Keith Getty Explains the Different Goals of Hymns and Modern Worship Songs

Keith and Kristyn Getty

Every songwriter hopes their tunes stand the test of time.

But for Keith Getty, this goal has particular significance. Keith and his wife Kristyn are writers of modern hymns – songs that, by definition, are intended to be more than a radio hit.

The Gettys recently released their newest album, Sing! An Irish Christmas, which was recorded live at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn.

“The goal of a hymn is – first – does it teach a certain aspect of theology? And, secondly, could this song be sung for the duration of the hymnbook? – 20 years, 30 years, indefinitely. So it’s just a whole different target [than contemporary worship]. In one sense, there’s no scientific definition. In another sense, it’s an entirely different goal.”

Hymns typically use “more classical forms” to “try and teach the faith,” Getty said. By comparison, a modern worship song – generally speaking – “has to sound contemporary” if it is to be played on the radio.

“Only time will tell” whether a hymn will be sung by future generations, he said.

“I don’t think there’s a sense of rightness or wrongness,” Keith Getty said of the comparison between worship songs and modern hymns. “It’s just different artistic goals.”

Getty was the co-writer of In Christ Alone – one of the more popular modern hymns in recent years.

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Source: Christian Headlines