Songwriter Keith Getty has revealed the surprising story of the genesis of In Christ Alone as it was voted the third most popular hymn of all time in the UK’s Favourite Hymns, a BBC Songs of Praise special program aired last weekend.
In Christ Alone, co-written by Getty and Stuart Townend in 2000, was ranked just below How Great Thou Art, which came second, and Jerusalem, which came first.
“This hymn has lyrics that continue to resonate with Christians throughout our country and indeed, the world.” – Aled Jones
In the poll voted on by thousands across Britain, In Christ Alone was the highest listed to feature living writers, claiming the crown as Britain’s most popular modern hymn.
In acknowledging the honour, Getty revealed how he came to write the soaring music for the popular song.
“The true story of In Christ Alone is that I found an unpaid electricity bill in my office and on the back of it I had written a melody, and played it, and recorded it and then sent it to Stuart Townend – a couple of months later we had In Christ Alone and the rest is history,” he said.
The song, with a strong Irish melody, is the first hymn Getty and Townend penned together. It’s considered a credal song for belief in Jesus Christ and has been the subject of many cover versions including by American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Adam Young.
As he recorded the song, Young wrote on his blog that it “makes me bawl like a baby. The way the melodies and the lyrics swirl together is so poignant and beautiful … Last night I probably spent more time actually crying at the piano than I did recording it.”
The BBC special last weekend included performances, from across the UK, of each of the much-loved hymns. The performance of In Christ Alone was set in Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast and performed by Daniel O’Donnell.
Hosting the show, much-loved singer Aled Jones commented, “In Christ Alone is a wonderful modern hymn. Written in 2000, this hymn has lyrics that continue to resonate with Christians throughout our country and indeed, the world.”
Getty concluded, “We hope you can know the heights of love and depths of peace that can only be found in Christ alone.”
In Christ Alone has been the most frequently sung song in British churches for a record-setting nine consecutive years.