This transcript is taken from a Stand in the Gap Today originally aired on 1/26/24. To listen to the program, please click HERE.
Isaac Crockett: Hello. I’m Isaac Crockett, and joining me today is my co-host, the Honorable Sam Rohrer, the President of the American Pastors Network. And we are really excited today to be welcoming back hymn writer, musician, and someone who I think is one of the leading theologians really of our days because of his abilities and hymn writing and music, and that is Keith Getty. So welcome to Stand In The Gap, Keith. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your schedule to be with us today.
Keith Getty: Thank you. It’s a privilege. Thank you.
Isaac Crockett: Well, Keith, there’s so many things we’d like to talk about, we’re glad to have you on again, but I just want to jump right into it. There was recently a new rendition of In Christ Alone. We’ve talked about that on our program with you before. That song has meant a lot to me in our family singing it. Even when our children were being born, we had that music going in the hospital room when my dad was dying, going to be with the Lord. That was one of the hymns that we sang with him as he went to heaven. And a lot of in between things have happened with that. And so this hymn has really been a blessing all over the world. And you actually went on a tour all over the world and you were in Sydney, Australia at the Opera House there, the iconic Opera House, praising the Lord and singing this song. Could you just tell us a little bit about what that was like to be in that iconic location singing praises to the Lord?
Keith Getty: Gosh. Well, it was a wonderful privilege for many reasons, not least, as you’ve already said, it’s just an extraordinary place and a privilege. One never thought in one’s lifetime I would get to do that. The second thing was it was the final night of our world tour. Obviously, we toured in America last year and then we took it to Europe, then we went to Asia and then finished in Australia. So it was the closing night of the world tour. So to finish the closing night of the world tour in Sydney Opera House, singing In Christ Alone with City of Light was just a delight. And we decided to release the recording partly because it was such a special moment, but partly also because City of Light really represents the next generation of people.
The song is in its 23rd year. Can you believe that the song is in its 23rd year? And so we thought, what a great way to help launch it a little bit to the next generation who perhaps aren’t as familiar. I think many of them are, but some aren’t. But also it represents a new season for us with the song. Over the next three years, as it approaches its 25th anniversary, we’re really trying to establish great translations in the major seven languages and releasing seven versions of it so that people can get each of the major versions of the song and with good translations. Most versions around the world right now in the Wild West is the internet. Just copy the version that somebody with a loud T-shirt did on their YouTube. And, of course, with hymns, poetry is so much more important and so much more difficult.
Secondly, there’s all the theological truth and the importance of being correct. And thirdly, there’s actually just certain doctrines like substitutionary atonement in that song that are just completely left out of most translations. So our team led by Matt Merker in this area really decided, let’s get great translations of the songs and go from there.
Sam Rohrer: Keith, that’s great. You said you were on four continents and, again, that’s taxing. That had to have been a difficult, I am sure, but a rewarding venture. But just a quickie, did you find any significant difference in the response of people one continent to another? That’s number one. And then follow up with this, you’re talking about the content of the verses, the importance of the message of this particular song. What is it in your mind when you’re singing that song and you are delivering as you’re doing, what message is it that you are praying actually is communicated to those who are there listening?
Keith Getty: Yes, two completely different questions, but I’ll go at them one at a time. In terms of continence, I think it’s been said before, of course, I’m not the first person to say this, but the two most unique things on a world tour, as you learn how different everywhere is, and then you’re surprised by the differences and enthralled by them, but then you’re also surprised by the commonalities. That’s a privilege. So each of the continent, we didn’t just play somewhere salubrious like Sydney Opera House, but we also did a training day. We also did training days for church leaders in Sydney and Singapore and Belfast. And then we also, through our foundation scholarship, 40 people who we feel are trying to lead the voice of the next generation and worship around the world who really couldn’t afford to go otherwise.
