Prime Cuts: Living Waters, Lift High the Name of Jesus, The Lord is My Salvation
Hailed as the Charles Wesley of the 21st Century, Keith and Kristyn Getty have resourced the church's worship with vocabulary that goes beyond a hook and five repeated lines. On the other, the hymns of the Gettys are not old fashioned and jaded, mummified in the musical noirs of the Victorian era. Rather, they are musically engaging and refreshingly contemporary. As a result, churches of both the liturgically-driven as well as the more contemporary ones have embraced the couple's hymns such as "Speak, O Lord," "In Christ Alone," "By Faith," and many others. Now, they are back with their album of new and non-festive material since 2012's "Hymns for the Christian Life."
Other than the presence of 13 newly recorded stellar songs (or 17 if you get their Deluxe Version), this is upscale affair in terms of the number of luminaries who are listed in the album's credits. Produced by live album recording veteran, Nathan Nockels (Passion, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels), the CD features special guests such as Ladysmith Black Mambazo ("O Children Come"), Chris Tomlin ("O Church Arise"). Fernando Ortega ("My Worth is Not in What I Own"), and John Patitucci ("Consider the Stars").
The album's much talked about track is the title cut "Facing a Task Unfinished." The hymn was originally written in 1931 by China Inland Mission (now OMF International) worker Frank Houghton as a call for 200 missionaries to go into the heart of China at a time of turmoil. The Gettys were commissioned by OMF (International) to reinvigorate this hymn by adding a new chorus specifically to invigorate a new generation of congregational singing. The song for those who have not heard is set to the tune of "The Church's One Foundation," and despite the sentimentality of the hymn's context, is the weakest song on the set.
Much better is their current single "Living Waters." Setting to music the prophecies of Ezekiel and Isaiah fulfilled in Jesus Christ in John 4:14, "Living Waters" is a call to all of us who are thirsty to drink from Jesus. Most valuable is that the song also has an evangelistic thrust beckoning us to "bring our children to the shoreline." If you like Kristyn Getty in her tender momets a la "Speak O Lord," you'd love "The Lord is My Salvation." Capitalizing on their Celtic roots is the danceable "Lift High the Name of Jesus" that boast some delightful clarinet sounds.
Going out on a limp with their most adventurous offering is the African-influenced "O Children Come" which has an extended accapella from Kristyn that is pulverizing. In terms of theological depth, the most meaty contender is "My Worth is Not My Own;" a string-laden ballad about self-surrendered at the foot of the Cross, this track is a must-hear. Not sure why "O Church Arise" (which first appeared in their "In Christ Alone") is reprised again. But this time they have Chris Tomlin on board who doesn't really add too much to this classic.
If you are looking for a worship music that balances depth together with the width of appealing to both the young and old, "Facing a Task Unfinished" is it.
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