Keith Getty

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Keith Getty
Keith Getty speaksCroppedWK.jpg
Keith Getty, 2008
BornJulian Keith Getty
(1974-12-16) 16 December 1974 (age 43)
Lisburn, Northern Ireland, UK
ResidencePortstewart, Northern Ireland, UK
Nashville, Tennessee, US
Other namesKeith Getty
  • Singer
  • Songwriter
  • Record producer
  • Composer
  • Businessman
Years active1995–present
Kristyn Getty (m. 2004)
Parent(s)John and Helen Getty
Musical career
InstrumentsVocals, Piano
LabelsGetty Music
Associated actsStuart Townend, Ricky Skaggs, Kristyn Getty

Julian Keith Getty OBE (born 16 December 1974) is a Northern Irish composer, best known for pioneering "modern hymns". Many of his songs are co-written with his wife, Kristyn Getty, and veteran British, English songwriter and worship leader Stuart Townend. In re-inventing the traditional hymn form, Getty has created a distinguished catalog of songs teaching Christian doctrine and crossing genres by connecting the world of traditional and classical composition with contemporary and globally-accessible melodies. The repertoire of Getty hymns includes "In Christ Alone," "The Power of the Cross," "Christ Is Risen, He Is Risen Indeed," "By Faith," and others. Getty’s hymns top CCLI rankings, national "most-loved" and "most-sung" lists, and are estimated to be sung by 100 million people in churches around the world each year.[1] In addition to their presence in mainline hymn books and choral repertoires, the songs have been recorded by a breadth of artists including Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, Owl City, Newsboys, MercyMe, Natalie Grant, Passion/Kristian Stanfill, Heather Headley, Jim Brickman, Máire Brennan, and the Canterbury Cathedral Choir.[2] Getty has appeared with his wife Kristyn on national television (CBS, PBS, BBC), most notably on Public Television in 2015 with their Christmas Music special, Joy—An Irish Christmas.[3] He has appeared at numerous prestigious events, and tours internationally with the recurring Hymns for the Christian Life and Irish Christmas tours. Getty has performed at venues as diverse as London’s Royal Albert Hall, Ryman Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.[4]

Early life[edit]

Getty was born in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, to Helen Getty (née Irwin) and John Getty. He is the eldest of four children.

Getty began making music at age 11, learning to play the classical guitar; at 12 years old he began playing the flute. During school, Getty was influenced by classical music, Irish music, and church music of all kinds. As a young adult, he studied Music at Durham University, graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in 1995. As a student, Getty completed special conducting opportunities at the Canford Summer School of Music and the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts. Getty participated in a summer master class under Irish flautist Sir James Galway.[5]


1990–2001: Work as orchestrator[edit]

Getty has now orchestrated or produced music for more than 200 projects—recordings, concerts, theatre, television, and film.[5] Diverse credits include orchestrations for Michael W. Smith's 2004 Healing Rain album, McDonald's television commercials, and Silvascreen label movie soundtrack recordings Music from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Once upon a Time: The Essential Ennio Morricone. He has orchestrated for Sir Cliff Richard and other gospel artists including Natalie Grant and Watermark. He wrote and produced the music for the 1998 C. S. Lewis International Centenary Celebrations. Getty has worked (with his wife, Kristyn Getty) with the African Children's Choir including two recording and touring projects Still Walking in the Light and Devotion.[6]

2001–Present: Modern hymns[edit]

Keith and Kristyn Getty occupy a unique space in the world of music today as preeminent modern hymn writers. In reinventing the traditional hymn form, they have created a catalog of songs teaching Christian doctrine and crossing genres by connecting the world of traditional and classical composition with contemporary and globally-accessible melodies. These modern hymns are rooted in the traditions of Celtic and English hymnody handed down to the Northern Ireland born couple and long-time writing partner, Stuart Townend. "In Christ Alone" (penned by Getty and Townend, and recorded by Mr. Getty and Ms. Getty) echoes this heritage, holding the number one position of most frequently sung in U.K. churches since 2006 (CCLI).

Getty's hymns, along with those written in collaboration with Kristyn Getty, cover many biblical and liturgical themes, including the Incarnation ("Joy Has Dawned"), the Crucifixion ("The Power of the Cross") the Resurrection ("See, What a Morning"), the Holy Spirit ("Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God"), Communion ("Behold the Lamb"), Benediction ("May the Peace of God"), and Missions ("Hear the Call of the Kingdom").