And so it was just really wonderful. When we were in Europe, the needs of a church that is dying, so we had people who were choral church music directors in France and Romania who were really working in the choral tradition. We had people who were involved in Indonesia translating into a specific dialect that doesn’t have any hymns. We had people in the Nepalese Mountains who are creating a hymnal, which basically helps bring the basic doctrines of the Christian faith to the people who they serve. We’ve other people trying to rethink what it means to be a singing people in Jordan when most churches meet in secret. So it was just extraordinary. Some of it was mind-blowing, some of it was very humbling, but we got to meet some leaders. We got to meet Deputy Prime Ministers of countries. We also got to be with people who in worldly terms had nothing but the joy of praising the Lord was something that was similar for them all.
I will never forget it. We started writing hymns in the year 2000. We always talk about a 2050 goal. We don’t know if the Lord will spare us to get to see that through, but to see what is happening around the world and the need in the next generation to help build deep believers with great hymns. Old hymns, new hymns, and locally written hymns in all the major languages is absolutely crucial. And if we don’t do this in the next generation, so many people who come to Christ will grow up with shallow songs, which leads to shallow prayer life, shallow understanding, and there’s a great danger that we will lose many people and lose a huge opportunity. This generation we have now really, as once in a generation affords, with more Christians in the world today than at any point in human history. And so it’s an exciting time to be alive.
Isaac Crockett: Amen. It is so exciting, and that’s why what you’re doing is so important with theology. It’s not just that you’re coming up with catchy tunes that people like to listen to or even that you’re putting it into ways that we can sing congregationally and as families and as individuals, which are all important, but the theology that you’re tying to it. It’s really a form of prayer, of worship and even catechism in a lot of ways. It really binds us together in those foundations. In Ephesians, when Paul says in chapter five that we just be addressing each other, speaking to each other in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in our hearts to the Lord, that really I think is describing what you do with hymns. And when I look at some of the great hymn writers of the past, John Newton or Isaac Watts or the Wesley Brothers, they were great hymn writers because of their great theology.
That’s what’s so important. I love how you bring it back to the word and back to the doctrines that impact our lives because what we are here for as Christians is to be part of God’s kingdom. And so that’s what we want to talk about. We’re going to take our first break here in a moment, but when we come back, we want to talk, and we’re just so thankful that you’re giving us this time, so we’re bombarding you with as many questions as we can squeeze in here to pick your brain. Because we always enjoy not just hearing your music, but hearing the doctrine and the history and the man behind all that music. We’re just so thankful for what God has done in you and through your influence on many of these newer hymn writers and musicians as well as preserving the old.
So don’t go away. I think you’re going to love this conversation we’re having with Keith Getty. When we come back, we want to talk about what it looks like and the importance of singing Godly music and using the hymns that God has given us for the glory of the Lord.
Sam Rohrer: Welcome back to the program. I’m Isaac Crockett with Sam Rohrer, and we’re talking to our return guest, Keith Getty. And we were mentioning a little bit of what you had going on with your world tour and how the Lord has used the ministry and the hymns and the theology of that all over the world now. And it’s just so exciting to see the Lord working in that. But for us individually as families, we know it’s important as congregations to sing hymns. And maybe you could speak a little bit to that, but why is it important that families and individuals also have good hymns, good songs of the faith that they can sing and pass on to their children?
Keith Getty: Well, it’s a wonderful question. It’s interesting that singing is one of the most common commands in all of scripture. So if one puts that in the parlance of, say, being a father or a teacher, and I tell my girls something once it’s important, but if I tell them it 20 times, it’s very important. It’s very clear from scripture, if we believe that scripture is God’s word, that it is very important to God. So yes, we sing things as congregationally, but congregations are not hugely important. And if you are a worship leader or a pastor listening, let’s make sure when we think about the music in our churches that when we say music, we primarily mean the sound of the congregation singing and how everybody, musician, guitarist, worship leader, sound person, whoever you are, are all serving the congregation’s voice and that the sound of your church’s music is the sound of God’s people singing and everything else is secondary.
But stepping back from that, of course, we’re reminded right back in Deuteronomy and the Shema, aren’t we, that we teach these truths to our children, we write them on our hearts. And there really is no better way to write truths on their hearts. I was yesterday at my daughter’s parent-teachers interview and they went through how they’re learning the states of America and they’re learning the Presidents of America, and they’ve got a little song where they learn all the Presidents of America. And, of course, not being from here, I wasn’t taught to learn them all when I was young. So this song has helped me learn them too. And there really is no other way. There is no way that it’s more important to the Lord and there’s no way that is easier for us to learn things and teach them to our children and by singing them and to sing as a family and to sing to one another and to remind each other of these truths.
