Join Keith & Kristyn Getty and their daughters for a Family Hymn Sing each Tuesday evening at 7:15 p.m. CST.
By Keith Getty and Matt Merker
COVID-19 has upended life for billions. This unusual season brings countless trials, pressures, and pains. And yet, we trust that God has important lessons to teach His people during such disorienting days.
One of those lessons is that no matter where we are, whom we are with, or what is happening in the world, believers can and should sing to our Savior.
For many of us, this moment offers an opportunity to cultivate singing at home with family. Millions of Christians may be unable to gather with our local churches, but no virus can silence our praise with relatives or roommates.
And at a time of global panic and uncertainty, we need rich, biblical songs now as ever. We need to soak our hearts and minds in hymns that are honest about death and suffused with the unshakable hope of eternity.
Both of us are fathers. We’ve been seeing a lot more of our kids lately—and they’ve been seeing a lot more of us (whether they like it all the time or not!).
Our extra time at home has reinforced the notion that one of the best ways we can serve our wives and children—not only now, but also in more “normal” seasons of life—is by leading our families more faithfully and more enthusiastically in song.
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).
Singing together is one way we obey this command.
Could this moment in history lead to a renewal of singing in Christian families around the world, by God’s grace?
We pray it would be so, and that the habits we foster during this season may build stronger foundations for marriages, families, and the generations to come.
You don’t need a music degree or a grand piano to jumpstart vibrant singing at home.
You can sing along with recordings on your phone around the breakfast table. You can sing your kids to sleep with hymns before bedtime. You can sing grace before dinner.
If your church is streaming or sending out songs on Sunday mornings, you can sing along from your living room. Don’t worry about being polished or put together—in fact, it’s probably better to keep things fun, informal, and brief.
Let your children drum along on pots and pans, and don’t hold them back from screaming out the choruses they love. The point is simply to sing—and to let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you do.
Even as we write this, our hearts also break for believers who are home alone and for those who desire marriage and children.
We are praying for those who must sing alone during this season, even as we ask for your prayers for families to grow in singing too.
For those who do have children in the home, it’s important to consider carefully what songs you will sing with your kids.
Every song teaches them (and us!) something about God. What sorts of hopes and values are your children absorbing from the songs they sing?
Here are 14 hymns for your family to try. These are all songs that we’ve been singing with or to our own children.
Some of them are upbeat and energetic, inviting little hearts and voices to join in. Others are reflective hymns of comfort, perhaps better suited for lullaby time before bed.
Half of them have been sung for generations, while the other half are modern.
What they all have in common, though, is that they offer confidence in the fact that Christ has conquered the grave.
These are the sorts of songs that prepare believers to die well, in full assurance that Jesus is victorious over sin and death.
They are hymns that speak of heaven and the age to come, beckoning us to set our hearts on that eternal city where disease, suffering, and sin will be no more.
For each hymn, we’ll quote one verse that addresses the themes of hope, eternity, and the new creation. You can find a playlist of all 14 songs on Spotify.
Classic Hymns of Hope
1. “All Hail the Pow’r of Jesus’ Name” (Edward Peronnet and John Rippon)
This rousing hymn instills confidence that one day, all believers will join this wondrous scene:
“Oh, that with all the sacred throng we at his feet may fall!
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.
We’ll join the everlasting song and crown him Lord of all.”
2. “I Stand Amazed in the Presence” (Charles H. Gabriel)
Our prayer for our kids is that they would stand amazed before Jesus—now and in eternity.
“When with the ransomed in glory
His face I at last shall see,
’Twill be my joy through the ages
To sing of his love for me.”
3. “Blessed Assurance! Jesus Is Mine” (Fanny Crosby)
Songs with simple, joyful refrains help our youngest children stay engaged. The Getty girls love to exclaim at the top of their lungs, “This is my story! This is my song!”
“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchased of God,
Born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.”
4. “Nothing but the Blood of Jesus” (Robert Lowry)
Kids love question and answer songs. The repeated answer, “nothing but the blood of Jesus,” helps them catch on.
By singing a hymn like this one, our children can discover the basic idea of substitutionary atonement even before they learn big theological words.
This melody is well-suited for a lively Irish arrangement full of clapping and dancing—you can almost tell Robert Lowry’s dad was from Ireland!
“This is all my hope and peace:
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
This is all my righteousness:
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
5. “It Is Well with My Soul” (Horatio Spafford)
This song is a wonderful choice for families, not only because of its rich theology and poetry, but because our kids so look forward to singing the echoes in the refrain.