"In Christ Alone" Song[edit]

In 2001, Getty and Stuart Townend wrote the song "In Christ Alone" with the purpose of creating a modern hymn that would explain the life of Christ.[7] They released it on the Kingsway album New Irish Hymns, featuring vocalists Máire Brennan, Margaret Becker, and Joanne Hogg. The song gained popularity, and by 2005 it was named by a BBC Songs of Praise survey as the 9th best loved hymn of all time, and in their 2010 survey was named 2nd best hymn of all time.[8] It hit number one on the United Kingdom CCLI charts by 2006, and in January 2009, it was still number one in the UK, number two in Australia, number seven in Canada, and number 15 in the United States.[9] The British Hymn Society nominated "In Christ Alone" as one of the top 5 hymns of all time, and BBC One’s "Songs of Praise" nominated "In Christ Alone" as a top 10 hymn in 2012.[10]

"In Christ Alone" Album[edit]

In Christ Alone was a recording of Getty's best known ten hymns as of 2007 with Kristyn Getty as vocalist. Getty has been recognized by industry leaders as an innovator in the modern hymn genre.

After a total distribution of approximately 200,000 units (not including singles downloads, accompaniment tracks, songbooks, etc.), In Christ Alone was nominated for a Dove Award in 2007. "The Risen Christ", a choral collection based on the album, was also nominated for a Dove Award in 2009.[11]

This project was the basis for introducing Getty's wider catalog to the United States. Appearances included working with Billy Graham Evangelical Association on two festivals with Franklin Graham,[12] appearances at Royal Albert Hall, Pentagon, National Prayer Breakfast Media Dinner as well as two top ten inspirational Christian radio hits ("Higher Throne" and "Power of the Cross").

"Awaken the Dawn" Album[edit]

In 2008, Awaken the Dawn was released as Getty’s sophomore album.[13] The album was nominated in the 41st GMA Dove Awards for "Praise and Worship Album of the Year", Awaken the Dawn introduced a more "worship band" approach as Getty and Kristyn began to tour and present their music to the American church.

The album also collaborated with Grammy Award winning producer Phil Naish, the string arrangements of Rob Mathes (music producer of Kennedy Center Honors and Sting) and Nashville rhythm musicians. As a result of a total distribution of approximately 110,000 units, Awaken the Dawn was nominated for a Dove Award in 2009.

"Joy—An Irish Christmas" Album[edit]

The Gettys were invited to appear at The Cove[14] and create Christmas music for an evening with George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows. Billy Graham was a speaker during the first evening of their performances. In 2011, Keith and Kristyn Getty released Joy: An Irish Christmas. The album was dedicated to their daughter, Eliza Joy, born that year.[15]

This album developed into a touring Christmas show, which has matured each year, presenting opportunities for performances at many of Americas leading concert halls. "Irish Christmas" has an annual Carnegie Hall sell out show, and was presented at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.[16] Its popularity has led to numerous broadcasts, including on American Public Television through Detroit PBS. Coinciding with the tour, American Public Television stations aired Joy-An Irish Christmas nationally during the holiday season including broadcasts in at least 55 major U.S. television markets and to some 45+million households. The 60-minute TV special, presented by Detroit Public Television, was taped in 2014 in the historic Tennessee Theatre." The 60-minute TV special, presented by Detroit Public Television, was taped in 2014 in the historic Tennessee Theatre.

After the initial success of Joy: An Irish Christmas, Getty released a live version of the album. The live album was recorded at the Tennessee Theatre in Knoxville, Tennessee in 2014 in association with American Public Television, and will air on Public Television in the fall of 2015. Joy: An Irish Christmas LIVE will be released on 9 October 2015.

"Hymns for the Christian Life" Album[edit]

In 2012, The Getty’s released Hymns for the Christian Life, a collection of music that most strongly represented the Getty's move to Nashville, Tennessee.[17] The album is deeply personal, both in terms of writing more hymns on how the gospel speaks to the issues of everyday life and moving away to a more acoustic musical style that blends the two cultures they live—Irish and American folk music.