And then, of course, the other thing I remember is we sing these things to ourselves, because if we sing these things to ourselves, they help us understand the truths about God and they also help us understand the realities of our own souls. The more we sing the Gospel, the more the Lord and Christ become more beautiful to us. The more we sing the Gospel, the more we realize our deep, deep need, because prone to wander, Lord, we feel it prone to leave the God I love. I’m only out of bed seven hours today and I know that already. But thirdly, how beautiful the Gospel is. People ask me what churches as we’ve traveled around sing best, and my two answers I usually have are, the churches where the pastor loves to hear his congregation sing and he is constantly committed to that.
And secondly, the churches. Within that, the families who sing in the car on the way to church or who sing during the week because if kids are singing growing up, singing in the car, singing in their home, singing the songs of the Lord, you don’t need to cajole them or persuade them to sing in church. They just love to do it and they’d love to do it most of all because we do. So there you are, individuals, families, churches.
Sam Rohrer: Keith, that is fantastic. One of the prior times that you were with us, I think I asked you this question, but I’d like you to answer it again, and Isaac mentioned it earlier, we’re admonished to sing songs and hymns and spiritual songs. Now there’s three different things. Could you just, for the sake of our listeners, briefly identify the differences or the contrast, compare songs, spiritual hymns and songs? What’s the difference?
Keith Getty: Well, Sam, I think the short answer to that question is, no, I couldn’t because I know a dozen different people who’ve written, in fact, half of the guys I actually know personally who have written commentaries in this book, and none of them agree with each other on exactly what these things are. But I think there are two or three things we can be sure about. One is, Sam, hymns and spiritual songs means there isn’t one musical style that is dominant. As much as I think Charles Wesley was the greatest hymn writer, as much as I’d love you all to sing my hymns, what this reminds us is there are lots of different ways to sing to the Lord and no style is a priority, but secondly that singing the psalms and singing the words of scripture is compulsory. That nobody can argue with from that passage.
And why are the Psalms so important? Well, they are the theater of God’s glory, because, you see, every thing about the Lord is extraordinary. One minute we’re looking at him as a judge. One of them we’re looking at him as a God of wrath. One minute we’re looking at him as omnipotent or omniscient or omnipresent and the next minute he’s leading us like a shepherd. He knows us. Like a friend, he longs to hear our praise and he is longing to forgive when we repent. And so we get to see that. But, secondly, we get to reveal the frailty of our own humanity in a very soulful way. So the singing the Psalms is hugely important. If you’re a pastor today, I would encourage you, how much of your service is built around Psalms? How many of your songs are built around the Psalms? How many of your prayers are built around the Psalms? How many readings are you doing of the Psalms during your services?
And then, in addition to that, look at how we understand God’s glory in the Psalms and how vast it is, how different it is. I get lots of people wanting me to say, is this song sound or is it not? And that’s an okay question. It’s not a bad question. We should care if it’s something sound. What I think is much more dangerous for the church in the West right now is actually we just sing about a God who’s very small, a God who really fits in. If you take something like knowing God, the book which lists all the characteristics, or you take somebody who analyzes the Psalms, maybe about 10% to 20% of the characteristics of God are mentioned in our worship songs. So it’s a God who is much smaller than the God of the Psalms and the God of the Bible. So let’s try and make sure we sing the breadth and the depth of our understanding of God.
Isaac Crockett: Amen. What you’re saying, I see that just in listening to the radio. In our family cars, we travel quite a bit. We love to listen to hymns and we have a lot of Getty music, and the kids enjoy the old hymns as well as the new hymns. We have the Getty’s Hymnal for Kids because our kids, not only do they enjoy singing in the car, but we sing in front of the congregation. We sing as the congregation. I love it when I can hear my children. We’re in a small church plant right now and I can hear my kids in there and I can hear their voices as my father-in-law oftentimes is singing out leading the songs, oftentimes. My wife playing the piano, the kids sometimes on their instruments, but I can hear their voices with the rest of the congregations. It’s so exciting.
