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The GreenGrass Session

Joy - An Irish Christmas Album

Keith & Kristyn Getty
Keith and Kristyn Getty occupy a unique space in the world of music today as preeminent modern hymn writers. In re-inventing the traditional hymn form, they have created a distinguished catalogue of songs teaching Christian doctrine and crossing genres by connecting the world of traditional and classical composition with contemporary and globally-accessible melodies.

These modern hymns are rooted in the traditions of Celtic and English hymnody handed down to the Northern Ireland-born couple and long-time writing partner, Stuart Townend. In Christ Alone (penned by Keith and Stuart, and recorded by Keith and Kristyn) echoes this heritage, holding the #1 position of most-frequently-sung in UK churches for the past 8 consecutive years. It was recently voted the #2 best-loved hymn of all time in the UK according to a BBC Songs of Praise national survey and among the top 5 hymns of all time by the UK Hymns Society. Another 50+ hymns from the Getty’s canon are noted in the top 2,000 of that same CCLI list for the UK.

Keith and Kristyn’s move across the Atlantic in 2006 to continue their writing and be "ambassadors" for the genre has been met with continual growth in the adoption of their songs, in the USA and throughout the world. CCLI has estimated that at least 40 million people sing "In Christ Alone" in church services each year— not to mention the global reach of that hymn and the scores of other Getty hymns now deeply rooted in the broader Church's repertoire. In addition to their presence in mainline hymn books and choral repertoires, the songs have been recorded by a breadth of artists including Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Owl City, Newsboys, Mercy Me, Natalie Grant, Passion/Kristian Stanfill, and Heather Headley. They have also been selected for significant international events such as the Enthronement of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the concluding ceremony of the third Lausanne Congress.

The Gettys tour internationally and have developed the recurring North American Hymns for the Christian Life and Irish Christmas tours, visiting venues as diverse as the Ryman Auditorium and Carnegie Hall. They have been guests at other events with performances from Royal Albert Hall to the Pentagon, from the Grand Ole Opry to Franklin Graham Crusades and Homecoming videos, and with television performances this year for PBS and BBC. They have released three studio albums, a Christmas album, and two live albums in addition to a number of print collections.

In 2016 and 2017 Keith and Kristyn will be launching a global release of “Facing a Task Unfinished” song, album, and tour. They are working toward their first church music conference in 2017 to be held in Nashville, as well as releasing their first Children’s Hymns project. Keith and Kristyn look forward to developing more Christmas music for the church alongside the Joy—An Irish Christmas tour.

Keith and Kristyn live between Northern Ireland and Nashville with their daughters, Eliza Joy, Charlotte, and Grace.

Keith & Kristyn on Hymns and Collaborations

The Vision…
"The concept for these songs began two years ago when we took a break from touring and settled in Nashville. We began to connect with a new church family, members of our band, new neighbors and local musicians. Amid conversations with friends and coworkers around our dinner table and on our porch, we found ourselves discussing the challenges of the Christian life. We pondered ideas such as, 'What does it mean to succeed in your job but not make it your god? How do I handle doubt? In what way should I pray for my children? What is our responsibility for the care of others inside and outside our community?' We believe the Gospel story touches every part of life, so these new songs are a reflection of those conversations and us turning to the Gospel for guidance." —Keith

"We hope Hymns for the Christian Life reflects our continuing goal to write modern hymns for the Church. Irrespective of new musical styles and influences, we hope these songs can be lifted out and find a home in churches, both here and around the world. What excites us most about the work we do is seeing a song used by a congregation and hoping it becomes part of the soundtrack that follows a believer through life. As we write, it's also exciting to think about people who come to church who don't yet know the Lord and know what our faith is all about. It's an unbelievable apologetic to not only see Christians singing together, but listening to what they are singing about, in terms of better understanding our faith." —Kristyn

"At its heart, Hymns for the Christian Life is meant to join worship with daily life. For example, 'Before You I Kneel (A Worker's Prayer)' should be hard to sing if we're not seeking to honor the Lord in our working day. We don't work for self-actualization or to find ourselves, we work to honor Christ, and through that we find ourselves in Christ. It should also be a hard album to sing if you're out of fellowship with someone. Community and forgiveness have been enormously hard subjects we've had to work through over the years in our own lives, but it has also brought us enormous freedom." —Keith

Working with Alison Krauss…
"We were obviously incredibly privileged to have Alison sing with us on this project. She first heard 'In Christ Alone' when she was asked to sing it at a friend's funeral several years ago, and this year we were introduced when our paths crossed through mutual friends. The 10th anniversary arrangement of 'In Christ Alone' is a very different type of recording than we've done before. Usually the song is presented big and grand, with a huge build and a key change, but this is done in a much more folky, bluegrass way—a way that uniquely suits her voice on the song." —Kristyn

Working with Ricky Skaggs…
"We first met Ricky when he came to our Nashville Christmas concert last year. In commemoration of his 30th anniversary at the Grand Ole Opry this spring, he asked Kristyn and Alison Krauss to sing 'In Christ Alone' with him as a finale that night. Being able to share the stage with him for such an occasion was an incredible experience.

When we came to make the album, I wondered if Ricky might be willing to be involved. 'Simple Living' was a song Kristyn and I wrote with Stuart Townend last year on the subject of money. We did it in the style of an old-fashioned Irish story song, and it turned out to be a fun piece that tells the Bible story of the rich young man. Ricky has been famous twice in his career for songs with 'Simple' in the title, so that was a nice connection and he agreed to do it with us. It was a wonderful gift." —Keith

Eliza's Joy…
"With each new album there is fresh opportunity to write a solo piece inspired by some of the experiences and challenges we are facing at the time. 'A Mother's Prayer' was a response to the ponderings and the new fears I began to wrestle with when our daughter, Eliza, was born. Knowing the life-changing gift my mum's prayers were (and still are) to me, I have wanted to learn how to do that for my daughter—to pray through the fears; pray through the joys; pray through the seasons of life; pray out loud the priorities we have when we long to impart to our children the greatest treasure in life: to know and love Christ. Moya Brennan, whom I have known for years and who recorded my first song more than a decade ago, so kindly agreed to sing on this track, the first song we have specifically written for Eliza. —Kristyn
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