The album was produced by Charlie Peacock (The Civil Wars, Switchfoot) and Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band). The album featured special guests including Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs and Máire Brennan.[18]

In 2014, The Greengrass Sessions EP was released as a supplement containing additional songs used on the Hymns for the Christian Life tour. This was a limited edition EP that contained recordings of the live tour band.

The Gospel Coalition Live Album[edit]

In the spring of 2013, the National Conference of The Gospel Coalition was held in Orlando, Florida, and was attended by more than 5,000 people from more than 40 countries and 49 of the United States. Keith and Kristyn Getty led the music at this event with traditional and modern hymns, including several selections from the Getty’s well-known catalog. This became a live album, as well as a printed songbook.[19]

The album was produced by Ed Cash, and features 13 previously-released songs.

"Facing a Task Unfinished" Album and Global Hymn Sing

In 2016, Keith and Kristyn Getty began work on their new album Facing a Task Unfinished. The album's title track is the hymn "Facing a Task Unfinished," which Keith & Kristyn were invited to re-write by OMF International from the original by Frank Houghton in 1931.[20] On 21 February 2016, the Gettys led a global hymn-sing of the song, in which an estimated 1.1 million people sang the hymn in 100 countries.[21] The album was recorded in Ocean Way Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. The album also features special guests Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Fernando Ortega, John Patitucci, and Chris Tomlin.[22] The album was scheduled to release June 2016.

Artistry and influence[edit]

Getty has been influenced by the work of musicians such as Irish traditional musicians, George Gershwin and Johann Sebastian Bach. Getty’s hymns have developed a particular poetic and musical style that unites people of diverse traditions and generations, choosing influences of folk and classical music as well as of contemporary songwriting and standard hymnody.

In reference to his song writing and musical performance, Getty has said: "I do not pretend to be qualified to write a theological treatise on this particular subject. Congregational singing is a holy act, and as I organize my thoughts, I hear my old pastor, Alistair Begg, reminding me that in our song worship, we have to be spiritually alive..."

When touring, Getty is known to lead a discussion on worship with local pastors, worship leaders, and other church musicians.[23]


Getty has travelled around the world as a member of the singing duo group, Keith & Kristyn Getty. They have performed at venues including the Ryman Auditorium, Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall, the Pentagon, the Grand Ole Opry, and more. The Gettys have also performed for former United States President, George W. Bush, South Korea President Lee Myung-bak, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

Joy—An Irish Christmas[edit]

In 2010, Tom Bledsoe invited Keith and Kristyn Getty to join a special Christmas celebration in with George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows. The event included Billy Graham as the headlining speaker. The Gettys prepared thirty minutes of music from their album Joy: An Irish Christmas for the first evening. Their segment was expanded to a fuller evening of music subsequently presented to a number of churches that year.[24]

By 2011, Joy—An Irish Christmas was developed into a full-length album and a monthlong concert tour.[25] Their first tour included 18 performances with several sold out shows, including a concert at Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee.[26]

The tour returned in December 2012, with more than 30,000 people and over 18 performances. The Gettys performed at several concert hall venues including Atlanta’s Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, which sold out.[27]

Irish Christmas took a hiatus in 2013 as Keith and Kristyn awaited the birth of their second daughter. The tour returned to North America in 2014. There were an estimated 50,000 people who attended the 18 performances. The tour featured stops at notable venues including Winspear Opera House in Dallas, Texas and Connor Palace Theater in Cleveland, Ohio. The 2014 tour culminated in a Carnegie Hall sell out with Ricky Skaggs as a special guest.[28]

2015's Joy—An Irish Christmas Tour took place in over 20 cities across the southeastern United States, including sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center, The Schermerhorn Symphony Center, and The Kimmel Center. The Gettys were joined by guest artists John Patitucci and Sally Lloyd-Jones in New York, as well as Buddy Greene and Ricky Skaggs at The Fox Theatre and the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, with astronaut Butch Wilmore as a special guest at the tour’s final stop in Nashville.

Hymns for the Christian Life American & Celtic Tours[edit]

Keith Getty, along with Kristyn Getty and friends toured the UK in 2012 during their The Northern Celtic Islands Tour.[29] Over the course of three weeks, they appeared in ten concert halls, including the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Waterfront Hall, and Glasgow SECC Arena. Several of the performances were sold out weeks prior to the concert. Guest performers included Stuart Townend, New Scottish Choir and Orchestra, Jonathan Rea, New Irish Arts, and Dr. Noël Tredinnick.

