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Keith & Kristyn Getty: Find Your Voice

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 13, 2022 10:00 pm

Keith & Kristyn Getty: Find Your Voice

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 13, 2022 10:00 pm

Could hymns be an easy button to drive lifelong theology into your family? Songwriters Keith & Kristyn Getty share how to sink truth into kids through music.

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Witness Keith & Kristyn Getty's new song, Be Thou My Vision.

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Every kid is going to have songs. So your kid is going to take it from Taylor Swift. She's going to take it from Frozen. She's going to take it from Katy Perry. They're going to take it from somewhere because they're made to sing. So we need to be giving them better songs to sing as well. Let's not miss this opportunity we have in our children's childhood.

Whether we create a 50 hymn playlist on our Spotify that we keep and we just build it over the years, but let's find the songs that we want them to grow old with. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson. And I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. So I've got a song lyric. I'm going to sing it real quick. I will not know it.

Yes, you will. You just tell me if you can tell me the title of this song. I know you've heard it many times in church. It goes like this. In Christ alone, my hope is found.

He is my life, my strength, my song. Yes, I've heard that many times. What's the name of the song? I don't know. Come on! I don't know! The first three words!

In Christ alone, that's it. I thought you would get that so easily. Now I look bad on the program. I could have gone for the middle lyric without the title in it, but I thought, oh, you can't miss this. Anyway.

You set me up to fail. Yeah, well, you know the song. I do. It's a beautiful song.

Beautiful. We've done it. I've played bass on it many times in our church. But do you know who wrote it? Yes, our guest that we have on today wrote it.

Well, he was part of a team. We have Keith Getty and his wife Kristen today with us, but he was part of a team with Stuart Townsend who wrote it. But Keith and Kristen are prolific songwriters, and we've sung a lot of their lyrics over the years. And we are so excited to talk to them about worship in the family, worship in the home. It's going to be a great day.

So Keith and Kristen, welcome to Family Life Today. I know it's been a while since you've been on, but welcome back. Thank you for having us.

Always a privilege. Well, fill in our listeners on what God has called you to do and be, because you have had an incredible impact on the kingdom of God in all decades of your life, but especially recently. So tell us really what God's called you to do with your lives. We started writing hymns in the year 2000, the genuine belief that today as parents, it's easy to get nervous about all the things that are going on around us, of all the responsibilities of bringing up children in a context that is actually different to every previous generation. Every generation can claim that, of course, but the previous generation, but the shifts against Christianity are so huge.

It is a daunting process for anyone listening. But the fact of the matter is if we take a bit of a wider panel, not even sociologically, we do live in the most exciting generation in history to be Christians. There have been more conversions to the Christian faith in the last century than any in history.

The Bible will be in every language for the first time in history and dialect in the next 10 years. And because of modern communication, we have a chance of starting a song on a Tuesday, finishing it on a Wednesday, demoing it on a Thursday, and knowing that it is being sung in every continent of the world by the Sunday. That is the world that we live in. It is a whole new opportunity.

And so if that's true about the opportunity, so the threats are equally there for all of us. And so one of the things we became convinced early on was that if we want to be authentic Christian believers who not only survive but thrive, we need to be deep believers. We need to be deep in the Word.

And as we looked at the Old Testament and the New Testament and the church fathers throughout history, we looked at the Reformers, the revivalists, the people who brought Christianity to America, the people who brought Christianity to the world through the worldwide missionary movement. Part of that depth is the songs that we sing. And our generation's got a slightly different view of singing.

It tends to be more of an emotional release than part of how we learn our faith. And so we felt there needs to be, for the 21st century, a new generation of hymns that help build deep believers, deep families, deep churches. And so we started In the Providence of God, the first song that came out of the blocks was In Christ Alone. And that gave us a real launching pad to what we're doing. And then over the past 20 years, Christian and I and the wider team that we're privileged to work with have continued to write songs and record them and introduce them to both the churches in English speaking language and beyond.

And then through events like Sing Conference and our tours and other partnerships like what we've had with Family Life today, been able to share those songs. Well, we can hear an accent. Give us a little history of where you're from and even your family, how many kids you have. Keith and I are both from Belfast, Northern Ireland. That's where we met, where we got married. And then after spending the first year of our marriage in Switzerland, we moved to America. And around that time we met Bob Lupien, actually. That changed our lives. Us too.

It changes everybody's life. Before Bob and after Bob. Yeah, that's it.