But they do love some of the newer hymns. I know when Confessio came out from you all, they love the one, Pass The Promise, which is so important for passing on to the next generation. And the parts where there’s a little shouting where the one with the Irish words in there, the wee little woman named Anna, [inaudible 00:15:46] years old or whatever, they take that and they cling to some of those things. But you’ve come out recently with a list I think of about seven newer hymns like you’re talking about, are good, strong, solid songs, but they’re newer. What are some of those hymns? I don’t know if we have time to get into all of them.
Keith Getty: They were all released in the last 18 months, thank you for asking, All by different members of our writing team. As you know, Getty Music is now 14 writers who all write hymns and many of the songs that you guys in the program love best, like His Mercy Is More or He Will Hold Me Fast or Come Behold the Wondrous Mystery, or I Am Not My Own, Kristyn and I didn’t write those songs. The publishers are part of our team and these wonderful guys are writing them. So I can just run through the seven real quick, if you want.
Isaac Crockett: That’d be great.
Keith Getty: We started with two songs for opening a service. One of the biggest challenges for serious Bible churches is to find songs that are calls to worship that maybe are energetic or upbeat, but also have lots of contents. We did one called Rejoice, which is based on that passage in Philippians Four, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice.” It’s just singing the Bible, but it’s a really great wonderful opening song. It also looks at the subject of identity in this time we live in, we will praise the Lord and, looks at the subject of anxiety. When I wrote the song, it was 75 years from W.H. Auden wrote his play The Age of Anxiety, Leonard Bernstein set the music, and that was 1947 after World War Two when parents and grandparents and individuals were having to understand, we now live in a post-nuclear age where a press of a button could obliterate the world, and anxiety rose drastically.
Most philosophers today think anxiety of teenage girls is probably three to four times what that was. So just think about that for a minute. Between social media, between materialism, between gender dysphoria, what that is doing to crush and destroy the girls in our lives. So let’s sing the scriptures. That’s how we’re going to respond to that. The other one is called All My Boast Is In Jesus, and it was basically Matt Boswell. That first one was Brian Fowler and Ben Shive and Skye Peterson wrote with Kristyn and I. The second one, All My Boast Is In Jesus, was really Matt Boswell and Matt Papa taking the great studies of Paul in the New Testament in Boasting in the Cross and putting them all together into a song. It was the most popular song at the Sing Conference this year. So if you’re looking for opening songs, Rejoice and All My Boast are certainly the best two.
The next song is called I Am Not My Own, which Skye Peterson wrote with Ben Shive. And I Am Not My Own is really looking at identity. It’s a simple song. It’s almost like a nursery rhyme. Our five-year-old kid can sing it by memory. It’s a great song to sing at nighttime to your kids before they go to sleep. It’s a great song to sing them to remind them that they are fearfully and wonderfully made. I get concerned sometimes that some Christians are so concerned to make sure we mention [inaudible 00:18:41] that we’ll constantly be talking about ourselves as a worm. And I guess there’s some biblical mandate for that, but it’s not a complete picture because the Psalms are much more clear about reminding us and our children that we’re created in God’s image, that we’re fearfully and wonderfully made in his image, that we are people of beauty, of meaning, of dignity. And so that song is a really helpful song just against crazy stuff.
Isaac Crockett: Keith, we’re up against the break here. When we come back, I want to hear the rest of those songs that you were mentioning. We’re going to come back to the top of the show here after this break and talk with Keith, hear the rest of these songs. So you don’t want to go away. You don’t want to leave the program right now halfway through because you want to hear the rest of these songs. And then we also want to talk about Sing 2024, this conference coming right up. We’ll be right back on Stand In The Gap Today.
Isaac Crockett: Welcome back to the program if you’re just tuning in halfway through the program, we are in the middle of talking with Keith Getty about music and about hymns and theology and the Bible and biblical worldview, all these things coming together. And Keith, you were giving us seven really good hymns that are newer hymns that are out there that are helpful for individuals, families, and congregations. The first two, Rejoice and All My Boast Is In Jesus. Those are good for really calling to worship a congregation. And then you mentioned I Am Not My Own, and just a really good song for anybody, congregation or individual family. Could you pick up from there and continue with that list of seven hymns that you were telling us about?
