Home Worship Planning Music Resources “In Christ Alone”

“In Christ Alone”

TITLE: "In Christ Alone"
AUTHOR: Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
TUNE: IN CHRIST ALONE
COMPOSER: Keith Getty and Stuart Townend
SOURCE: Worship & Song, no. 3105
SCRIPTURE: Isaiah 44:8; Matthew 8:23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25; John 10:14; Ephesians 1:17-23; 2:20; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2:1-7; 1 John 2:1-2
TOPIC: comfort, Holy Spirit/Comforter, conversion, transformation, Christ's Passion, resurrection, fears, foundation, guilt, shame, Hell, hope, atonement, cross, salvation, blood of Christ, incarnation, Second Coming, light, pardon, power, sin, strength, struggle, victory

Background

Julian Keith Getty was born December 16, 1974, in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. His musical training began at age eleven on the guitar and flute, with later formal studies at Durham University and Tanglewood in Massachusetts. He continued his study in conducting, arranging, and orchestrating and was helped greatly in his career by Irish flautist James Galway. After success in the commercial entertainment industry, Getty now concentrates his efforts on writing modern church music.

Stuart Townend was born in 1963, the youngest of four children of a Church of England vicar in Halifax, West Yorkshire, England. He began piano study at age seven and studied literature at the University of Sussex. He began writing songs and hymns at age twenty-two. He has been a successful song writer, arranger, worship leader, and publishing executive, as well as performer on piano, guitar, and banjo.

Getty and Townend had individually been involved with projects for Kingsway Music in England. In 2001, Townend had already composed the tune that would eventually accompany "In Christ Alone." Kingsway put Getty and Townend in collaboration, and Getty brought the early version of his text. They worked together for several weeks editing and perfecting the text and tune, and both share equal credit for the final version. It was their first work together, and it has become their most successful composition. After its 2001 release, it quickly grew in popularity and performance. BBC Songs of Praise 2005 survey showed it to be the ninth best loved hymn of all time in the UK. One year later, it became number one on the UK CCLI chart. By January 2009, it remained number one in the UK, number two in Australia, number seven in Canada, and number fifteen in the USA. The February 2011 CCLI chart for the USA showed that it had moved up to number eleven.

Getty and Townend have relocated to the USA, where they remain busy as collaborators, recording new projects, touring, writing, arranging, performing, leading worship, and speaking at conferences. Getty is also a frequent collaborator with his wife, Kristyn.

Music

Of the four phrases of this hymn, the first, second, and fourth are identical, with the third contrasting, resulting in the frequently used AABA structure. The A phrases are in the lower range, while the B phrase breaks free into the upper range. The melody, with the exception of the third note of B, is pentatonic. The pentatonic melody, the shape of the phrases and the rhythm of the motives seem to evoke an Irish folk tune style, perhaps played by a flute or Celtic pipe.

Words

This wonderful text sets out to explain the life of Christ. All four stanzas are composed of short phrases, easy to understand yet profound in content. It speaks of Jesus as the Incarnation of God, who defeated death and who now gives us the confidence to believe and follow.

  • Stanza One: In Christ we find our hope, strength, Cornerstone, and foundation. Christ is love, peace, comfort.
  • Stanza Two: The Incarnation, Jesus as fully human, fully divine, gift of God, rejected, died, atonement for our sin.
  • Stanza Three: Jesus, dead, buried, risen again, victorious. We have been bought by his life, death, and resurrection and now stand victorious with him.
  • Stanza Four: No need for guilt or fear with Christ's power in us. We are destined to share in the power of Christ.

Getty and Townend speak of developing a new kind of hymn they call "modern hymn." Rather than a new style, however, it appears they frequently attempt to combine folk styles, classical hymn forms, traditional hymns and contemporary idioms. It is done skillfully and appealingly in a manner that is both singable and memorable, with texts that are theologically sound and biblically faithful.

There are five Getty and Townend hymns in Worship & Song:

  • 3032, "Across the Lands" (simplified accompaniment in Accompaniment Edition)
  • 3085, "The Power of the Cross" (choral parts in Singers and Accompaniment Editions)
  • 3105, "In Christ Alone" (optional key change in Accompaniment Edition)
  • 3179, "The Risen Christ"
  • 3189, "There Is a Higher Throne"

Sources

See more Hymn Studies.

Related