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Keith Green: Christian Music Legend

Updated on June 20, 2014

Keith Green: His Music, Ministry, and Legacy

My mom hung up the phone and broke into tears. She had just heard the news of Keith Green's death. I was only ten on that summer day in 1982, but the memory is still clear. It felt almost like a death in the family. We often listened to Keith Green's music and it has permeated deep into me. Even now when I read the story of the prodigal son, I hear his "Prodigal Son Suite" in my mind. I can't read about the Israelites wandering in the desert without chuckling over his goofy manna improvisation in "So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt" (Ba-manna Bread!). Even now, about three decades later, Keith Green is one of the most-played artists in my iTunes library. My kids and I dance to his "Scripture Song Medley." Every Easter, I play "The Easter Song" and "The Victor" as soon as I wake up. Read on for more about Keith Green's music, his ministry and his enduring legacy.

Ever heard of Keith Green?

Before landing here, had you heard of Keith Green?

Of course! He's a Christian music luminary.

Of course! He's a Christian music luminary.

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    • anonymous 3 years ago

      Keith Green was so spirit filled his songs touched me deeply every time I listen to them... I too was so sad that day he died, I remember vividly and volunteered at Last Days that following Dec. for a week. I believe he was sent by God to do just what he did.. Praise the Lord.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      When I became a born again Christian in 1984, Keith Green's music was one of the first I was introduced to on Christian radio KCFB; his music greatly ministered to me in my growth as a new Christian, so much so, that I bought his album.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      When I became a born again Christian in 1984 Keith Green's music was one of the first albums I was introduced to on Christian radio KCFB and I Loved his music, his music greatly ministered to me in my growth walk as a new Christian, so much so, that I purchased his album.

    • ccsonian 5 years ago

      Yes, I have enjoyed his music since the late 80's.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      Yes, the best musical Evangilism ever!

    • Gayle 5 years ago from McLaughlin

      Yes--I have heard a few of his songs--but I didn't know much about him!

    • christopherwell 5 years ago

      I had most of his record albums (and now, CDs).

    • Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      I attended a Keith Green concert. His ministry was powerful.

    • SnoopyGirl1 6 years ago

      Yes, he was amazing. I discovered his music right around the time of his death. It amazes me how his music and ministry is still touching people today some 30 years after his death. I read his book and it was powerful. Thanks for sharing.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      I love that phrase, "He's a Christian music luminary", just wanted to say it out loud. I still have Keith Green cassette's from the old days. There's so much revelation knowledge and intimacy in his music and then there's also the playful fun.

    • anonymous 6 years ago

      Yes! Love him! I discovered him after he'd gone on to glory!

    • Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

      Yes. I was even fortunate enough to go to one of his concerts. He was so clever on that piano!

    Keith who?

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      • religions7 6 years ago

        Being Dutch, and not raised Christian, I guess it's only natural I had not heard of this guy. Sounds like a true inspiration though. I like it when spirituality and humor come together.

      The Victor - My Easter Morning Tradition

      News Flash!

      Melody Green has announced that a feature film about Keith Green's life is in the works.

      Keith Green Discography

      Keith gave away his albums, through mail order, for the price of "whatever you can afford." If I recall, there was a suggested price of seven dollars. When his casettes were sold in Christian book and record stores, they were often in a two pack--one to keep and one to give to a friend. Here is his discography. Unfortunately, you can't get the albums for free any more.

      For Him Who Has Ears to Hear - Released in May 1977

      While Keith Green had released some music as a child (at one time he was being groomed to be a child pop star) and had worked with other Christian artists like Second Chapter of Acts, this was first solo offering as a Christian musician. "You Put This Love in My Heart" is my favorite track, and now my kids love it too since it has been covered by the Veggie Tales characters on their worship album.

      When I Hear the Praises Start - Another Favorite from "For Him Who Has Ears to Hear"

      No Compromise - Released in November 1978

      No Compromise, Keith Green's second Christian album is named after a line from "Make My Life a Prayer to You," a song written by his wife, Melody. That's my favorite song on this album. A close second is "Asleep in the Light," which is a hard-hitting call for the church to do more to reach the world with the gospel. "Jesus rose from the dead, and you can't even get out of bed." Ouch.

      Make My Life a Prayer to You - My favorite track from "No Compromise"

      So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt - Released in May 1980

      This album marks two significant changes for Keith Green. One is that he had just bought out his contract from Sparrow Records so that he could implement his "whatever you can afford" pricing plan for his music. The other is his deeper understanding and sharing of God's grace. He still sang the challenging songs from earlier albums, but added to them such numbers as "Unless the Lord Builds the House" and "Grace by Which I Stand." My favorite song from this album is "Oh Lord, You're Beautiful."

      Oh Lord, You're Beautiful - My favorite from "So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt"

      A rough version of the classic worship song. This was recorded live the same week Keith Green wrote it. The lyrics changed a lot between this recording and the album.

