Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Facing a Task Unfinished, with Keith and Kristyn Getty

Leslie Basham: Worship leader, Keith Getty, has a passion for the gospel to spread across the world.

Keith Getty: I find my greatest disappointment is to not have enough chances to share my faith. I find myself, every morning, more diligent about praying for the world. I find myself, in professional work, more committed to helping partner with churches around the world, and giving music away.

Leslie: This is the Revive Our Hearts, with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth—author of The Quiet Place—for Monday, January 16, 2017.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: As you probably know, Revive Our Hearts has hosted the True Woman Conference every other year since 2008. At each of these events, our friends Keith and Kristyn Getty have helped lead us into worship.

Their latest album is called Facing a Task Unfinished. It’s a call for the church to mobilize and fulfill the Great Commission. Today we’ll hear about the Getty’s heart for missions, and hear about some of the musical surprises on this album.

And later in the program, I’ll let you know how to get a special Revive Our Hearts version of this album, with a lot of bonus material. The team talked with Keith and Kristyn about Facing a Task Unfinished, and why this theme of missions was on their hearts.

Keith: Hi, we’re Keith and Kristyn Getty. 

Kristyn Getty: I’m Kristyn, he’s Keith. 

Keith: Just in case you’re wondering. 

Kristyn: We are married, and we have three little girls. 

Keith: Three little “true women” . . . 

Kristyn: . . . who keep us surrounded by women.

Keith: We’re being made more perfect every day, thanks to their helpful critique—whether it’s requested or not!

Kristyn (singing): 

Facing a task unfinished that drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished rebukes our slothful ease.
We, who rejoice to know Thee renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee to go and make Thee known.

("Facing a Task Unfinished" Keith & Kristyn Getty)

Keith: We’ve done four main albums and then four kind-of side projects.

Kristyn: We’ve been involved in recording back home in Northern Ireland. When we moved to America, we felt the need to have that first album sort of showcase what it was we were trying to do. That was a bit of a collection of the best of the hymns that been had written to that point. 

We felt very much like it was a new beginning for us, being over here. We initially came to America for two years, and we’ve been here ten! So every couple of years, we’ve gone on to the next stage of creativity in the things we’re passionate about and things we feel the church needs to be singing . . . and what we want to sing about. That has led to more and more songs. It gets harder, definitely.

Keith: Yes, this is our life’s work—professionally. But the albums aren’t really as much a big deal in themselves, as much as they’re an expression of what we’re trying to do—in terms of writing hymns for churches and families to sing.

Kristyn (singing):

We bear the torch that flaming fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming that Jesus died and rose;
Ours is the same commission, the same glad message ours;
Fired by the same ambition, to Thee we yield our powers.

("Facing a Task Unfinished" by Keith & Kristyn Getty)

Kristyn: We’re involved in the rewrite of a hymn that’s from the 1930s called Facing a Task Unfinished, by Frank Houghton. He was the head of an organization called China Inland Mission, and he used this hymn to sort of galvanize a new generation of missionaries to China, where persecution was very raw and hard.

That hymn inspired over two hundred missionaries to head across and the mission in China is incredibly encouraging and challenging. When you consider how few believers there were a hundred years ago, and just how many millions there are now.

It excited us, creatively as hymn writers and worship leaders, to look at what a song can do to really get into people’s minds and hearts and affect a lasting change. If we’re not singing about the things that matter, the chances are that we’re not going to do it.

Our friend Os Guinness's family was one of those missionary families who responded to Frank Houghton’s call in that hymn. He wrote to us a couple years ago and said, “I think that, in the West, we have somewhat cooled towards mission.”

And that really struck deeply with us. It sort of sparked a whole new and creative movement in our writing partnership, amid those we like to write with, trying to write songs on missions and about worship and what it means when we sing these things.

Keith: The first time I started singing this song, I found myself growing more missional. I find my greatest disappointments, now, are not having enough chances to share my faith. I find myself, every morning, more diligent about praying for the world. I find myself, in professional work, more committed to helping partner with churches around the world, and giving music away—as opposed to trying to necessarily be involved in the business side of it. And so I think, for me, it’s changed on every level.

Nancy: That’s Keith and Kristyn Getty, telling us why they took up the theme of missions and evangelism on their latest album Facing a Task Unfinished. Now, if you know anything about the Gettys—and as you may be able to tell from their accent—you know that their Irish background has a huge influence on their worship music and gives them a unique sound.

That Celtic influence is still a part of Facing a Task Unfinished. But to mirror the theme of missions around the world, this album also includes sounds from around the world. Keith and Kristyn talk about some of the musical guests they were able to work with.

Keith: The idea that our first album would also feature Ladysmith Black Mambazo—this was kind of wonderful.

Kristyn: That was actually one of the first albums that we ever listened to together when we met—Graceland—we were both aware of it.

Keith: We were working on an African project at the time. 

Kristyn: We could have never imagined the privilege it would be to work with them one day. We never got to go over and meet them; they recorded it remotely in South Africa. We sing it with the backing track.