Keith Getty: I Am Not My Own is my kid’s favorite song, by the way. The next one’s my favorite song, which is called The Lord Almighty Reigns, and it’s about heaven. We need so desperately to sing about heaven as we take on the dangers of AI and gender dysphoria and just sexual promiscuity and it’s the chaos at all causes in our society. John Lennox, my wife’s uncle, I said, “What do we do?” And he says, “Help people understand their identity, like songs today, and help them sing about heaven because that’s our hope.” And this is my favorite song we’ve written in the last three years, the Lord Almighty Reigns. Kristyn did a beautiful recording with Blessing Offer. Again, all of these are available on Spotify. You can go to the Seven Vital Hymns, which we’ve just made available. All the music is available for free all month for people just to help give churches some stuff to do.
The fifth song is called I Set My Hope in Jesus, and its subtitle is Hymn For A Deconstructing Friend. And it was a song that Boswell and Papa, I wrote with them, and it was really helping people who are working through difficulties in their faith. So many people we know are struggling to believe core Christian doctrine, even to believe in God at all. And so this song was a new way to help them walk through that, to express things, but also to walk through it and set their hope in Jesus. Number six, it’s a song called Come To Jesus by Jordan Kauflin, Laura Story, Matt Merker. And it’s a wonderful song for communion or for an altar call if you’re a Baptist church and you like a response song after a service. And the final song is Our God Will Go Before Us. Matt Boswell finishes his prayer time, his sermon, and his service every week by saying, “Our God will go before us.” We set it to music. It’s a wonderful way, as I say, to finish our prayers, to finish our sermon, and to finish our service each Sunday.
Sam Rohrer: Keith, you just really laid those things out so well. I agree with you and I think our viewers and listeners do as well. I mean, if we serve a truly great God, then let’s let our songs lift up a truly great and awesome God. Looking ahead, our identity in Him, all the things that you said, these are things our culture, our people are struggling with, but they can be addressed in good, good songs that you’ve mentioned. Fantastic what you just said. Let’s shift gears here for a little bit because I want to ask you about this. You have this year’s Sing Conference, people watching, again, listening would recognize that possibly, the Sing Songs of the Bible. And you’re going to be putting all that together. Share if you would briefly, when, where, and if people can register or get more information, tell them how to do that please, because this is quite an event.
Keith Getty: Yeah, so Sing Songs of the Bible is back at the Opryland Hotel and the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville the first week in September, the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday after Labor Day. And it really is looking at how we sing the Bible where, first of all, it’s a unique opportunity this year to invite pastors and pastoral teams. We’ve got Alistair Begg back and Truth for Life doing a pre-conference event for pastors. We’ve marked [inaudible 00:23:11] Duncan and the T4G guys. This is the first year they’re not meeting, so they’re coming to do a thing for pastors. Gospel Coalition are going to be there doing stuff for pastors. And then John Lennox on the last. The first day is about the Old Testament, the second day is the New Testament, and then the third day is looking at the Bible in the modern world.
And we got John Lennox for that leading a team of thinkers and artists looking at how they express the Bible in the modern world. So it is very exciting. Andrew Peterson will be doing his 25th anniversary performance of Behold the Lamb of God. One Late Night There’s A Messiah, there’s a number of late night performances, but by our guide and stories behind the song sessions, which are always my favorite sessions that we do at the conference. We’ve got also a wonderful opportunity. Our partner’s Voice of the Martyrs. It’s 10 years since ISIS first did their damage and destroyed the churches. And so we felt at the Sing Conference, let’s not ignore these things, but let’s not sit back and be pathetic. So actually let’s do a fundraising campaign as part of it.
And what we’re hoping to do is do a special opportunity to help build four churches in cities where ISIS destroyed churches. We’re going to build, raise money to build four churches, put in Bibles in their languages, and we’re going to create hymnals in their languages so that they will sing the Bible even there. So the conference, of course, it’s in the West. It’ll be put into 11 languages all around the world, but we’re going to hopefully as well build four churches with Bibles and little hymnals made for them to sing the Bible in those places as well.
