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The Gettys Spearhead Call For a Global Hymn Sing

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Last week, my daughter and I visited with Keith Getty a bit, talking about music, ministry, and her plans. Keith left our meeting to head to a conference call about a new project they are launching. I asked for some info on that to share with you.

As you may know, Keith and Kristyn Getty are prolific and highly-regarded hymn writers. They have reinvented the hymn-form creating a noteworthy catalog of songs, known and sung the world over by young and old. They’ve connected traditional and classical composition with contemporary, accessible melodies. An estimated 40 million people sing their song “In Christ Alone” (co-written with Stuart Townend) every year in churches around the world. You can watch my interview with Stuart on The Exchange video page.

The Gettys are joining with OMF International to promote a “global hymn sing,” February 21, 2016, featuring the near-100-year-old hymn, Facing a Task Unfinished. Our church will be participating and I want to invite yours to as well.

The Gettys didn’t write the hymn. In fact, China Inland Mission (now OMF International) worker Frank Houghton originally wrote “Facing a Task Unfinished” in the 1920s as a call for 200 missionaries to go to China at the height of persecution. Despite obvious danger, by 1931 over 200 had planted the seeds of the Gospel. Mission experts believe the call and response contributed to greatest growth of Christianity in the history of the world, estimated at 80-130 million people coming to faith in Christ.

OMF International recently celebrated its 150th anniversary and invited Keith and Kristyn Getty to re-visit Houghton’s much loved, and still timely hymn. Though Keith and Kristyn are thrilled to be a part of this historic event, and will use it as the title track of their next project (2016), all composing and publishing royalties from the updated song will be donated to OMF International in support of their continued work in perpetuity.

Keith Getty says,

Songs have the ability to unite and move us as groups. Frank Houghton understood this and in response to great turmoil in China, turned to writing hymns to encourage those who were witnessing martyrdom around them. ‘Facing a Task Unfinished’ provided inspiration to a generation of missionaries when it was first written, and it urges us on still, even as we also live amid persecution and martyrdom, both at home and around the world today. Into these situations the call of Christ and His Kingdom is our only hope. His gospel is the window of light pouring into the darkened corners of this world. He is the good news we must sing and bring.

Here are the lyrics to Facing a Task Unfinished:

Facing a task unfinished
That drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished
Rebukes our slothful ease
We, who rejoice to know Thee
Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee
To go and make Thee known

Where other lords beside Thee
Hold their unhindered sway
Where forces that defied Thee
Defy Thee still today
With none to heed their crying
For life, and love, and light
Unnumbered souls are dying
And pass into the night

We go to all the world
With kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save
But Jesus Christ The Lord

We bear the torch that flaming
Fell from the hands of those
Who gave their lives proclaiming
That Jesus died and rose
Ours is the same commission
The same glad message ours
Fired by the same ambition
To Thee we yield our powers

We go to all the world
With kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save
But Jesus Christ The Lord

O Father who sustained them
O Spirit who inspired
Saviour, whose love constrained them
To toil with zeal untired
From cowardice defend us
From lethargy awake!
Forth on Thine errands send us
To labour for Thy sake

We go to all the world
With kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save
But Jesus Christ The Lord

We go to all the world
His kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save
But Jesus Christ The Lord

Original Words by Frank Houghton. Original Music by Samuel Wesley. New Words and Music by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Ed Cash, and Fionan de Barra; © 2015 OMF International, Getty Music Publishing (BMI), Alletrop Music (BMI), and Fionan de Barra (all admin. By MusicServices.org)

The Gettys have made several resources available to help your church participate. OMF has also provided a registration page for your church’s participation. Let us never forget that, until every nation, tribe, tongue, and language has heard the gospel, we face a task unfinished.

Some information in this post was adapted from the OMF press release.

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., is a professor and dean at Wheaton College where he also serves as Executive Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, has earned two master’s degrees and two doctorates, and has written hundreds of articles and a dozen books. He is Regional Director for Lausanne North America, is the editor-in-chief of Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited in, interviewed by, and writes for news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He is the Founding Editor of The Gospel Project, a curriculum used by more than 1.7 million individuals each week for bible story. His national radio show, Ed Stetzer Live, airs Saturdays on Moody Radio and affiliates. He serves as interim teaching pastor of Calvary Church in New York City and serves as teaching pastor at Highpoint Church.