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The Getty/ Townend writing Collaboration

What kind of writing collaboration would put well-known British songwriter and worship leader Stuart Townend together with composer/arranger Keith Getty from Northern Ireland?

Writing hymns? Yes, the two have spent much of the last five years channelling their artistic energies and spiritual insights into the creation of a new genre of modern worship music for the church - modern Hymns. Across the vast landscape of worship styles and liturgical traditions, congregations are using songs like "In Christ Alone," "See, What a Morning!" and "The Power of the Cross" to raise their voices in praise to God and to embrace the life-changing, faith-building truths of the Bible.

The most widely used is the very first song that Getty and Townend penned together—"In Christ Alone." Keith had a strong Irish melody in mind, one that he imagined being sung by a large crowd of worshipers. He longed for a text that would boldly declare the believer's faith in Christ. In 2001, the people at Kingsway put him together with Stuart who wrote an incredible lyric that was perfect for the task—clarifying the exclusivity and sufficiency of Christ's saving work on the cross. The two of them edited the hymn for several weeks until it finally became the magnificent creedal affirmation that has inspired countless worshipers with the power of the gospel and the hope we have "in Christ alone." Whether being led by cathedral choirs, modern worship bands, or sung in private devotions, here is a song that inspires the Christian with great hope in a great Saviour. The Incarnate God whom death could not hold now gives us confidence to believe and to follow—"No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me."

 
Since that early success, Keith and Stuart have worked tirelessly to created a new genre of "modern hymn," one that is unique in popularity and usefulness throughout traditional, contemporary and liturgical churches. They have been recorded hundreds of times in diverse styles including choral settings, symphony orchestras, Celtic bands, live worship events, and with Christian artist such as Newsboys, Natalie Grant and Tim Hughes. It has led them to share the hymns and their rationale at universities and seminaries from Harvard to Wheaton, conferences from the National Pastors Conference to Spring Harvest and the Stoneleigh Bible Week, with organisations such as Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Focus on the Family, and regularly on British television. They have also visited many leading churches in the US and shared in numerous radio broadcasts and magazine articles.

 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—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"—a 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.

The most recent expression of their work is a unique recording of twelve hymns based on the core beliefs articulated in the Apostles' Creed. The collection includes established songs such as "In Christ Alone," "See! What a Morning," and "Joy Has Dawned" as well as hymns written in the past year such as "The Power of the Cross," "O Church, Arise," "Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God," and "Merciful God." For this special recording project, Kingsway Records has brought together artists such as Tim Hughes, Brenton Brown, Jennifer Page, Susan Ashton, Kristyn Getty, Derri Daugherty, and Christine Dente.

Keith Getty remarks, "The Apostles' Creed is a collection of hymns which we hope will prove to be an invaluable resource to churches as they search for materials to express in song the truths that they teach from the pulpit."

For recordings, arrangements, orchestrations, and more information about recent projects, including The New Irish Hymns and The Apostles Creed, please visit www.gettymusic.com.
 




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