Anyone who has sung “In Christ Alone” at chuch is more than likely familiar with the modern hymn songwriting of Keith and Kristyn Getty. The Ireland-born couple has made it a mission field to write songs filled with biblical truth. And, in the style of the hymns of the faith, the duo has blessed worshippers with praise songs, such as "The Power of the Cross," "By Faith," "Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed," "O Children Come," and many others.
Keith and Kristyn write words based on truth. Every word has deep meaning and is filled with rich, passionate and living, active theology. The Resurrection Sing! The Life Of Christ Quintology EP is the duo's latest collection of hymns. I had the chance to speak with Keith about “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death.”
Please tell me the personal story behind this song.
"Christ Our Hope in Life and Death" represents several things for us. For one, it’s part of a new season of songwriting for Getty Music. We started out trying to write modern hymns that teach the Christian faith. Several years ago, some of the younger songwriters I’ve met approached me about becoming a publisher. We have built a group of extraordinarily gifted songwriters who have become our writing team.
The six of us all went to Ireland last year to write songs together and we had an awesome time. One of the ideas was about writing a hymn about hope, and another idea was to write a song based on the Heidelberg Catechism, and I suggested we combine those ideas together. That’s how we ended up writing this song. The song's based on how we understand God and life and taken from the Psalms and the teachings of Jesus and Paul’s application of theology in the New Testament.
The hope of the resurrection spurs us to sing. That’s why a group of songwriters from Getty Music wrote the modern hymn “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death.” Like the Heidelberg Catechism document that inspired it, this song is honest about death. There is no need to shrink back from mentioning death in our hymns, because we know the Living One who has conquered death forever.
The Christian can sing hallelujah, because Christ assures us of our glorious future. Now and ever, we confess: “I am not my own, but belong—body and soul in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.” It turns out to be well-timed as we celebrate Easter and face this coronavirus.
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?
1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV): “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NKJV): “But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
Psalm 39:7 (NKJV): “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.”
Psalm 46:1-3 (NKJV): “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah”
Colossians 2:13-15(NIV): "When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; He has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross."
Ephesians 2:1(NKJV): "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins."
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV): “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
2 Corinthians 2:15(NIV): “For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”
What is the takeaway message of the song?
Traditional hymns of the faith that we know talk about death and heaven. They talk about God as our peace and this life not being all that there is. Ninety percent of modern worship songs don’t talk about that, which is a tragedy.
At the end of the day, I don’t know if this song will be popular. I don’t know if I’ll get COVID-19. I don’t know if my daughters will all know the Lord personally. But, I can be sure I’ll die one day. There’s a basic human integrity and logic in each of us that needs to ask the question, 'what happens when I die,' and building our decisions on that.
What is your only comfort in life and in death? For centuries, believers have learned the Christian faith beginning with that question. It’s the first article in the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563. Why start there? Because death is our common fate. Unless Jesus returns first, we will all die.
To find comfort in life, we must know how we can face death. Hope comes only in trusting the one who died to take the curse of death and who crushed the power of death by His resurrection. “Christ has been raised from the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20). That is the only statement that can transform how we live each day and how we prepare for our earthly life to end. That’s why this song is so important to us. Everything centers on Christ. It’s central to us. Our hope in life and death is Christ.
What is our hope in life and death? Christ alone, Christ alone. What is our only confidence? That our souls to Him belong.
Who holds our days within His hand? What comes, apart from His command? And what will keep us to the end? The love of Christ, in which we stand.
O sing hallelujah! Our hope springs eternal; O sing hallelujah! Now and ever we confess Christ our hope in life and death.
What truth can calm the troubled soul? God is good, God is good. Where is his grace and goodness known? In our great Redeemer’s blood.
Who holds our faith when fears arise? Who stands above the stormy trial? Who sends the waves that bring us nigh Unto the shore, the rock of Christ?
Unto the grave, what shall we sing? “Christ, He lives; Christ, He lives!” And what reward will heaven bring? Everlasting life with Him.
There we will rise to meet the Lord, Then sin and death will be destroyed, And we will feast in endless joy, When Christ is ours forevermore.
Spend time with God and let Him redeem and restore you. We're not at the end of our story. God’s still writing our stories of redemption. "Christ Our Hope in Life and Death" is a great example of a biblical truth that all listeners can say, I agree, and amen to.
The Holy Spirit gives us new life. We don't have to live anymore with guilt, fear, perfectionism, or worry. We're new creations and we're children of God. The COVID-19 pandemic is an ongoing reminder to put our hope in Christ. And, this song is an anthem to sing in faith to the only one who has conquered death. Christ is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. He alone is our hope in life and death.
"Christ Our Hope in Life and Death" is an excellent call to worship. It's something to proclaim at every gathering as an encouragement. It's something to strengthen our faith. This song helps us focus on what's most important when we fellowship with each other and with Jesus--even while we're social distancing. Stand in awe of Christ and proclaim the truth: "There we will rise to meet the Lord/Then sin and death will be destroyed/And we will feast in endless joy/When Christ is ours forevermore."
Jesus calls us to rely on Him and the power of His resurrection. And, to remember that He has overcome death and fear. Some truths that we can rally behind together as Christ followers are that God is our Father, He sent His Son Jesus to die for our sins, and He rose again and defeated death.
According to 1 Corinthians 1:18 (NKJV), God's Word tells us that "for the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." The song's message challenges us to think about our own doubts. How Jesus calls us to rely on Him and the power of His resurrection. And, to remember that He has overcome death and fear. That's cause to celebrate and gives Christians everywhere the faith to believe and tell the world, “Unto the grave, what shall we sing?/'Christ, He lives; Christ, He lives.'”
We serve a great and glorious God who's worthy of our praise. The best gift you can give someone is the Good News of the resurrection of our Lord. We meet as believers precisely to celebrate the exciting fact that Jesus is alive. Allow God and His Holy Spirit to change you to be more like Jesus. The song's lyrics encompass the takeaway message, “O sing hallelujah!/Our hope springs eternal!/O sing hallelujah!/Now and ever we confess/Christ our hope in life and death.” Amen to that.
NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
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