Modern Hymn Writers Revive Lost Art with Surprising Success

Keith and Kristyn Getty are changing the way contemporary churches worship.

Editor's note: This post has been updated.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (RNS) Most songwriters in Nashville want to get their songs on the radio. Keith and Kristyn Getty hope their songs end up in dusty old hymnbooks.

The Gettys, originally from Belfast, Ireland, hope to revive the art of hymn writing at a time when the most popular new church songs are written for rock bands rather than choirs.

They've had surprising success.

Why? Because the Gettys aim to write songs that "every generation can sing," they told CT in a 2008 interview. "What we sing is for people of all ages."

One of the first songs that Keith co-wrote, called "In Christ Alone," has been among the top 20 songs sung in newer churches in the United States for the past five years, according to Christian Copyright Licensing International. It is also a favorite in more traditional venues–including the recent enthronement service for Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Hearing that hymn sung by a boys' choir with a brass ensemble and thousands ...

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