1. What is the message of your new song, “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death”?
Keith: This song is a declaration that Christ’s resurrection guarantees our hope every moment of every day, even as we face death. The message is that no matter what a believer is going through, no matter how dire the circumstances may seem, the reality of the resurrection transforms every aspect of our lives. We can sing “hallelujah” even when the waves are crashing over our lives, because we know and trust the One who conquered death.
2. What inspired the Getty Music writing team to write a song about hope? What do you think the church can gain from singing about hope and facing death?
Keith: One of our good friends, Matt Boswell, had a child who felt fearful at night because he was afraid of death. Matt wanted to sing a song of hope in Christ to help soothe his son’s fears. He got the idea to write a hymn based on the first article in the Heidelberg Catechism of 1563: “What is your only comfort in life and death?” At the same time, Jordan Kauflin and Matt Merker had brought me an idea for a song about hope, because they felt their congregations needed a stirring hymn of confidence about eternity. So, along with Matt Papa, the five of us joined the two ideas together and “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” was born.
We wrote this song because we are burdened for believers to think biblically about death. Unless Jesus returns first, death is the one experience all people can count on. And yet so few modern songs talk about death. We are convinced that facing the reality of death head on, with the hope that comes from trusting in Christ’s resurrection, is what leads to confidence and assurance in the Christian life. So we wrote this song for our churches and our children, because we want them to find their “only confidence” in the reality that Christ is risen.
3. In Scripture we see that hope is really central to our Christian faith. What do you think makes for authentic hope?
Keith: I can’t put it better than the first article of the Heidelberg Catechism, which inspired this song. Here is a wonderful summary of our Christian hope:
“What is your only comfort in life and death? That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.”
4. A lot of our readers and listeners struggle with God’s mercy. They look at their sin, and they worry that maybe God won’t be merciful to them or won’t save them. What would you want them to gain from singing your song, “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death”?
Keith: We would want them to gain the freedom that comes from knowing that Christ came for people just like them, people who know they need deliverance.
This song asks, “Where is his grace and goodness known?” The answer is: “in our great Redeemer’s blood.” We would pray that all would find comfort in the truth that Christ died and rose for us not because we deserved it but because of his great love for sinners. We could never merit such a gift. Indeed, if we could somehow be righteous enough and clean enough, then we wouldn’t have needed a Savior in the first place. But his resurrection shows not only that we needed a Savior, but that he is the only Savior worth trusting.
So our aim is that this hymn would urge people who feel overwhelmed by sin not to hope that they could somehow ever be worthy, but to put their hope in the Worthy One who bore our sin on the cross and rose again.
5. On St. Patrick’s Day you did an impromptu hymn sing from your home in Nashville, and now you decided to be live on Facebook on Tuesday evenings at 7:15pm Central Time to share songs and encouragements with your children. What inspired you to do this?
Keith: In these difficult days when so many people must stay at home, we think there is a tremendous opportunity for families to build new habits. One of our prayers is that God might use this moment in time to build deeper marriages and families through singing so that the coming generation might be better rooted in the faith.
Kristyn: If you’ve joined us for any of these hymn sings online, you’ll know that our family singing isn’t exactly polished. It’s a picture of real life—our girls are running to and fro, forgetting the words, and getting the hand motions only partially right. But that’s OK—they’re children after all. We don’t claim to be the best parents or to have family devotions entirely figured out. But we thought that letting people “join us” around the piano might be an encouragement to others that singing with your kids can be simple and fun.
Perhaps, we pray, it gives other families an idea of what they could do to start teaching their own kids a few good hymns. We also hope the Lord might use these evenings to bring a glimmer of light-hearted joy to anyone who is having a hard time right now. There is something about seeing the sweetness of childlike faith in Christ that reminds us of what really matters.
6. How has singing hymns together played a role in how you are raising your children?
Kristyn: Scripture calls us to teach our children to love the Lord our God with heart, soul, and might. We are told to do so as we sit at home, walk along the path, lie down, and rise each day (Deuteronomy 6:4-7). Several years ago we realized that although our whole ministry has been built on the idea that believers need solid biblical hymns, we weren’t really being diligent to teach great hymns to our daughters. So as a family we decided to learn one new hymn every month, so by the end of the year we would be able to sing 12 new hymns—all songs which help us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. We tried to pick songs which focus on God’s salvation plan with mankind, and on songs which convey a very wide picture of God: God as creator, sustainer, redeemer and king. All these songs are timeless songs which our daughters can carry in their hearts forever. We also saw that singing these songs would inspire our daughters to ask questions about the words. As they got older, they wanted to know what they were singing and so we had some really good talks about the gospel.
Again, it’s nothing too special. We just sing around the breakfast table, or before bedtime, or both. We sing lots of songs, but almost every day we are singing at least part of our hymn of the month so the girls can be learning all the verses of it. The younger ones may not pick up as many of the words, but that’s fine. They’ll grow into the poetry and the theology of these songs a little bit more year after year.
7. What would you say to parents looking for advice on how to worship more through singing as a family?
Kristyn: Just give it a try, and keep it simple. You can sing along with recordings on your phone, or if anyone in the family plays an instrument you can get them involved, too. You can sing grace before dinner. Use lullaby time at night as a way to sing hymns of comfort over your children, since bedtime is often a moment when little hearts feel afraid.
If your church is streaming or sending out songs on Sunday mornings, you can sing along from your living room. Let your children drum along on pots and pans, and don’t hold them back from loud enthusiasm on the choruses they love. We especially love songs with hand motions; they keep kids engaged and help them understand what the song means. Hymns with a rousing chorus are great as well, because the repetition of the refrain helps children memorize it and feel comfortable singing it. Our girls especially love “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus” and “Blessed Assurance” because they have choruses that are fun to sing.
There’s no right or wrong way to get started. The point is simply to sing, and to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you do.