Tony Cummings reports on the significant third annual Global Hymn Sing and the work of KEITH & KRISTYN GETTY

Kristyn and Keith Getty
Kristyn and Keith Getty

Few people in today's Church can be unaware of the classic modern hymn "In Christ Alone" written by Keith Getty with Stuart Townend and the albums he has recorded with his wife Kristyn, who continue to live between Northern Ireland and Nashville, have been hugely important in reawakening the worldwide Church to the potential of hymnody and its place in worldwide mission. In Keith and Kristyn's book Sing!: How Worship Transforms Your Life, Family And Church, the couple wrote, "So many of the instructions given to God's people are to be worked out in community, TOGETHER. Strong, heartfelt congregational singing is a striking expression of this, of the Holy Spirit at work amongst us and through us as we sing of the very things we share as Christ's people." Now Keith's ministry, Getty Music, in association with mission organisation OMF, have announced the third annual Global Hymn Sing, encouraging churches around the world to join together in song across nations, denominations and languages. The campaign, which in previous years has seen over 1.5 million people take part across 100 countries, aims to draw together churches and encourage them to focus on the mission of Jesus Christ through the words of the classic hymn, "Jesus Shall Reign".

As part of the campaign, scheduled for Sunday 25th February, churches around the world will be singing this song in their worship services as an act of solidarity and fellowship in support of global missions to the unreached. Already over 700,000 people from 3,300 churches in 68 countries have signed up for the 2018 campaign, and more are registering their participation every day.

In 1925, the Scottish athlete Eric Liddell decided to finish his career less than one year after winning the gold medal at the Paris Olympics to become a missionary in China. The media called him a fool, and when he was leaving Edinburgh's Waverley Station, he was asked to comment and instead of making a statement he sang this song, "Jesus shall reign where'er the sun does his successive journeys run, His kingdom stretch from shore to shore till moons shall wax and wane no more."

Said Keith Getty, "This hymn, 'Jesus Shall Reign', is very special to me. In that moment when the world was against him, Liddell stood firm and continued on the mission he knew God had called him too. The story of the church in China has been an incredible one, growing from 1 million believers to an estimated 100 million believers today. We want this campaign not only to be about congregational singing, but churches partnering in missions to see more lives impacted by the transformational message of the gospel."

The Gettys have written a new chorus for the long-loved hymn, creating a contemporary church setting for this year's Global Hymn Sing. The Gettys are also continuing their partnership with missions agency OMF who serve the church and seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ in all it's fullness with the peoples of East Asia. The organisation supports church planting, missional business, student work and medical practice, and aim to present the gospel in a culturally relevant way.

There has never been a time when an event like Global Hymn Sing has seemed more significant. In the Sing! book Keith and Kristyn wrote, "To borrow from Charles Dickens this is the best of times, and it is the worst of times. And so the need for believers to hold tightly and loyally to the true Christian faith and to share it with conviction, courage and compassion has never been more critical. That means that it is vital that we sing together. The songs we sing together are lifelines that draw each of us back to the heart of the king we serve and to the priorities of the kingdom we are members of. The songs we sing to ourselves are what tether us to our Lord day by day. The songs we sing to others are what proclaim his kingdom manifesto in a way that reaches deep into their heads and their hearts." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.