Keith and Kristyn Getty, Hymns for the Christian Life Their usual excellent fare: scriptural content, artistic quality, exquisite production.

Label: Integrity Music
Time: 15 Tracks / 66 minutes

The Gettys have moved to Nashville, everybody! They mention it in the liner notes – repeatedly.

However, it cannot make too much difference; as they have always produced beautifully buffed music, there is little room for improvement in their production values. Neither have they lost the anthemic, melodic Celtic feel of many of their tunes – as shown in the exhilarating opening Easter song “He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed.” It may even be a little more Irish than usual: Moya Brennan guests, adding a Gaelic lullaby, and they incorporate two of Ireland’s best traditional tunes: “Toss the Feathers” and “She Moves Through the Fair.”

For me one of the outstanding musical achievements of this disc is the way that they incorporate so much into their re-working of “Nothing but the Blood.” They integrate the Irish “Toss the Feathers” early on as a preview, then let it explode for an all-too-brief minute at the end. They also visit Appalacia, adopting some of "Bonaparte's Retreat," which ELP fans will recognises as a tune developed in Copland’s “Hoedown.”

So far, so Gettys. But there are a few signs that their new Nashville neighbours have impacted this album. Ricky Skaggs sings and plays on ‘’Simple Living;” both that and the delightful instrumental “The Village Reel” have a bluegrass twist and Alison Krauss duets on a tenth anniversary edition of their own “In Christ Alone.” And if he hasn’t been busy enough producing his own exemplary collection this year, Charlie Peacock added production talents to this as well.

The Gettys look further afield, too. Bach gets a look-in on “Before You Kneel,” and “Kyrie Eleison” was written for the closing communion at the recent Lausanne Congress in South Africa.

The beauty of this collection is more than skin-deep. You wouldn’t get the cash-obsessed Hillsongs writing songs like “Simple Living” and any church that uses the Gettys’ worship material in preference to Hillsongs would be feeding its spiritual life with a far richer fare. True to its title, themes in this deeply scriptural and relevant collection include confession, attitudes to money, Christ’s obedience, a wedding song; one for a new baby and a prayer for everyday work.

Those familiar with their catalogue may hear some tracks and wonder, “Haven’t I heard this tune from them before?” as the exquisite sheen is sometimes at the expense of individual dynamic flair. But the Gettys more than maintain their reputation for polished contemporary hymns that match their classic themes with timeless melodies.

This could be the couple’s best release to date and it is certainly a strong way for beginners to discover their material.

Derek Walker

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