“O Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
Even so, it is well with my soul.”
6. The King of Love My Shepherd Is (Henry Williams Baker)
This gorgeous setting of Psalm 23 is bedtime favorite in the Merker household.
“And so through all the length of days,
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
Within thy house forever.”
7. Abide with Me (Henry Lyte)
The Getty household often sings this hymn last at night, especially if the kids are feeling scared. This poignant prayer works well as a lullaby:
“Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes.
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.”
Modern Hymns of Hope
8. “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death”
We recently completed this hymn with three wonderful friends: Matt Boswell, Jordan Kauflin, and Matt Papa.
It’s inspired by the first article of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563): “What is your only comfort in life and in death?”
Matt Boswell had the idea to write a song based on this creed, because one of his children was struggling with fear of death.
It is harrowing for a child (or any of us) to go to bed each night afraid, but the reality of Christ’s resurrection allows us to rest. Our kids have been belting out the “hallelujah” in the chorus.
“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.”
9. “His Mercy Is More”
With fun hand motions that keep kids engaged, this song provides a compelling way to teach kids the radical nature of God’s mercy. This is probably the Getty kids’ favorite song right now.
It’s a great place to start if you’re looking for your first song to introduce.
“What patience would wait as we constantly roam;
What Father, so tender, is calling us home.
He welcomes, the weakest, the vilest, the poor;
Our sins, they are many, His mercy is more.”
10. “Lift High the Name of Jesus”
This energetic song invites children to clap, drum, and dance along.
“Lift high the name of Jesus,
Of Jesus our Light.
No other name on earth can save,
Can raise a soul to life.
He opens up our eyes to see
The harvest He has grown.
We labor in His fields of grace
As He leads sinners home.”
11. “My Heart Is Filled with Thankfulness”
Gratitude is always a timely theme—not just for kids, but for us grown-ups too. Even in the midst of a season of uncertainty, those who are in Christ have countless reasons to give thanks.
Kristyn sang this at the birth of each of her children, and has used it throughout their lives at nighttime.
“My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly;
Whose ev’ry promise is enough
For ev’ry step I take,
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace.”
12. “My Worth Is Not in What I Own (At the Cross)”
The moment in which we find ourselves offers an opportunity to remember (and to teach our kids) that we are not the sum of our wealth, possessions, or accomplishments. We find our value in Christ, at his cross.
“As summer flowers we fade and die
Fame, youth and beauty hurry by
But life eternal calls to us
At the cross”
13. “He Will Hold Me Fast”
Children and adults alike battle fear. What does the future hold? Will I make it to the end? This song assures us that Christ will never let go of those who are his.
This is a song dear to the Merker family, as Matt wrote it in a season of trial and suffering several years ago. Now, he and Erica sing it with their kids in hard and anxious moments.
“For my life He bled and died
Christ will hold me fast
Justice has been satisfied
He will hold me fast
Raised with Him to endless life
He will hold me fast
Till our faith is turned to sight
When he comes at last”
14. “In Christ Alone”
The Getty kids have grown up with this song. Kristyn taught it to them verse by verse so that they could learn to articulate the faith. As a creedal song, it teaches believers to articulate the basic truths of the gospel.
Even if kids don’t grasp every concept in their early years, it’s still worth teaching songs like this. They’ll plumb these doctrines deeper and deeper as they get older.
“No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.”
KEITH AND KRISTYN GETTY (@gettymusic) are pre-eminent modern hymn writers in the world today, with hymns such as “In Christ Alone” among the 32 songs in top 500 in CCLI between USA and UK. Born in Northern Ireland, the award-winning artists became the first musicians of the modern era to be given the OBE from Queen Elizabeth II for service to music and hymn writing.
They have become ambassadors for the genre, from their “Sing” book and Conference which welcomes over 15,000 people in Nashville every year, to performing for Presidents and Prime Ministers, a hymn tour and Christmas tour which plays annually at Carnegie Hall and Kennedy Center (as well as two TV specials on PBS and now TBN), as well as founding a publishing company, record label and online learning company for a new generation of writers and church musicians. Keith and Kristyn live between Northern Ireland and Nashville with their four daughters.
MATT MERKER (@MerkerMatt) is director of creative resources & training for Getty Music. Matt has contributed to several modern hymns, including “He Will Hold Me Fast.” He is the author of the forthcoming book Corporate Worship: The Church Gathers as God’s People. Matt and his wife Erica are members of Trinity Church and live in Nashville, Tennessee with their two children.