Maybe. One of our longest friends and a great encourager through every little season of our life, particularly in stateside. And we lived in Ohio for the first few years. A very close friendship and connection with Alistair Begg and Parkside Church, which brought us there initially. That was BB, that was before Bob. That was before Bob. Alistair introduced us to Bob and we decided at the end of that trip, so technically moving, meaning Alistair was BB.

I guess Alistair was sort of John the Baptist, huh? He led you to Bob. Before we moved on to Switzerland, we were singing at a local church in Northern Ireland.

They were opening a brand new building and we sang a couple of songs that night and Alistair Begg happened to be speaking that evening. And that's when our paths sort of officially crossed and our friendship began. And over the next year, we kept bumping into him and different things that come across to Ohio, we'll be your family here.

And he was a great champion of the hymns in the early days. And we're meant to be there for a couple of years. We stayed four and a half. And then around the time really wanting to have a family wasn't quite happening.

We knew that we wanted to travel less. And so it seemed like a good moment in time to shift to Nashville, where if we weren't traveling as much, we would have a good community of creatives there that could speak into what we're doing and new writers and new musicians to work with if we weren't on the road as much. And the day after we moved to Nashville, we found that we were pregnant with our first daughter, Eliza.

And then subsequently, we've had three more daughters. So you see before you two parents of four daughters. So they're not close by right now. So it's relatively peaceful when they are close.

But it's not. It's crazy that we are so grateful to have them. And we now have been in Nashville ever since.

And we generally spend about nine, ten months here and then two to three months in Ireland each year, particularly the summer months we go home so the kids can be with their grandparents. And with them songwriting and a lot to do with music, you can move about in wonderful ways. And we've enjoyed that with the girls. Well, you write such beautiful songs. I remember, I don't know what year you would know, but I was playing bass in our weekend service on In Christ Alone. And I'd heard it. I learned it.

We're in rehearsal. And I remember having this thought. How have I missed this hymn?

How did I miss this? It was so well written and sounded such like a hymn from decades ago, or actually centuries ago, I started to think it was a hymn that would have been buried. But it wasn't. It was current. People are often shocked to know that Kate's alive. Yeah, I mean, that's sort of what my thought was. It's like, how did I miss this?

Sometimes my wife is surprised that I'm alive. But how did you write it? I mean, as you wrote it and much of your music has that feel that is so beautiful. It's current, yet it's tapping into something in our history. First of all, that song was co-written with Stuart Townend.

He deserves, you know, hugely significant plaudits for that. I've always thought of myself as the apprentice and him as the sorcerer and that. But at the same time, I think all of us are creative beings. And the things that are put into us in life ultimately come out.

And so what that means in the spiritual sphere, like what we're putting into our girls now, ultimately is going to affect them in their lives similarly in art. So I was an Irish kid. I grew up studying classical music. I grew up in a home where my parents were church musicians. And so you think about Irish and traditional church music and him singing and you think about classical music. And then I was Presbyterian, so we learned to think theologically.

And so those four things, I guess if you put those in the juicer and press on, the other end comes up music. I think there's a philosophical belief that great art of more timeless quality is aspirational. From a pastoral point of view, I'm doing more for my kids or the people in my congregation if I give them a hymn that has been around for a long time or a hymn that will be around for a long time, because, pastorally, it will continue to work in their lives. And so I think all of us as parents have to be thinking, what are the hymns that we can teach our kids or have playing on in the background in the house that actually will go so deep into them that they have them for 50 years? That there are songs to grow with, that there are songs to travel with, that there are songs for the hard times and there are songs to die to, because it is such an important, vital part of our faith. And if we simply treat Christianity as something that we read and listen to sermons, and then the music's just an emotional expression, then we're missing a whole vital aspect of what the Bible considers important.

20% of the Bibles is poetry and songs, so the Bible obviously considers it important. It's so interesting, I was at a conference with Elizabeth Elliott, who, she's this amazing matriarch of our, a lot of us, like we've read her, we know her, her husband died as a missionary. But we got into this debate about hymns versus more just worship, music, as you're saying, that tends to be more emotional. And it was a huge debate, and Elizabeth was strong. She's very vocal, and she was saying, this music today, if it's not these, these hymns have this deep theological base, but this music they're singing now, it has, it's fluff. And so, you know, that created this great dialogue and controversy. And Dave and I didn't grow up in the church, and so we weren't around hymns. We didn't understand them. Educate us a little bit. What is the difference?

You've shared it a little bit, but go into it a little bit more. I don't think there's a scientific definition of what it is and what it's not, and it actually can be quite subjective. There's some people that think that there's no such thing as a hymn that has been written this century. They go back so far, and others have just different views.

