(photo courtesy Vanessa Myers via Facebook)
What a wonderful evening at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY on Thursday night, December 9, 2010. The Gettys stopped in at SBTS as part of their 2010 Christmas tour. This tour features many instrumentalists, Keith, Kristyn, and a volunteer choir at each stop!
Kristyn is very pregnant, but glowing! Her voice is fantastic as usual, but seemingly more powerful than the last time I heard her in 2009. Keith accompanied on piano AND guitar for each song. Their FANTASTIC violinist virtuoso and background singer, Deborah Coltvet Klemme was unbelievable! Joni McCabe provided solid background vocals and effects on the keyboards (he also does booking,online, merch, etc.) . Dave Cleveland, an Irishman, is the guitarist (acoustic and electric) and also arranged some of the tunes for the band. Dustin Rohrer played the drums and other percussion instruments. Other instruments were used from Irish bagpipes, penny whistles, bass guitar, and accordions by world renown instrumentalist, Jeff Taylor!
The unique thing about this concert is that I was a part of a 60-voice volunteer choir made up of music ministers, SBTS students, and choir members from churches across the state. From Danville to Lewisport, the choir was made up of some talented individuals. Another interesting note is that we had ONE rehearsal before the concert and it was led by Keith Getty. To me, this is like being around in the days of fresh, new hymn-writers at a revival or campmeeting when they were introducing their new song “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord”, “Blessed Assurance” and on and on. Attending a concert by the Gettys is great, but having the composer lead you in a rehearsal and then participate in the concert is a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The rehearsal was rushed and frantic, as Keith was bouncing back and forth from one location to another, but when he worked with us, he was focused, concise, and encouraging. He talked about how he still believed choirs are a fantastic way to communicate modern worship songs even in today’s changing worship scene. He encouraged us to continue teaching our congregations new music that would lead the believers to hear the Word is a fresh way.
We ended up singing eight songs with the band. Four songs we sang were unison (to support Kristyn and encourage congregational singing), and the other four were SATB. The arrangements were lively, definitely Irish in tune and rhythmic emphasis. The Gettys had wonderful, imaginative Christmas arrangements of the “traditional” Christmas carols and hymns. As you would expect from a hymn writer, the melodic line and rhythmic values of the traditional hymns were unchanged. The arrangements were supported and enhanced by the amazing instruments.
This concert proved several things:
1) “In Christ Alone” is today’s version of “Amazing Grace”. The crowd (who paid $10.00 a ticket) sang along with each song, but by far, the loudest and post passionate singing came at the end as we sang, “In Christ Alone”. Moreover, this is the song of the church today because it displays scriptural truths, tells the story of Jesus, and gives the singer an opportunity of response in verse 4. It was easily the highlight of the evening.
2) Churches MUST sing new, Biblically-founded music. Fresh settings from scripture in song give us new insights to God and His plan for us. They also reach those in the church who turn off their listening ears with songs from ages past. Not that things are wrong with these songs, but there are many who cannot be reached by dated music. In this generation, songs from 2006 are deemed dated.
3) Music Ministers must work harder on singing the same hymns/worship songs with new arrangements. New arrangements with the same melody and rhythmic values provide fresh support to a familiar song. When you sing the familiar with a new arrangement, you are almost making the song new again.
Want to know some trending modern hymns? Listen to “In Christ Alone”, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us”, “Speak O, lord”, “The Power of the Cross (Oh to See the Dawn)”, and “My Heart is Filled” all from the Getty’s website.