation of objective, life-changing truths about God and our position in Christ is often ignored. These hymns have been crafted in such a way as to redress that imbalance and provide corporate worship music that faithfully proclaims the great truths about God, the stories of the Bible, the seriousness of sin, and the beauty of the gospel of grace.

Another important goal is to find and refine a poetic and musical style that can unite people of diverse traditions and generations. Getty and Townend have chosen an aesthetic voice that draws on influences of both folk and classical music as well as contemporary songwriting and standard hymnody. The composers are producing hymns that speak the heart language of modern worshipers in a style that is singable and, to some degree,  timeless musical vocabulary that avoids the fickle lure of the ever-changing popular sounds of the entertainment industry. Such an experience of sung worship unites people in a comfortable vernacular rather than dividing them out of frustration. [Read the whole article.]

In an interesting article from the Calvin Institute for Christian Worship quotes Getty in regard to his overriding goals for his music, and his sources of inspiration.

“We try to write theological and Bible truth that speaks in everyday life, as Charles Wesley did. And I try to write melodies that large groups of people can sing. That is my filter: Can all ages sing this melody?”

From a lyrical point of view, we use Bible terms in a poetic way to give the lyrics class and artistic credibility. But we write in language we would speak, that you can imagine saying.”

Getty’s always searching for new melodic ideas. He rarely finds inspiration in Christian contemporary music because it’s mostly copies of the last five or ten years.

Instead he looks for melodies that transcend every generation and have been recorded in many genres, such as folk tunes.

Most of our best hymns are based on folk melodies and tend to be equally accessible to rock and pop bands as well as to organs and choirs and orchestra arrangements.”

On a side note, you may be interested to know that Keith Getty is quite conservative theologically. He is currently based in America and attends Allistair Begg’s church in Cleveland area. And recently, Bob Kauflin wrote that Getty has rejected numerous requests to change this line from the very popular hymn “In Christ Alone”: “And on the cross as Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied”.

Read the entire Fundamentally Reformed article here:

About savedbygrace1976

Mark Chanski (author of Manly Dominion; Womanly Dominion; and Encouragement: Adrenaline for the Soul) has labored as a full-time Pastor since 1986 in churches in Ohio and Michigan. He has been Pastor of Harbor Church in Holland, Michigan, since 1994. He has also been elected as Coordinator of the Reformed Baptist Network. He holds a Bachelor's degree from Cornerstone University, and a Master of Divinity degree from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He teaches Hermeneutics for the Reformed Baptist Seminary in Sacramento, CA. Mark is married to his wife Dianne, and has fathered their four sons and one daughter, whose ages stretch from 36 to 26 (born 1983 to 1994).
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s