So I guess, as Keith mentioned, it's more a philosophy and an approach than it is a clear definition. And I think sort of our three goals had been sort of theological depth, biblical richness, and then songs that had melodies that congregations could sing, and not just one particular group of people, but across generations particularly. If you take a hymn like Great Is Thy Faithfulness or Amazing Grace that clearly work through an idea of what grace is or what God's faithfulness is, and then it's married then to a melody that lots of people can sing.

And they can sing it with a big band and orchestra, or many of these hymns can be sung without any musical accompaniment at all, which is the experience for a lot of, if not most, congregations around the world today, particularly in the developing world. And the third thing is trying to go after an artistic integrity, something that's not just singable but is beautiful, something that people want to sing and want to hold onto and can be markers for people's lives, and as Keith said, hymns that they can carry through life. And so those have been the principles, the approach that we have taken when it's come to try to write these songs, and when it's come to advocating or championing some of the hymns of old, which we have done as well. So that's sort of how we have gone, and so it's not so much going after what sounds good today, what is the sound of the moment, or even in sort of a contemporary Christian radio, what is the thing that is working at this moment, but it's just sort of seeing that longer approach.

What are the songs that feed the church over a long period of time? So it's a lofty goal, and we of course don't always meet it, but that's what we're heading for, that's what we're aiming for. And how do you, I know a lot of our listeners are parents, and they're wrestling with, how do I bring worship into my family, into my home? How do you coach us on doing that?

How do you guys do it? Well, one of the things is to see singing as being the call of every believer, every part of the family, every generation is to sing. So rather than considering it a special subject to one side, that if you're good at it, or you enjoy it, or any of those reasons, that that's not actually the heart of it, that the scriptures command us to sing, and we are created to sing. And so as parents, we want to try and put singing where we teach them to pray, we teach them to read the scriptures, that we teach them to sing. That's part of what it means to be the body of Christ.

Our kids have various different abilities in it, different interests in it, but we sort of take the approach there as this is what we do. If we follow the Lord and we, as this family, this is part of our life that we sing together. And so we have found that when it comes to Sunday, wonderful that our local church, the beginning of the service, the whole family is in, so our girls are with us, not the tiny ones, but the other three. They stand beside us and we sing together as a family as a person.

We love that. But throughout the week, I think of Sunday as the feast of singing as the church, that throughout the week, we develop the appetite for it. And one simple thing we introduced a few years ago was a hymn of the month, a family hymn of the month, and we just highlighted one and we would sing it. I have a little chalkboard just outside the kitchen and we will learn it as the month goes on and use it to inspire questions from our kids and explain what words mean and have them singing these things before they go to sleep. It's not something we do perfectly, not something we do every single night.

For example, last night I was not feeling well, so we didn't sing last night. But there are many nights, more nights than not, that we reach in those things to help grow our kids and their understanding of the faith and connect them to the church as a whole and give them, songs are a wonderful way to remember things more than some other ways that we do that, more than maybe a sermon on how we remember. And our kids, as they go to school, are learning their alphabet, they're learning the states, they're learning how to spell the word January, which was this year, and they learn it to music.

And so I think just to harness what it is and to use it as a teaching tool, but also to help grow their appreciation and appetite for it. So that on Sunday morning when they look over at me and Great Is Thy Faithfulness is playing, they say, oh, we know this one, and they're singing with us, and that really expects it. I know one of your quotes, and it's so good, is what we sing becomes the grammar of what we believe.

Help us understand how that works. As Kristen has already said, singing is so important to God. It's the second most common command in Scripture. It is 20% of Scripture itself is songs. So singing is profoundly important to God. It is not something which is there for the emotional people or the people who went to piano lessons when they're young.

It is for everyone. And so when we sing something, we remember it. Kristen actually, when our girls first started to go out on vacation or we'd go on the road, Kristen taught them this kind of little sing-rap kind of thing on her telephone number so that all our girls knew their mom's telephone number.

Rather than memorize it, they had to sing it. And so when we're thinking about being futuristic for the next generation and helping our children be relevant and strong in modern culture, the first place we need to go is not where the most cool music is that is really cool right now because really cool music right now is actually 2025's really uncool music, do you know what I mean? But what we do need to know is what we always say to people, whether you're a traditional church, charismatic church, contemporary, whatever you want to call yourself, it really doesn't matter. The core for us as parents is let's make sure, and it might take a period of time, let's make sure we have 50 hymns that when our kids leave our home, they know backwards and they know why they sing them and they know them because by them, you will have given them 50 songs that they sing deeply into their heart.

