Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hymns for Resurrection Sunday - Keith & Kristyn Getty's In Christ Alone

This afternoon, while riding in the truck I came upon a radio station airing Keith and Kristyn Getty's The Power of the Cross. This is a wonderful contemporary hymn which is included on their album In Christ Alone (2006). Two years ago, my wife and I paid a visit to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary for a Preview conference at which we were introduced to the music of Keith and Kristyn Getty. They had been invited to lead worship during the Friday chapel hour and an evening hour of prayer and worship. Not being fully comfortable with much of the contemporary Christian music scene, we were a bit unsure of what to expect.

To our surprise we were delighted and blessed by the direction (and especially the presentation) of their music ministry. We had a wonderful time at the evening worship hour.

If you are not familiar with the music of the Getty's, I would introduce it to you as a contemporary sound that is intentional and in tune with the Scripture saturated lyrics being sung. On the album, and definitely in person, the sound of the music does not overpower the message in the lyrics, nor does it ever seem to be obviously contradictory.

One thing that bothers me with some contemporary artists (and I'm not a musicologist by any stretch of the imagination) is the blatant disconnect between sound and message. I firmly believe that sounds communicate as much as spoken words. Music style ought to match and promote the content of the message.

In my opinion, the Getty's do a beautiful job of wedding reverent contemporary music sounds with Gospel-saturated lyrics. Preview this album and see if this is not the case. We may differ in taste at various points, but I think you'll hear what I'm referring to. [One exception might be Hear the Call of the Kingdom. I love the lyrics, and the tune is fun, but the tempo didn't work for me.]

Beyond all of the above, this album is an excellent source of music for meditation upon the Resurrected Christ and the believers new life in Him. The title song, In Christ Alone, is already a very popular hymn sung in many churches. I know that we have sung this in at least a half-dozen different churches over the past year. I still remember the "chill" that overcame me as we first sang this third verse:
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
The Power of the Cross is another favorite. The melody is absolutely beautiful; it develops and increases in intensity along with the message in a masterful way. Verse three of this hymn is notable. It speaks of that Resurrection morning with these words:
Now the daylight flees;
Now the ground beneath
Quakes as its Maker bows His head.
Curtain torn in two,
Dead are raised to life;
"Finished!" the vict'ry cry.
Beneath the Cross is a rework of an older hymn and is absolutely wonderful. It follows a soft but steady tempo and is sung in a prayerful tone. It does have a slight bluesy flavor which adds to its meditative quality.

Finally, there are other fine songs on this album, but I wanted to say a word about See What a Morning. Of course, this title is referring to that Resurrection morning. The Getty's capture the immense joy every Christian knows because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This hymn progresses from the disciples' discovery of the empty tomb and the angel's announcement of Christ's resurrection, to Mary's encounter with her Master in the garden, to a Trinitarian doxology. The song concludes victoriously with these words:
And we are raised with Him,
Death is dead, love has won, Christ has conquered;
And we shall reign with Him,
For He lives: Christ is risen from the dead!
1 Corinthians 15:3-5, 57 (ESV)
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
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