      Songs for the Shepherd - Released in April 1982

      This was the last album Keith Green released before he died. It is mostly worship songs and includes a beautiful version of the old hymn, "Holy Holy Holy." My favorite lines on the album come from the song, "There Is a Redeemer."

      "When I stand in glory

      I will see His face

      And there I'll serve my King forever

      In that holy place.

      There Is a Redeemer

      I can't think of a better worship song to the triune God. "Thank you O my Father for giving us your Son, and leaving your Spirit till the work on earth is done."

      The Prodigal Son - Released in August 1983

      This is the first album of Keith Green's music released after his death. Opening with "I Can't Wait to Get to Heaven" and closing with "Song for Josiah" (Josiah was one of Keith's children who died with him in the plane crash), this album is a poignant reminder of how brief life on earth is and of the joy that awaits in heaven.

      I Can't Wait to Get to Heaven - Released not long after Keith Green's death

      "Thoughts of heaven somehow seem to fil my mind. But I can't even imagine what it is I'm going to find."

      Jesus Commands Us to Go! - Released in July 1984

      Another posthumous release, this album highlights Keith Green's keen interest near the end of his life in challenging Christians to support or participate in global missions. My favorite song on this album is "Run to the End of the Highway."

      Jesus Commands Us to Go! - A challenging track from the album of the same name

      Other Keith Green Albums - Compilations with some live and previously unreleased music

      "The Keith Green Collection," released in 1981, is composed of previously released material except for "Rushing Wind," "The Sheep and the Goats," and "Scripture Song Medley." I challenge you to listen to the medley without smiling or dancing.

      "I Only Want to See You There, " released in 1983, is mostly previously released material with a few live tracks. My favorite track from this album is the live version of "If You Love the Lord." This album is hard to find these days.

      "The Ministry Years" is a two volume set of two CDs each. They cover Keith Green's music from 1977 to 1979, and from 1980 to 1982, respectively. They contain five previously unreleased songs, none of which, to be honest, particularly impress me. Still, these two albums make a fine and fairly thorough introduction to Keith Green for people who don't have his other albums.

      "The Greatest Hits," released to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Keith Green's death, contains 18 tracks including a previously unreleased live version of "He'll Take Care of the Rest" and a new song called "Your Love Came Over Me," a nice rock number.

      "The Live Experience" contains 16 live recordings from TV appearances, concerts and festivals.

      The Ultimate Collection - If you could only have one Keith Green album, this is the one.

      This album has 18 of Keith Green's best songs from his five years or so of recording. It also comes with a DVD about his life and ministry. Did you know that he rented several homes in his southern California neighborhood as shelters and halfway houses for addicts, unwed mothers, and the homeless? You'll learn that and more from the DVD.

      Of course if you could have two Keith Green albums, go with the two double disc volumes of "The Ministry Years." They contain everything from his major albums and a few other songs.

      Keith Green Sheet Music - Play and sing great worship music.

      Many of Keith Green's songs are surprising simple to play on guitar or piano. For some reason the amazon listings on the sheet music don't say what songs the books contain. You can look at the discography above to see which songs come from which albums, or just get the two volumes of "MInistry Years." They have most all of his songs, including all the more well known ones.

      Keith Green The Ministry Years Vol.1
      Keith Green The Ministry Years Vol.1

      38 of his greatest hits, including: Because of You * My Eyes Are Dry * There Is a Redeemer * Your Love Broke Through * and more.

       
      Keith Green The Ministry Years 1980-1982 Vol 2 songbook
      Keith Green The Ministry Years 1980-1982 Vol 2 songbook

      Keith Green is one of the pioneers of Contemporary Christian Music. His style focused on the youth of the church. This album covers his ministry years from 1980-1982. The collection matches the recording on Sparrow Records.

       
      Keith Green The Greatest Hits
      Keith Green The Greatest Hits

      Our 18-song collection matches the CD commemorating the 25th anniversary of this tragic event. Includes: Asleep in the Light * Oh Lord, You're Beautiful * My Eyes Are Dry * There Is a Redeemer * and more of his greatest hits.

       
      Keith Green The Ultimate Collection (Piano/Vocal/Guitar Artist Songbook)
      Keith Green The Ultimate Collection (Piano/Vocal/Guitar Artist Songbook)

      Our 20-song P/V/G collection matches Sparrow's latest compilation CD of the late, great Keith Green, who died in a plane crash in 1982. Includes: Asleep in the Light * I Can't Believe It * I Want to Be More like Jesus * Jesus Commands Us to Go * Make My Life a Prayer to You * My Eyes Are Dry * Oh Lord, You're Beautiful * Pledge My Head to Heaven * Rushing Wind * Soften Your Heart * There Is a Redeemer * You Are the One * You! * Your Love Broke Through * and more.

       

      Keith Green Tribute Albums - Covers of Keith Green Songs

      Today's Christian musicians recognize Keith Green as a pioneer, almost a legend in the genre. Many have covered his songs and to date, three tribute albums have been released.