Isaac Crockett: That is fantastic. That is just so awesome to see God’s people coming together that way. And so many times we think, oh, a music conference. Well, this is so much more than that. And it’s so neat. The Voice of the Martyrs’ testimonies last year were just so touching. We’ve had some of those same folks on our program too, and just so powerful. You’ve already answered some of this just in talking about theology and the hymns, but if somebody is wondering, well, why is this a music conference but you have pastors and theologians and all this teaching and preaching going into it? Why have you been so strategic about filling it foundationally with theology and really theologians coming in for the Sing Conference?
Keith Getty: Because worship is not primarily about high end singing or me closing my eyes or putting my hands in the air or being talented at the guitar. Worship is primarily about God. We don’t make people laugh by having them analyze their laughs. We tell them something funny. And so what we want to do is reveal to people the greatness of God and learn that, but also to remind our friends who are pastors that it is not good enough for a pastor to be teaching the Bible and then singing stupid songs at the start of a service because he thinks it might encourage young families to come. That’s pathetic. That’s bad pastoral ministry. That’s not loving your congregation. So we want to remind both sides of the importance of singing and studying the Bible.
Sam Rohrer: Keith, you mentioned something there, and I think we did for sure talk about this last time you were with us and you went right to the heart of it. Singing, I don’t know if you used the word silly songs or whatever, but to try and attract young people, why should there be a careful consideration between the songs and the Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs that highlight a great God, our identity in him versus those things which may lean towards entertainment as an example to try and attract people? Why is it so important to distinguish that? Because it takes a little wisdom I think for some people sometimes to make a distinction.
Keith Getty: We have to be very careful about broad categories of things. So let’s go back to the Bible verse you quoted in the first section when you said the Psalms and hymns [inaudible 00:26:56] the word of Christ dwell in us richly. So are the songs we sing have in the word of Christ dwell in us richly and deeply? And secondly, let’s look at the Bible’s model, look at the Psalms, look at the depth of those Psalms. Yes, there are short Psalms, but the average number of words in a Psalm is still vastly longer than the average number of words in a modern [inaudible 00:27:20]. But we need to be deep believers as well. So it’s commanded, it’s also modeled, but, again, we have to as congregations, what I’m saying, if you are responsible for a family or a church, you need to stand up and be responsible.
There are too many fathers who are not caring with what their kids are singing. And let me tell you, I took my kids to school this morning and we listened to a Taylor Swift song. We like lots of music. There’s nothing wrong with listening to different kinds of music, but Taylor Swift and Disney do not know the Lord. And if I let them control what my children think and sing all the time, then I’m losing a large part of my children’s willpower, their imaginations and their soul and spirit. Fathers have got to stand up and lead their families. Mothers have got to stand up and lead their families. And similarly, at the same level, the next level pastors have to care. When I first came to America and my friend Alistair Begg and I trotted how to get these songs out, he went to so many pastors that came to us and said, “We desperately need our worship leaders to sing deeper songs.”
Honestly, today, the sad thing is I get more worship leaders coming to me who are serious Bible guys saying, “My pastor is forcing me to sing silly songs because he thinks it’s going to get more people into our church and improve our offering at the end of the year.” So a huge challenge to pastors to be faithful, to honor the Lord, and to understand that the word of Christ should dwell in us richly and be obedient to that.
Isaac Crockett: Well, that brings up a lot of questions, but we’ll save those for the next segment because I really want to follow up on what you just said. But real quickly, we have about a minute here. Your team was mentioning that you are working on a hymnal, a sing hymnal. Do you want to say anything about that or is it too soon to mention that?
Keith Getty: Absolutely. Miss Kris and I are off the road for nine months for the first time in our 20 years of marriage, except for, of course, COVID when we had to stay home. But it’s our first time and it is just because this is so crucial. Our partners are wonderful. It’s Crossway here at the ESV Bible. And this is I think one of the biggest things I’ve ever been involved in. And we talk to them all the time. We are arm-in-arm with this whole project just trying to write and edit and find the great hymns that will help build deep believers in the world. So it’s really exciting. It’ll be out in the middle of next year, and I hope you can use it not just as something that old-fashioned churches put under a chair, but as something that you have a copy beside your bed so that some nights when you can’t sleep or you just want to begin a day, you can look up these beautiful hymns and hopefully they will help fill your minds with the goodness of the Lord.
