Keith Getty

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10 carols to celebrate and share the Savior of the world

"Christmas is a wonderful time for us as Christians to sing traditional Christmas carols," Keith Getty says, "songs that plumb the richest doctrinal depths."

CHRISTMAS HYMN: In the Bleak Midwinter

NASHVILLE (BP) -- This carol is the creation of two extraordinary artistic talents: English poet Christina Rosetti and German composer Gustav Holst, best known for composing the orchestral suite "The Planets." For me, this melody is the most beautiful of all the Christmas carol melodies. In the second verse of the carol, Rosetti explores the contrast of the reigning Lord of all heaven and earth becoming a man and being born in the humblest of circumstances.

CHRISTMAS HYMN: Joy to the World

"Joy to the World" not only looks back to Christ's birth but encourages us to look forward "to discover the joy we can find by reflecting on our future hope, the second coming of Christ," Keith Getty says.

CHRISTMAS HYMN: Angels We Have Heard on High

"What must it have been like for the shepherds to witness a sky full of worshiping angels 2,000 years ago?" Keith Getty asks. In "Angels We Have Heard on High," "we are invited to join in with their worship."


Arguably the best-known Christmas carol in the world, "Silent Night" has been translated into 300 languages and dialects, and in 2011 was included in UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list. It's clearly a carol that resonates with people everywhere.

CHRISTMAS HYMN: O Little Town of Bethlehem

The writers of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" didn't expect it to last much past the Christmas of 1868. "But the powerful simplicity of the carol's lyrics has ensured its longevity," Keith Getty says.

CHRISTMAS HYMN: Once in Royal David’s city

NASHVILLE, (BP) -- "Once in Royal David's City" is one of my favorite carols. It's the one that makes me think of home, of Ireland, the most. It was written in the 19th century by Irish poet Cecil Francis Alexander, wife of William Alexander, a bishop in the Church of Ireland. While many of Ireland's poets and playwrights promoted anything but Christianity, there is a wonderful legacy of Irish hymn writers, like Cecil Francis, who taught profound biblical truths through their poems, songs and hymns. Cecil Frances is one of my song-writing heroes!

CHRISTMAS HYMN: O Come All Ye Faithful

NASHVILLE (BP) -- I always associate "O Come all ye Faithful" with going carol singing in Ireland at Christmas when I was a child; it makes this carol incredibly special for me and we always finish our Christmas concerts with it. The carol, originally known as 'Adeste Fidelis', was most likely written by John Francis Wade, a Catholic artist. It remained a Latin masterpiece for 100 years before being translated into English by Frederick Oakley. For congregational and a capella purposes, this carol sings beautifully.

CHRISTMAS HYMN: Hark the Herald Angels Sing

NASHVILLE (BP) -- EDITOR'S NOTE: Modern hymn writer Keith Getty has written a series of essays, each focusing on a Christmas hymn or carol. This is the third of an 11-part series in Baptist Press. Charles Wesley's vision for "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" was, ironically, for it to be a somber carol. Yet the wonderfully triumphant melody written by Felix Mendelssohn, a German-Jewish composer, turns it into a celebration.

CHRISTMAS HYMN: Come Thou Long Expected Jesus

Hymn writer Keith Getty says the hymn "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus" "reminds us so beautifully that, no matter what we are facing or how stressful our lives might be, our true rest is found in Christ."