YOUR FAMILY MATTERS with PASTOR CHANDA
WEDNESDAY, June 21, 2017: It was a real surprise when I learned today that last weekend, on the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II of Britain, she knighted Keith Getty, the author of the hymn “In Christ alone”. This hymn has become the most popular hymn in churches today.
Keith Getty was among 221 people who were awarded with the Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). This is given to any of her subjects who has played a major or significant role in arts, sciences, and works of charity for the good of human beings.
“In Christ alone” is the most frequently sang song in churches in the United Kingdom for the 9th year in a row. No other song has reached this record. It was also voted number two best-loved hymn of all time in the United Kingdom in a BBC Songs of Praise survey.
It is estimated that approximately 100 million people around the world sing “In Christ alone” each year.
I first came across it in 2004 and immediately fell in love with the hymn. At that time I did not even know who the author was. No doubt, it is truly a great hymn.
In case you are not a frequent churchgoer and may have missed what is trending there, the hymn’s first and last stanzas are:
“In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.”
A few facts intrigue me about this hymn and its author. To begin with, I learned that Keith Getty primarily composed the tune.
He then gave the tune to a friend, Stuart Townend, whom he asked to write the words for it. He knew that Stuart would give it great words.
Keith puts it this way: “Of all the hymns we have written, this hymn is the most popular wherever we go. Ironically, it is the first hymn we ever penned together. I had a strong very Irish melody that I could imagine a large crowd singing.
“I wanted it to become a hymn that would declare the whole life of Christ and what it meant. Something that could teach people the foundations of what we believed in, that Christ is the God who changed all of history and who wants a relationship with each us.
“Stuart penned a quite incredible lyric, which the two of us edited, developed and rewrote for a couple of weeks until it became ‘In Christ Alone’. As well as being a creedal song, it fires people with hope that here is the God who even death cannot hold.”
So, the incredible words were actually written by Stuart Townend, whose first composition in the world of hymnody was “How deep the Father’s love for us,” which is also a modern favourite. I thank God for these two men who have enriched Christian worship.
Another fact that intrigues me about this hymn and its author is that Keith Getty works on hymns together with this wife, Kristyn.
They now live in Nashville, Tennessee, in the USA. God has blessed them with 3 young daughters, whom they cherish immensely.
This is why I found this award worth reflecting on in my diary this week.
Here is a couple that has profoundly impacted the world by working together. In fact, when accepting this honour, Keith Getty expressed gratitude to his wife for their working partnership.
Keith says he married Kristyn in 2004 and for the last 13 years they have never spent a single night apart.
In fact, they always sing together, with Keith on the piano and Kristyn handling the microphone. No wonder even Her Majesty the Queen of England noticed!
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