Keith: I don’t quite have the flair they have. 

Kristyn: But we play it in the backing track with our band and we try it. 

Keith: And we pretend we can do it—we pretend we’re cool! Our kids love The Lion King, so they’re listening to Ladysmith Black Mambazo with The Lion King—it’s funny. Great art appeals to every generation. It’s an amazing thing.

Kristyn singing:

Peace on earth good will to men,
O children come.
Righteous rule that will not end,
O children come.
Lay down all your bitterness,
Turn from sin's toil and distress,
Find His grace and perfect rest— 
O children come!
O children come!


(“O Children Come,” by Keith & Kristyn Getty)

Kristyn: One of the things I was really excited about . . . I’d always said to Keith for years, “If there’s every anybody I really wanted to sing with, it would Fernando Ortega. He is my “go to” voice to listen to late at night when I can’t sleep. 

Keith: Apart from me. 

Kristyn: Apart from my husband. But, actually, all three of the births of my children were to Fernando Ortega’s voice. I love his singing! It’s so easy to listen to. 

Keith: I can’t tell how sick I am of hearing his voice in our house . . . it drives me crazy. I bet he’s really a whiny person to live with. (laughter)

Kristyn: We’d met him a few times (and we were waiting for the right song). We called him and said, “We have song that we think would be perfect for your voice.” He called, and he very kindly planned the backup with me. That was a big moment for me as a singer to get to share that with a male voice and a different type of a singer. It all adds to the enjoyment of the listening experience.

Fernando Ortego singing:

I rejoice in my Redeemer,
Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul.
I will trust in Him, no other,
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.


("I Rejoice in My Redeemer" by Keith & Kristyn Getty and Graham Kendrick)

Kristyn: I think if you’re writing hymns for the church, being singable is one of the primary factors in whether they’re going to work, whether they’re good at all. So that is always our goal. We hit it sometimes okay, sometimes a little better, other times not as well. We’re constantly learning: What is it that people can sing the best?

That is one of our big passions: singability; singing biblical truth. And then also to explore an artistry in as vast a way we can, to celebrate the diverse musical culture and heritage that we each have and that is an expression of the diversity of the world that we part of.

We tried on this album to use various different folk sounds and other cultural sounds in the album, to give that sort of a global feel. That was very exciting for us, just creatively. We just enjoyed it so much. We hope other people do as well.

Fernando & Kristyn singing:

I rejoice in my Redeemer,
Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul.
I will trust in Him, no other,
My soul is satisfied in Him alone.


("I Rejoice in My Redeemer" by Keith & Kristyn Getty and Graham Kendrick)

Keith: I think anyone, whether it’s in our spiritual walk, or as parents, or in our marriage, or in your professional work, everyone has to be growing. Everyone’s either growing or actually losing impetus. I don’t believe anybody’s actually standing still. I believe if you’re standing still, you’re gradually losing the freshness and the energy you had.

So you’ve got to be searching for new things. I think, because we start from a sort-of a folk music beginning ("In Christ Alone" is basically a pentatonic—five-note—melody, like "Amazing Grace" or "Jesus Loves Me"), when you start from that position but you also have a passion for both world music and world mission, it’s a natural place to want to go.

There’s so much happening around the world. I don’t know what the next thirty years are going to bring with that whole sort of missional impetus, but I can’t wait. 

Kristyn: There has been somewhat of a narrowing in sort of contemporary musical expression in the church, that just sort of hones in sometimes. Lyrically there are a few themes, and musically, a few sounds—that’s a wide generalization. But I just think it’s an opportunity for people who are trying to write and serve the church in this musical way to experiment and develop and partner with other people who do different things. It will sort of give fuller expression to what it means to be the Body of Christ. We don’t all look the same, come from the same backgrounds, and have the same educations and circumstances, so why should we all try to sound the same? It doesn’t make any sense. So, it’s a good opportunity to explore that. 

The instrument of music I think serves to gather people in, and then it also creates space for people to reflect. The songs are very full in their lyrics. I think being punctuated with some instrumental music gives people a chance to take a breath. We find that very useful.

There’s a big instrumental piece on the new album called "Beyond These Shores." It is basically a dance all over the world, and explores different folk songs and folk music, and it just shows just how amazing this band is. It lets them just shine, because they are incredible! That’s how we threw that in there.

Keith: Each time I play "In Christ Alone," "Power of the Cross," "Speak, O Lord" . . . if I’m playing it in our family for our kids to sing, or if I’m playing it in Village Chapel, our local church; even if we’re going back to Glen Abbey, a church in Ireland, or going back to Alistair’s church in America (kind of our sending church in Ohio), or playing at True Woman in the arena here, or playing internationally, each time I arrange it differently to help people. Similarly, when you make a record, you’re making something which is actually for people’s listening pleasure. So when you make the record, I think we take a bit more artistic freedom to try and make beautiful music.

