Lisburn hymn writer Keith Getty named on Queen's Birthday Honours list

Keith Getty
Keith Getty

A world-renowned hymn writer from Lisburn, whose hymns are sung by millions of people, has been named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Keith Getty was awarded an OBE for his services and contribution to Music and Modern Hymn Writing.

He is known throughout the world for revolutionising and modernising the classic hymn genre.

Explaining what exactly constitutes a modern hymn, Keith said: “They are more in the tradition of the hymn writers of previous generation than the contemporary pop songs.

“We started trying to write them in 2000 and the first one published was ‘In Christ Alone’, which people started calling a modern hymn, so we just went along with it.”

His famous hymn ‘In Christ Alone’ was the number one most-frequently-sung hymn in UK churches for a record-setting nine consecutive years.

It was also voted number two best-loved hymn of all time in the UK in a BBC Songs of Praise survey and among the top five hymns of all time by the UK Hymns Society.

Performing with his wife Kristyn, the couple have spent the last decade as ambassadors for the genre, re-popularising and energising the singing of hymns around the world, leading the world-wide revival of congregational singing.

Christian Copyright Licensing International, in its licensed regions, say that 40-50 million people sing Getty hymns in church services each year. That does not include unlicensed regions, where it is believed a further 50 million sing his hymns.

The Gettys have performed concerts in world class venues as Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and London’s Royal Albert Hall. They have performed for world leaders such as former US President George W. Bush and former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

In 2016, more than 200,000 people watched their annual Irish Christmas concert. Aired on America’s Public Television it was beamed into more than 45 million homes. It has also played here in Belfast over the past two years.

The couple, both originally from Co Antrim, now live in Nashville, USA with their three daughters Eliza Joy, Charlotte, and Grace. However, they spend their summers at their home in Portstewart.

“I can’t wait to get home,” Keith added. “I can almost taste the fish and chips in Harry’s Shack.”

Keith said he was “surprised and grateful” to be honoured by the Queen, adding: “It is an incredible gift to receive from home both for us as a family and for the great hymn-writing heritage we are a very small part of.

Describing his vocation as a “huge privilege”, Keith added: “I really can’t think of anything else in the world I’d rather have done so we’re both very grateful.”