Isaac Crockett: Amen. I spend so much time in my time of devotions in the hymnals. Some of them are old hymnals that I don’t really even know the music to some of the hymns anymore. And so I’m very excited about that. Also, being in hymnal form, it makes it easy for the worship leaders to have a congregational version of these things. And I’m also excited about the translations that are going on for songs like In Christ Alone that are just so important for the missional aspect of what is going on. Well, we’re not done yet. We have one more segment. Keith is willing to stay around. We have more questions to try to fit in, so please don’t go away. We’re going to be right back on Stand In The Gap. And I want to talk to him about, as a father, how we pass on these hymns and these theologies of music to the next generation. We’ll be right back on Stand In The Gap Today.
Isaac Crockett: Welcome back to the program. We’re talking with Keith Getty and want to give time to wrap everything up here. But Keith, we want to ask you about generational singing. You mentioned something that I find very interesting as a father of children very similar in age to yours, and that’s listening to lots of different music. I do a lot of travel with our family business and some with the ministry here and with church. The kids tag along with me a lot of times in my work truck and I like to have the radio going. And sometimes we’re just listening to different things, maybe country music or something, and listening and talking about the lyrics that come up. Disney music, our kids love. All my kids play multiple instruments and they love to play different songs and different styles and genres, but the Disney music really grabs their attention, especially my daughter, my middle school aged daughter.
And, again, listening to those songs, but talking about those lyrics with them and looking at the worldview that comes through that. But then we spend hours singing songs, a lot of them written by you and some of the friends you were just mentioning, hours singing older hymns. I remember growing up, my dad was not a musician, but we would several times a week sit around in the living room and just sing songs and then read some Psalms and pray. That was so powerful. And so for those listening, could you talk, as a father, what you see in your family when you use songs to sing as a family? And maybe even tips for grandparents or parents who are out there listening saying, “I want to do that. How do I get started doing that?”
Keith Getty: Sure. I mean, gosh, you could probably do this better than I could. All I can do is show you what we do. Our family, you work out what works with your personalities and what works best for your family. So, for example, I, like you, we are not the kind of people who say we ban stuff. Well, occasionally we do. If something is just too offensive for our children, I think we’ll turn it off. But, for the most part, I mean, Disney and Taylor Swift are as un-Christian as some of the other stuff are, but they’re good songs. And all the kids, they’re going to hit the songs at school anyway. So if they’re playing the song, they can enjoy most of it. They can enjoy, as you said, the beautiful songs. I mean, even as an orchestrator, it’s interesting. Disney insured, Walt Disney insisted that I think teachings happen every 66 seconds so that kids wouldn’t lose their attention.
He actually had it down to a science. He was brilliant and probably the greatest song publisher in history. A lot of his songs are classics. Interestingly, Sony had just brought up the biggest songs in the world last year, and they own the Beatles catalog and Michael Jackson’s catalog and Taylor Swift’s catalog, and the biggest song in the world was Somewhere Over Their Rainbow, even though in its 85th year. So those classic songs, Disney have the classic songs, that’s not their song, but so many songs like that are sticking around and they’re usually celebrations of love and goodness and happiness and people. But they’re not Christian. And so I want our girls to understand the good bits of it, but I also want them to understand why we as Christians are different.
In the same way as they meet one of their neighbors who’s a generous person, I want them to love that neighbor and appreciate their generosity and learn from them. But I want them understand that generosity isn’t enough for us for the forgiveness of sin. Do you know what I mean? So we approach that and, like yourself, exactly like you, we let the songs go if they’re not too bad. And then we talk it through so that they will be processing it in school the same way. We want them to process it the same way when we’re not around. Secondly, we are real simple. We will usually sing a song on the way to school and then we sing a song last thing at night. And yes, we miss the boat and, yes, it’s constantly about getting back on the horse. None of us, I bet no one listening to your radio program has got a perfect quiet time, so how much more should you not expect that you’ve got a perfect quiet time with your family? Do you know what I mean?