In 2013, Keith and Kristyn embarked on the Hymns for the Christian Life Tour throughout North America.[30] More than 40,000 people on a 22-city trek attended the tour. The Gettys performed at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, TX and Hamilton Place Theatre in Hamilton, Ontario. They also made appearances at several churches including David Jeremiah’s Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California, and Charles Stanley’s First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Twelve cities on the tour were first-time appearances including the Getty’s sold-out premiere performance in New York City.

Television appearances[edit]

The Getty’s Joy—An Irish Christmas music special was featured on Public Television across America November and December 2015, as well as on BBC One Northern Ireland in December 2015.

The Gettys were featured as a cover story on CBS Sunday Morning for their Easter 2015 (5 April) broadcast. CBS released this statement, "For the segment, which is titled In The Spirit, the Gettys were interviewed in their Nashville home by CBS News correspondent Tracy Smith and recorded while performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville on St. Patrick's Day." CBS News reporter Tracy Smith focused on the backstory behind the popular hymn "In Christ Alone," which was originally written back in 2001 by Getty and Stuart Townend.[31] In addition, Keith and Kristyn have made frequent appearances on BBC’s Songs of Praise special.

Awards and honours[edit]

The song, "In Christ Alone" was number one on the CCLI UK charts by the year 2006, and was the number two song on the BBC charts in 2010. In Australia, it was the number two song in 2009. The British Hymn Society named "In Christ Alone" as one of the top 5 Hymns of All Time.

The album, "Awaken the Dawn" was nominated for a Dove award in 2008. "Hymns for the Christian Life" was also nominated for a Dove award in 2013.

Getty holds an honorary doctorate from Lancaster Bible College, awarded to him in 2011.

In 1994, Getty founded the New Irish Arts, which works in partnership with the church to present Christianity through the arts. He is also the honorary President of the organization.[32]

Getty was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to music and modern hymn writing.[33]


In 2012, Getty’s hymn "In Christ Alone" was involved in a controversy with the Presbyterian Church (USA) hymnal committee in the creation of their new hymnal "Glory to God". The committee requested permission from Getty and Stuart Townend to use an alternative lyric to the phrase "Till on that cross as Jesus died/the wrath of God was satisfied", changing "wrath of God was satisfied" to "the love of God was magnified."[34]

Getty and Townend rejected this lyric change, and the hymnal committee barred the hymn from the book. Mary Louise Bringle, committee chair, defended their decision saying: "The song has been removed from our contents list, with deep regret over losing its otherwise poignant and powerful witness." The decision to change the text arose when members of the committee found the alternate text in the Celebrating Grace Hymnal published in 2010. They assumed the songwriters had agreed to this change, but upon request of the hymn, found that the text used in the Celebrating Grace Hymnal had not been approved by the writers. Capitol CMG Publishing, managers of the song, said it is working with the Celebrating Grace Hymnal’s publisher to fix the problem.[35]

The controversy was covered by several major news outlets, including USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Economist, and sparked a theological discussion in the church centered on the subject of atonement and the doctrine of propitiation. Getty was quoted as saying:

"First, it's important to express how truly honored we feel that these groups would consider adding "In Christ Alone" to their hymnals. We support the approach they take of studying the lyrics of hymns as they select music worthy to be sung and preserved. However, we believe altering the lyrics would remove an essential part of the gospel story as explained throughout Scripture. The main thread of what we see revealed throughout the Old and New Testament is the need for man to be made right with God. The provided path toward reconciliation came through Christ's predetermined and perfect sacrifice on the cross, satisfying God's wrath once and for all."[36]

Personal life[edit]

Getty met Kristyn Lennox in 2002 after being introduced by his friend, John Lennox, world-renowned mathematician, Christian apologist, and Kristyn’s uncle. Kristyn was attending a nearby university and asked Getty for some musical advice. After dating for two years, the couple married on 16 June 2004. In 2011, the Gettys welcomed their first child Eliza Joy[37]. In 2013, they welcomed their second daughter, Charlotte Juliana. In 2015, their third child, Grace Alexandra was born[38]. In 2018, their fourth daughter, Tahlia Lennox, was born [39].