We have to remember, what people want is not sound theology and singing about change. They want beautiful words that carry pictures of the Lord like they’ve never thought of to music that is so catchy and so infectious and so beautiful that they stick with us.

And that’s not because we’ve got some peculiar ADD. It’s because we’re fearfully and wonderfully made, and we love beauty. We love beauty in people; we love it in food; we love it in places we see, and we love it in music as well.

Nancy: Keith and Kristyn Getty are telling us about their latest album, here on Revive Our Hearts.

As I said earlier, Revive Our Hearts has partnered with the Gettys at seven True Woman conferences over the years. Our team asked them why working with Revive Our Hearts was such a good fit.

Kristyn: Very much at the beginning of moving to America, in terms of our friendships in America . . . Nancy’s probably one of our longest ones, and we’re so grateful for that. She just came alongside us and was such a huge champion of the hymns.

She just really loved what we had done and what we were trying to do—the philosophy behind it. She just has just cheered us on ever since and made space for opportunities for us to partner and collaborate with Revive Our Hearts.

I think there’s a great synergy between what we’re trying to do—her teaching the truth, and we’re trying to sing it and teach it as well. And then on a relational level, we have just enjoyed each other’s company. I have enjoyed being able to speak to her over the years.

In recent months again, we just have had some really wonderful conversations . . . actually, one I remember. Keith was fast asleep and Nancy's new husband was fast asleep. I was in the bathroom in the hotel, randomly. I don’t know where she was in her home. We were on the phone for about an hour, chatting about this conference, but just talking about everything: marriage and art, things we were reading, things we were struggling with. She prayed for me. It was just such a lush time, and I really appreciated that. On that relational level, Nancy has really spoken into my life.

We are very inspired by what she does and how hard she works. Everything is so fueled by a deep personal walk with the Lord in prayer and personal study, and we can see that in all that she does.

We are just very grateful to have continued to work with her through these years and at these conferences. We’ve really loved it.

Keith: Martin Luther looked at the Old Testament and the New Testament and church history and said, “Reformation must happen by the preaching and the singing of the Word.” Preaching the Word where music is used as a marketing tool for young people or to get people more emotional or to manipulate people or to please the demographic that you want to please in your area or for that event is very short-sighted. You have to put the two together—teaching the Word and singing the Word. Nancy’s kind of obsessed with getting the two together and also creating artistic moments and memories.

I can still remember artistic moments from every True Woman where she has sent hours of tortured thinking, trying to pull together our music and message with overlap, to create things. That’s a unique thing each conference truly has. 

Nancy: And let me just add a little personal note here: I’m so grateful that Keith and Kristyn Getty were willing and available to play at my wedding in November of 2015.

Kristyn: We were just so touched that she asked us. It was so lovely to be able to be part of what was a very special day for her, personally—and not just ministry-professional-wise—although there was so much of it that was so rich and so filled for all who listened in and watched it.

But just to be part of such a special day, and to share in her joy in that way, and to be able to use the hymns and music in general, which has been such a part of her life, and obviously Robert’s life, too. To be able to be there for them that day was just such a privilege!

Kristyn and congregation singing:

Savior, like a Shepherd lead us,
Much we need Thy tender care.
In Thy pleasant pastures feed us,
For our use Thy folds prepare.

Blessed Jesus; blessed Jesus,
Thou hast bought us Thine we are.
Blessed Jesus; blessed Jesus,
Thou hast loved us, love us still.


("Savior, Like A Shepherd Lead Us" by Dorothy A. Thrupp)

Nancy: Today on Revive Our Hearts, we’ve been hearing Keith and Kristyn Getty talk about their heart for missions, and how that heart comes through on their latest album, Facing a Task Unfinished. I think this album will encourage you to worship the Lord, and it will also remind you that we are a part of a body of believers around the world.

We’ve partnered with the Gettys to bring you an exclusive Revive Our Hearts version of this album. In this special package, you’ll get two discs: one is the music CD that we’ve been talking about; the other is a DVD that includes an exclusive, behind-the-scenes interview that our team recorded with the Gettys at True Woman '16. And there are several more bonus videos on this DVD as well.

This version of the album isn’t available anywhere except as our gift to you when you support with a gift of any amount. When you call 1–800–569–5959 and make your donation, or visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com, be sure to ask for this special edition of Facing a Task Unfinished by Keith and Kristyn Getty. We’ll be glad to send one copy per household for your donation this week.

Every time we begin a new year, I find it helpful to make a renewed commitment to be in God’s Word each day, and to connect with Him in prayer. Tomorrow we’ll look together at why a daily devotional life is so important. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

Songs used:

Keith and Kristyn Getty. "Beyond These Shores," "Facing a Task Unfinished," "O Children Come," "My Worth Is Not in What I Own," "We Believe (Apostle's Creed)." Facing a Task Unfinished, © 2016 Getty Music Label, LLC.

Keith & Kristyn Getty. "Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us." Public Domain (Version from Wolgemuth Wedding).

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