One-on-One with Keith Getty on Congregational Singing in the Global Church

The very act of congregational worship is a symbol of unity

Ed: Where do your ideas come from when you write?

Keith Getty: What a wonderful question. Two things, and both are related to my Irish upbringing. First, my musical childhood was church music, classical music, and whatever influences of Irish “folk” music I imbibed. Second, the young crowd of Presbyterians I grew up with were interested in discussing the Bible and theology and many became pastors. There was a desire in all of us to know Jesus deeply and to help other people know him deeply, and so much of that happens in the songs we sing. When you put these two ingredients in the juicer, out comes modern hymns.

John MacArthur once asked me, “Do you realize what a gift it was to be born Irish? Irish music is the easiest to sing as a group…” I always encourage Irish musicians to embrace our extraordinary musical culture rather than always trying to sound American or British.

Ed: Why are hymns important for society and for the church right now?

Keith:We live in a time when much around us is uncertain, where emotional breakdown and suicide are at record highs, and where family breakdown and confusion have left whole cultures crippled. Even common decency—whether a form of cordial manners to neighbors or the ability to have meaningful discourse on social or political issues with each other in person or online—has all but died. Our political leaders,celebrities, and media are pathetic examples to all of us collectively. In this time, what could be more beautiful than God’s people singing together?

What could be more inviting than the joy of a community singing with joy and love to one another? What could be more radical than song breaking down generational, socioeconomic, and political ideology …

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