And so we have to be easy on ourselves a little bit. Sorry, that’s the wrong word. We have to be patient with ourselves and know that so much of this is getting back on the horse and keeping going. Two or three quick things. Number one, the number one thing kids love is the things that we love. So if we love to sing to the Lord, if we sing passionately in church, if church is the highlight of our week, then our kids will copy. If actually supporting the Kansas City Chiefs against the Baltimore Ravens is going to be more exciting for you, your kids will notice that. And no matter what you tell your kids about theology, underneath it all, they’re not going to believe you because they see you. So number one, we have to love singing to the Lord.
Number two is try, and either in the morning or in the evening or both, try and do it as often and simply as possible. Number three, make Sunday special. Build up the church. Our church sends the hymns in advance. So we pray the hymn on the way to church. Church, our girls know, is the highlight of the week. We have a special meal afterwards every Sunday. iPads are off. Home works are off. And then Sunday evening, our old church used to do an evening service, which we loved. Our new church doesn’t do an evening service, so what we do is we took that opportunity to create our own family evening service. So our main worship service as a family is Sunday evenings, and that is just the most precious time. We have it up in the room and it’s nice and warm and we all huddle together. And that is very special.
That’s what we’ve been doing. That’s what we’ve been learning. It’s been years of work. No shortage of disagreements between husband and wife sometimes as to how to do it. But both of us are absolutely committed to it. We train our children in the way they will go, and that will not depart from them. We can only hope and pray the Lord will keep them, and it’s a wonderful privilege.
Isaac Crockett: Amen. And I look back at my wife and a lot of people I know who are in ministry and music was a big part of their life growing up. Their parents saw that, and it’s so fantastic. I’ll also say, during some of the COVID lockdowns and things, we watched a lot of your family on YouTube and some of your family sing-alongs and things. That was extremely helpful and encouraging.
Keith Getty: People find that helpful because of the sheer levels of disobedience of our kids and the fact that Gracie didn’t know the words of verse two of In Christ Alone, and things like that. People just find that hilarious and I think it was more our missteps inspired people than our pro steps.
Isaac Crockett: It was great. It shows what you’re doing as a family. It was real and I know our family really enjoyed it, as did many. Sam, we’re running out of time. I want to give you time to close in prayer today, Sam. But you’re a grandfather, so Keith and I are parents, and this is what we’ve been doing. But you’ve seen this happen with your six children, and now I think you’re up to 14 grandchildren. And I have been in services where I see you singing and some of your children involved in leading the worship and some of your grandchildren involved in it and seeing all generations together. I’d just love to get your input on this before you take time to close our program in prayer.
Sam Rohrer: Isaac, I don’t have a whole lot of time, but I’ll agree with you, Keith, mom and dad set the pattern in the home, and if they have a demonstrated love for the Lord, it will be evidenced and it will be seen and the children and the grandchildren will tend to follow. So that is, first of all. In our home, Isaac, again, we had six children, we have 17 grandchildren now, five sons and a daughter. Our daughters-in-law all lead in music. They sing. They have wonderful voices. They all know the Lord. Some of the sons, my sons, some play violin, some play cello. We taught all of our children how to play music and the piano to give them an appreciation for all of these things.
And so some of that, what you encourage, is also what you get, but to key at the end of the day, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Whether that’s the way you walk, the way you talk, what you say, how you interact with your neighbor, and certainly it is how and what we sing. So I’m just going to leave it there because times [inaudible 00:39:11]. Heavenly Father, thank you so much for this program today. Thank you that Keith could be with us and the great leadership that is provided in the area of music. We commit all that he’s doing and all we’ve talked about today to you. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Isaac Crockett: Amen. Amen. Thank you, Sam. Keith Getty, thank you so much for what you’re doing and for just talking to us today. Thank you for being on this program. And every one of you who’s listening, thank you for listening. I pray that your heart has been blessed and that you can go away from here with steps to be closer to the Lord and take a Stand In The Gap for the Lord today.