In 2009, Keith & Kristyn traveled to Ecuador with Compassion International. While there, they visited Compassion International project sites, and were able to meet their sponsored child.[40]

Getty and his wife live between Portstewart, Northern Ireland and Nashville, Tennessee with their four daughters.


See List of songs by Keith Getty




See also[edit]


  1. ^ Keith Getty: Why the Irish Hymn-writing Tradition Inspires me at CCIL for Churches; published 2015; retrieved 30 September 2015
  2. ^ Keith Getty on What Makes ‘In Christ Alone’ Accepted and Contested at The Gospel Coalition; by Collin Hansen; published 9 December 2013; retrieved 30 September 2015
  3. ^ 'Joy: An Irish Christmas' With Keith And Kristyn Getty at; published 2015; retrieved 2016
  4. ^ Playbill: 15–16. 17 December 2014. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ Getty Orchestrations website, accessed January 2009
  7. ^ "Keith Getty" (Artist Biography),, accessed 2004.
  8. ^ BBC Songs of Praise data; article no longer accessible
  9. ^ Previously reported data from
  10. ^
  11. ^ Keith and Kristyn Getty return to Irish roots with new release at Christian Media Corporation; published 5 August 2009; retrieved 9 October 2015
  12. ^ at Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; published 8 September 2006; retrieved 9 October 2015
  13. ^ [ AWAKEN THE DAWN Choral Collection]; published 2009; retrieved 9 October 2015
  14. ^ Who’s writing the new Christmas carols? at World News Group; by Warren Cole Smith; published 20 December 2014; retrieved 9 October 2015
  15. ^ One on One with Keith Getty at Family Christian; by John van der Veen; published 11 March 2013; retrieved 9 October 2015
  16. ^ Getty Music presents: Keith & Kristyn Getty and Friends: Joy - An Irish Christmas at Kennedy Center; published 2015; retrieved 9 October 2015
  17. ^ Keith and Kristyn Getty Share Hymns for the Christian Life at CBN Music; by Hannah Goodwyn; retrieved 9 October 2015
  18. ^
  19. ^ Zork, Nicholas (5 March 2014). "Speaking Beyond a Single Moment: An Interview with Keith Getty". Curator Magazine. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  20. ^ KeithandKristyn Getty (2016-02-02), Facing a Task Unfinished - Story Behind the Song, retrieved 2016-05-31
  21. ^ "Gettymusic - Online music resources for the church". Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  22. ^ "Gettymusic - Online music resources for the church". Retrieved 2016-05-31.
  23. ^ "CBMC World Convention 2014 - Speakers".
  24. ^ "Franklin Graham Festival in Charleston Draws 34,197".
  25. ^ Keith & Kristyn Getty Announce "Joy - An Irish Christmas" Tour at The Christian Beat; by Herb Longs; published 10 September 2015; retrieved 16 October 2015
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre".
  28. ^
  29. ^ Gettys announce Celtic Islands tour at Christian Media Corporation; published 27 April 2012; retrieved 16 October 2015
  30. ^ Arts Around Town: The Gettys on tour lead worship through their art of hymn writing at WFMZ-TV; by Susan Kalan; published 24 October 2013; retrieved 16 October 2015
  31. ^ In praise of hymns at CBS News; published 5 April 2015; retrieved 9 October 2015
  32. ^ New Irish Arts, "About Us,", accessed 10 January 2009
  33. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B11.
  34. ^ Presbyterians' decision to drop hymn stirs debate at USA Today; by Bob Smietana; published 5 August 2013; retrieved 16 October 2015
  35. ^ Spoiling the wrath at The Economist; by B.C.; published 12 August 2013; retrieved 16 October 2015
  36. ^ Presbyterians stir debate by rejecting popular new hymn at The Washington Post; by Bob Smietana; published 6 August 2013; retrieved 16 October 2015
  37. ^ "Blog - Truth for Life with Alistair Begg".
  38. ^ "Keith and Kristyn Getty Welcome Baby Grace | Homecoming Magazine".
  39. ^ "Keith and Kristyn Getty".
  40. ^ Keith and Kristyn Getty travel to Ecuador with Compassion at Christian Media Corporation; published 28 October 2009; retrieved 16 October 2015

External links[edit]