Keith Getty

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Keith Getty

Keith Getty speaksCroppedWK.jpg
Getty in 2008
Julian Keith Getty

(1974-12-16) 16 December 1974 (age 45)
Other namesKeith Getty
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • composer
  • businessman
Years active1995–present
(m. 2004)
Parent(s)John and Helen Getty
Musical career
LabelsGetty Music
Associated acts

Julian Keith Getty OBE (born 16 December 1974) is a Northern Irish Christian singer and songwriter, best known for writing the modern hymn "In Christ Alone" in 2001 with veteran English songwriter and worship leader Stuart Townend. Getty and his wife also release music under the musical duo Keith & Kristyn Getty, which have been nominated for many Dove Awards, and has albums that have charted on multiple Billboard charts.

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 St Chad's College, Durham University, graduating with his Bachelor of Arts in 1995.[1] 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.[2]



In addition to his work with his wife as Keith & Kristyn Getty, Getty has also orchestrated or produced music for more than 200 projects—recordings, concerts, theatre, television, and film.[2] 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[3] and Once upon a Time: The Essential Ennio Morricone.[4] He has orchestrated for Sir Cliff Richard and other gospel artists including Natalie Grant and Watermark.[5] He wrote and produced the music for the 1998 C. S. Lewis International Centenary Celebrations.[6]

"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 ninth best loved hymn of all time, and in their 2010 survey was named second 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 five hymns of all time, and BBC One's "Songs of Praise" nominated "In Christ Alone" as a top 10 hymn in 2012.[10]

Keith & Kristyn Getty[edit]

Influences and composition technique[edit]

The Gettys melodies have strong similarity to Irish folk songs, Keith Getty has said 'Most of our best hymns are based on folk melodies'[11] and We write melodies that borrow their structure more from classic music or traditional folk music that can be sung apace,[12] in response to an interview observation "So why do they sound so much like something that’s always been around. You hear it and you think 'I heard that before I don’t know where, but I heard that'?

"There’s two reasons: one could be the songs are stolen, but as far as I know they’re not stolen! But I think that really boils down to melody, especially folk melody style. There are influences of folk music...[13]

While some of the melodies are virtually identical to their influence for example 'My Heart is Full of Thankfulness' is extremely akin to the Robert Burns' song 'My Love is like a Red Red Rose' other Getty melodies appear to be more subtle 're-workings' of well known songs. These include 'Across The Lands' which draws from the well known Folk Song 'Wild Mountain Thyme' the melodic structure namely the first 8 notes are identical, the verses of 'Hear the Call of the Kingdom' draws from 'Battle of the Royal Republic', 'In Christ Alone' appears as a re-working of the Hymn 'Before the Throne of God' and 'Over Fields of Green' being very similar to 'Dawning of the Day/Raglan Road' however set to an alternative time signature. These amongst other examples have prompted many to conclude that The Gettys do not 'create' new melodies but Keith Getty has mastered reworking existing melodies in new and fresh approaches.

Awards and honours[edit]

Keith Getty received the O.B.E. Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth II, becoming first church musician of the modern era to be given the award for contribution to music and hymn writing.[14]

Keith has received honorary doctorates from Lancaster Bible College and Dallas Baptist University.

He has been awarded the Freedom of the City of Lisburn.

He is Honorary President and founder of the New Irish Arts.[15]

He is a Steinway artist.


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."[16]

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.[17]

The controversy was covered by several major news outlets, including USA Today,[18] The Washington Post,[19] and The Economist,[20] 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.[21]

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.[22] In 2013, they welcomed their second daughter, Charlotte Juliana. In 2015, their third child, Grace Alexandra was born.[23] In 2018, their fourth daughter, Tahlia Lennox, was born.[24]

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.[25]

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. ^ "The Queen's Birthday Honours 2017". Durham University Alumni. Retrieved 27 June 2019.
  2. ^ a b [1]
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ [3]
  5. ^ "RealPlayer and RealTimes Official Homepage –". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  6. ^ [4]
  7. ^ "Worship Together | New Worship Songs Music and Resources". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  8. ^ "BBC One - Songs of Praise". BBC. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  9. ^ Previously reported data from
  10. ^ [5]
  11. ^ "Calvin University". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  12. ^ "And Can It Be? New Hymns!". 6 June 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  13. ^ "Modern-Day Hymn Writers Seek to Magnify Christ in Music". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  14. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B11.
  15. ^ "New Irish Arts". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  16. ^ Presbyterians' decision to drop hymn stirs debate at USA Today; by Bob Smietana; published 5 August 2013; retrieved 16 October 2015
  17. ^ Spoiling the wrath at The Economist[[; by B.C.; published 12 August 2013; retrieved 16 October 2015
  18. ^ Smietana, Bob. "Presbyterians' decision to drop hymn stirs debate". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  19. ^ Bob Smietana (6 August 2013). "Presbyterians stir debate by rejecting popular new hymn". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  20. ^ "Spoiling the wrath". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  21. ^ Presbyterians stir debate by rejecting popular new hymn at The Washington Post; by Bob Smietana; published 6 August 2013; retrieved 16 October 2015
  22. ^ "Blog - Truth for Life with Alistair Begg". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Keith and Kristyn Getty Welcome Baby Grace". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  24. ^ "Keith and Kristyn Getty". Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  25. ^ Keith and Kristyn Getty travel to Ecuador with Compassion at Christian Media Corporation; published 28 October 2009; retrieved 16 October 2015
  26. ^ [6]
  27. ^ [7]
  28. ^ [8]

External links[edit]