Prime Cuts: God So Loved, By Faith, Jesus Shall Reign/Nothing But the Blood
Overall Score: 5/5
Two words in the titular of the Getty's new record need unpacking. They are "kids" and "hymnal." Often, creators of children's albums are so keen to make the music accessible to the little ones that they have stripped the record of any virtuoso. This is not so with "Getty Kids Hymnal," the backing, which features a full orchestra of bluegrass and Celtic instrumentation, is top-notched. In fact, the instrumentation is so top of the range that it is even than the Getty's own studio efforts. Second, the word "hymnal" maybe off putting for those who don't like to visit the music museum for their worship repertoire. But, other than a few traditional hymns, this album is essentially a re-imagination of some of the best songs written by the Gettys from their earlier compositions right up till their latest album "Facing a Task Unfinished."
"For the Cause" is the second instalment in this series and it's released only a few months after the vanguard project. Like its predecessor, Keith and Kristyn do not sing lead (except for "Oh Children Come" where Kristyn is prominently featured). The vocals are mainly done by the Gettys' kids ensemble. If you think that's amateurish, the first song off the record will get you reassessing. This isn't your cutesy average Sunday school impromptu. Rather, what you have is a synchronized choir of children singing various harmonic parts. And when they come together, their voices are so seamless that you swear an angel must be stitching the parts together.
Relative to the first volume, "For the Cause" has a more international appeal. Their take of the hymn "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name," for instance, is a global patchwork of variegated cultural influences. Boasting a sweeping Celtic festive vibe that undergirds the song, you will also hear the children singing in African too. The same is true of "Oh Children Come." Originally lifted from the Gettys' 'Facing a Task Unfinished," "Oh Children Come" is given an African tribal augmentation that literally gives the song a refreshing new dimension. But when it comes to the medley "Jesus Shall Reign/Nothing But Blood," they elevate us above the confines of human divides to the celestial heights of heavenly worship with an acapella section of "Jesus Shall Reign" that is gloriously divine.
More unexpected new (or at least unfamiliar) cuts make it this time round. The title cut "For the Cause" was written specifically for this project. It has the typical Getty hymn-like stamp without sounding like it is one of their best. "God So Loved the World," on the other hand, is sublime. Tying the birth of Jesus to his death and resurrection as well as drawing out the implications of Christ's life for our salvation, this is a perfect sermon captured in song. Then the kids give a soul stirring version of Keith Green's "There is a Redeemer" which is pulverizing.
Not missing are the Getty staples. "By Faith," "Oh How Good It is" and "Facing a Task Unfinished" have been made accessible to people of all ages with its colorful (and often Celtic) backings. It's not an everyday occasion that a kids' album can solicit so much praise, but this record truly is an exception. Superb, simply superb!