NASHVILLE, TN — Keith and Kristyn Getty, the world-renowned modern hymn writers whose songs are sung by an estimated 100 million people each year in churches and concert halls on every major continent, return with a new studio album titled, Facing a Task Unfinished. The project marks the 5th studio album from the couple and their first major release of new songs since their widely-embraced Hymns for the Christian Life (2012).
Internationally renowned music artists Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Fernando Ortega, John Patitucci, and Chris Tomlin all appear as special guests on the new album.
The album was inspired by the hymn, “Facing a Task Unfinished,” originally written in 1931 by China Inland Mission (now OMF International) worker Frank Houghton as a call for missionaries to go into the heart of China amid harrowing persecution, international political unrest and global uncertainty. Moved by the powerful hymn, more than 200 missionaries soon set sail to plant the seeds of the Gospel in that country, resulting in what mission experts believe to be the greatest growth of Christianity in the history of the world – estimated to be between 80-130 million people over the last three-quarters of a century.
“Frank Houghton believed that God’s people singing together fuels mission,” says Keith Getty. “It is in that same spirit that Kristyn and I have created this new recording – to encourage congregational singing, urgent conversation and expanded global evangelism today.”
The album’s title track is a newly-introduced update of the Houghton classic, “Facing a Task Unfinished,” which OMF International invited Keith and Kristyn to modernize and premiered at the organization’s 150th anniversary in 2015 in Thailand. More recently, the song was the focal point of the largest known one-day global hymn sing when an estimated 1.1 million people in 100 countries joined together to sing the hymn on Sunday, February 21. The event made international headlines, with over 5,400 churches taking part on 6 continents – from Bahrain and Australia to Bangladesh and China, and in dozens of major cities including Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, London Singapore and Los Angeles.
The call of the song and the reach of that global event became a cornerstone on which the Gettys formed the rest of their new album. At its heart is a body of songs crafted for congregational singing, all presented with voices and sounds from around the world. “We are so grateful to the esteemed artists who have joined us to make this a truly international collaboration,” said Keith Getty.
Hailing from South Africa, Ladysmith Black Mambazo first gained international notoriety on Paul Simon’s landmark album, Graceland. The vocal group has also performed with Stevie Wonder, Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, and many others, recording more than 50 albums to date and earning multiple Grammy Awards and nominations.
Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s signature vocals are featured on the track, “O Children Come,” written by the Gettys as a call for believers to “go with the good news of Christ in words and in deeds of mercy to a needy world.”
Bassist extraordinaire, John Patitucci, has performed and recorded with Wayne Shorter, B.B. King, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Natalie Cole, Sting, Bon Jovi, Wynton Marsalis, Carole King and many more. As a bandleader, Patitucci has released 14 albums and has won three Grammy Awards (among his more-than-14 Grammy nominations).
Patitucci, who performed with the Gettys on their sold-out Christmas tour stop at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall in December, is featured on three tracks: “Beyond These Shores,” “We Believe (Apostle’s Creed),” and a bonus track, “Consider the Stars,” a lullaby the Gettys wrote for their three young daughters that is also dedicated to astronauts Colonel Jeffrey Williams and Captain Barry “Butch” Wilmore.
Noted New Mexican Christian singer-songwriter, Fernando Ortega, adds a warm and elegant vocal on “My Worth Is Not in What I Own,” which calls believers to refocus their lives for a greater joy.
Grammy-winning contemporary Christian worship singer, songwriter and recording artist Chris Tomlin joins the Gettys on “Oh Church Arise,” written in commemoration of the hymns of Martin Luther. In addition to singing on the new recording, Tomlin lent his songwriting skills to the song to celebrate the upcoming 500th anniversary of the Reformation.
Other musical guests round out the global sounds of the project, from soulful gospel choirs to the ancient Chinese guzheng (Chinese zither) played by virtuoso, We Fei, who also joined the Getty’s Irish American band for “Beyond These Shores,” an extraordinary “around-the-world” instrumental that unites traditional musical themes from the American South, Eastern Europe, Africa, China and Ireland.
Recorded in Nashville’s historic Ocean Way Recording studio, Facing a Task Unfinished features the Getty’s remarkable band of musicians from Ireland and America, an international congregation of choir singers, Producer Nathan Nockels (Passion, Matt Redman) and the Getty’s Musical Director, Fionan de Barra (the New York City production of Riverdance, Moya Brennan, Clannad). The recording sessions were also filmed by noted filmmaker, Andy Hutch (Van Morrison, Chris Tomlin) who also directed the Getty’s 2015 Joy-An Irish Christmas public television special that aired to 45+ million households last holiday season.
Facing a Task Unfinished was released on June 17. A two-year international tour of the album will begin in September with a run of concerts at Belfast Waterfront in Northern Ireland and US touring later this fall and next spring. More information is available at www.gettymusic.com.
— CNJ staff