With a wide breadth of theme. And they know about God. They know about the scriptures. They know about his promises. What the gospel is. And in some ways, it almost goes back to the Shema, how the people had to write. And when they said they would write these truths in their heart, of course, writing a letter took a day for them to do because you go deep when you do something creative with words.

And it's hard. We've got Gracie's got football. Eliza's starting lacrosse this week. Eliza's piano teacher's tonight. Charlotte's tomorrow night's violin. We may have to move it to Zoom because of timetabling. Eliza could test on Friday.

Charlotte's big test is next week. They've always got so many different things in a day. And all of these things are good things. All of these things are a chance for us to rehearse and show the love of Jesus to them. But so much more direct is those 10 minutes that when my wife actually just plays a hymn twice in bed at night beside them. And they sing it through. And we do the exact same hymn every day for a whole month. And by the end of the month, they know the hymn. It's not fancy. It's not like some kind of course.

You have to pay $179 a month to get the three years. Just take your iPhone upstairs. Lord knows those things do enough damage to Christian family. Let's use it for the positive as well. And I sometimes play the guitar, but not so much recently. We started a little resource last year, actually, where we put together that family hymn of the month. I wrote a little devotional around it. And it's called skedimusic.com forward slash hymn of the month.

And the lyrics are there and a track to play and a devotional and the story behind the song and a prayer and a memory verse and just a little more expanded the idea a little bit just over a year ago for families that might want to do it with us. Have you ever had your kids say, Mom, Dad, no, we don't want to sing today, tonight. Have they ever pushed back? Yeah, but they do that about sometimes going to church, about going to school, about brushing their teeth, about stopping with sugar. Eating their vegetables. Eating their vegetables, about being nice with their sister. I feel parenting is just one long referee match, you know.

So I think you're into it a lot. And actually Bob La Payne was great about this. He talked about teenager kids.

He once said a lot of people came and we were yet to be there. But one of the things that he found when parents came and teenage kids, they're thinking this or they're doing that. And he said very often it's just stepping back a little. You know, keep on parenting because that's what you have to do. But a lot of things work themselves out and we can't just react the first time. And so when our kids, they don't want to sing, we're like, OK, well, we'll try something else or we'll just do it anyway. And the next day they're different.

It's another sister that doesn't want to because of another reason. But they don't want to learn violin every day and they don't want to pick up trash from the floor. So part of it is just this is what we do and some days are better than others. But over the trajectory of a lot of years while we have them, we're just going to keep plodding away. I recently heard a dad talking about the family devotional that he would do with his kids and he said all they would do, and they would take, as you said, even just 10 minutes, they would read scripture, they would sing a song, and they would pray.

It would take 10 minutes. And he said, you know, with his kids, a lot of times they were groaning, sometimes they would complain. And he had one daughter, she never, ever said, thanks, dad, or this was amazing, never. But at her high school graduation, the kids that were graduating were supposed to say something or give a thanks to their parents. And what she said was, dad, thank you for doing a family devotion. And she started crying so hard because she said, that is what's changed my life.

And it's so funny because the dad said, I had no idea, but I thought that was so fascinating because sometimes we don't know because kids aren't going to, hey, thanks, that was amazing tonight. They could, but generally speaking, they're kind of doing their own thing and I like what you're saying. Like, just do it because it's marking them. And to say that, you know, obviously you constantly find different ways, you know, like when we had one of our daughters find it hard to concentrate and never, ever, she was much younger. Someone had suggested, well, why don't you sit closer to her and rub her back or something just to keep her engaged with you, finding different ways and always learning. And then there are just the days when you're like, you know what, tonight, I'm going to pray and we're all going to go to sleep.

The best thing we can do for our family right now is just to shut the thing down. Being pragmatic, you know, and not being so straight-jacketed and everything, finding those good rhythms as you can. But with little kids, it's not perfect. And then as they get older, it's different again. And I think part of our urgency right now is from our understanding is those little years, particularly up until they're about 10 or 11, are just gold. And so we continue, our kids are pretty receptive, but we know and we can get a little taste of it that it's not always going to be that way. So part of it is like, what can we do? Well, let's get these songs, let's read a little, let's just do the things you can while they're there and you have their ear.

You're building a foundation. I want to go back to something you said earlier about emotion, because I think there's a power and an emotion in worship singing. You know, it almost sounded like sometimes when you sing a hymn, it's not as emotional as a praise chorus. And yet I can remember, you know, when I started at church 30-some years ago up in Detroit, my co-founder, he said, some of my greatest memories were standing in church beside my dad and turning to him as we were singing How Great Is Thy Faithfulness or even Amazing Grace and watching him weep. And I know I've wept at Amazing Grace at times. You know, as simple as that song is, I've wept. And I'll never forget when my youngest son came home from a Christian conference and introduced me to a current worship song that had impacted his life. And it was the simple song by Chris Tomlin, How Great Is Our God. And I'll never forget, it was just a simple chorus. How great is our God.

I started to weep. You know, as I sang this lyric, and again, it was just a simple lyric, but it reminded me in that moment how great he is, how majestic, how holy. So I'd love to hear your thoughts, because you live in this world, the power and even the emotion of worship singing.

Here's the thing. God made us to love songs. Many of our friends here, biblical scholars, would say, you know, God sung the world into being.

I don't know what the Hebrew or Aramaic words were. And indeed, the promise of the new creation is of God's people forever and ever singing to him. We are made as singing people.

Now, that's okay. What does that actually mean for 6 to 30 in my house in the evening when I'm having that nightmare hour with my kids? And it's actually very significant, because what it's saying is we're made to sing. Every kid is going to have songs. So your kid is going to take it from Taylor Swift. She's going to take it from Frozen. She's going to take it from Katy Perry. They're going to take it from somewhere, because they're made to sing.

So I'm not for a minute kind of suggesting that we ban that. We love all music to be in our house, and Kristen has discussed all the Frozen lyrics with our girls. We've discussed, and our girls actually laugh at them, because we go, we love the tune, but this is not Christian.

So they've not been able to work out, okay? They've been able to smell, because you taught them the principles. They can smell something that isn't Christian, but they can still enjoy the music of it. But the point is, we need to be giving them better songs to sing as well. And that's the challenge to our generation, is let's not miss this opportunity we have in our children's childhood, whether we create a 50-hymn playlist on our Spotify that we keep, and we just build it over the years.

But let's start today. Whether you take Kristen's model of a hymn each month, or whether it's just songs that are passively in the background, let's find the songs that we want them to grow old with. Kristen did a beautiful new version of Be Them, My Vision. It's on YouTube. It's very special to us, because it's videoed on the North Antrim coast, where we're from in Ireland, and her brother, who's a very famous movie director, came and directed it for her. But I remember watching the proof of it.

I had to get up early one morning, because the guys needed to get it up, and I had to okay it, so I watched it. And then I drove my girls to school that day, and I thought about Be Them, My Vision, O Lord of My Heart, and the idea that we want each one of them to say that one day. I thought about taking them to school, and all the knowledge that's being fired at them by education, by the internet, by iPads, by all the different places they go. And I thought, I want these girls to say, Be Thy, My Wisdom, and Thy, My True Word.

I thought about the day they will leave us, and we'll go to college, or we'll go out at weekends, and they'll not be wanting to hang with us. And I want them to sing, Be Them, My Breastplate, and Sword for the Fight. I want them to remember these words in Temptation. I thought about their lives when they go beyond that, if God blesses them with life, some will have success, some might have less success, some might have no success, some might have amazing success, some might have disappointment. But we want them all to say, Rich as I heat not, nor man's empty praise.

And then all of them for sure will one day have bad health and die. And so we want them to sing, High King of Heaven, after victory won, may I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's sun. I think that's why Kristen started this children's hymnal, and why the hymn of the month is such a vital thing, just that each of us will think, what are the hymns that we're putting in our kids' minds, in their emotions, in their hearts, in their memory banks, in their psyche, in their subconscious?

That will continue to flow out of them as life's tapestry. That was David Ann Wilson talking with Keith and Kristen Getty on family life today. You'll find the links in our show notes to their performances of Be Thou My Vision and their new recording with Michael W. Smith called Christ Our Hope in Life and Death. Again, links are in the show notes or at familylifetoday.com. And if you know of anyone who could benefit from today's conversation, we'd love it if you'd share this podcast wherever you happen to get your podcasts. And while you're there, it'd really help us out if you'd rate and review us. Family Life Today is a listener-supported ministry, and this week, with your donation of any amount, we'd love to send you a copy of the children's book, God Made Me in His Image by Justin and Lindsay Holcomb.

We had them on earlier this week. This is a great resource for parents helping children through issues of body image and the beauty of God's design. It's our gift to you when you make a one-time or a recurring donation at familylifetoday.com or when you pick up the phone and call us at 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word Today. Can you imagine your family singing songs of praise together at home?

If that sounds weird, well, maybe it is, but maybe that's a good thing. Keith and Kristen Getty will join Dave and Ann Wilson again tomorrow to talk about singing together as a family. We hope you can join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-01 14:00:36 / 2023-05-01 14:14:01 / 13

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