      "No Compromise: Remembering the Music of Keith Green" was released in 1993. Well-known contemporary Christian artists cover their favorite Keith Green songs. My two favorite songs are "You Are the One" performed by Rich Mullins, and "Make My Life a Prayer to You," performed by Melody Green, who actually wrote the song for her husband to perform. This album is hard to find these days, but you can buy it at iTunes. See below.

      "Start Right Here: Remembering the Life of Keith Green," released in 2001, contains covers by Christian alternative and techno artists.

      "Your Love Broke Through," released in 2002, is a tribute album by contemporary Christian artists and worship leaders. "Lord, I'm Gonna Love You," performed by Chris Tomlin, and "Make My Life a Prayer to you" performed by Matt Redman, are gems.

      There are too many Keith Green covers out there for me to discuss here (even if I knew about them all), but I mentioned the Veggie Tales version of "You Put This Love in My Heart" above, so check out the preview below!

      last days ministries logo
      last days ministries logo

      Keith Green's Articles and Sermons

      Last Days Magazine

      In addition to recording and performing music, Keith Green and his wife, Melody, ran Last Days Ministries, a ministry that, among other endeavors, published Last Days Newsletter (later renamed Last Days Magazine). It featured original content from the Greens and their network of friends, as well as reprints of sermons and essays from generations past.

      One Last Days Magazine article I remember reading was about honesty in the little things. The author (I think it was Keith Green but can't remember for sure) suggested that people who cheat and steal in small ways refrain from cheating and stealing in big ways not because of conscience but because the potential shame and punishment are worse. Last Days Ministries ceased operations for a while but is active again now under the leadership of Melody Green. Many of the old articles are available on the web site.

      Visit Last Days Ministries Online

      www.lastdaysministries.com

      No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green - Biography by His Wife, Melody

      I enjoy reading as much or more as the next guy, which is to say that it generally takes a week or two to get through a book. I read this 400+ page biography in one long sitting, stopping to eat but not to sleep. I finished it early in the morning. It's that good of a book.

      Melody Green drew on her own conversations and experiences with her husband, as well as from his detailed journal entries to write this intimate biography. The most recent edition (which I have not read) is updated with "new photos, essays from current musicians who were influenced by Keith, selections from Keith's private journal, and stories about what it was like raising their two remaining children on her own." (from the amazon.com editorial review)

      Keith Green 28.28.28
      Keith Green 28.28.28

      28.28.28

      Web Event on the 28th Anniversary of Keith Green's Death

      Keith Green died at age 28 on July 28, 1982. On July 28, 2010 (28 years later) a live web event (called 28.28.28) was broadcast from University of the Nations in Kona, Hawaii. It featured concert and speaking footage of Keith Green as well as live speakers, including melody Green, and worship in Hawaii. The event is archived on vimeo.com in three parts.

      Keith Green 28.28.28 part 1

      Keith Green 28.28.28 Part 2

      Keith Green 28.28.28 Part 3

      If you were already a Keith Green fan, I hope this page stirred up some good memories. If you are new to his music and ministry, I encourage you to explore Keith Green's music and check out some of his articles at lastdaysministires.com.

      Please join the conversation. Do you have a favorite Keith Green quote or song? A memory from a concert? Comments about this page? Here's the place to share!">

      Thanks for reading!

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        • ccsonian profile image

          ccsonian 5 years ago

          No Compromise :)

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          Gayle 5 years ago from McLaughlin

          Loved this well done tribute to Keith Green's music and message. Very inspirational! Squid Angel Blessed.

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          Cynthia Sylvestermouse 5 years ago from United States

          A tremendous talent and blessing for each of us. I know he was embraced by the Lamb and the angels heralded his homecoming. No doubt, he is still praising our Lord with his songs.

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          BlenderHead LM 6 years ago

          Great lens for a great guy! Even I as a younger guy do like a bit of Keith Green's music :)

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          BGLJane 6 years ago

          I loved Keith Green's music. Some artists have taken his songs and remixed them..and that is OK too. Please check out our new music at www.meredogmusic.com.

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          Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

          It was wonderful to revisit the impact of Keith Green tonight. Thank you for bringing me back to his music and ministry. I used to listen to his music quite a bit.

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          sagebrushmama 6 years ago

          Good work! Keith Green's music challenges me!

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          Jeremy 6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

          @Nightowl John: Thank you, John. Keith Green was very popular in his lifetime but has had an even bigger impact after his death.

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          Nightowl John 6 years ago

          Very nicely done. I enjoy his music quite a bit, even though I discovered him after his passing. "Squid Angel" blessed.

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          Jeremy 6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

          @anonymous: And thank you for stopping by here again. I did notice the Keith Green songs on your birthday lens, and I'm glad to hear that you are in a Keith Green revival.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          That was so sweet of you to stop by to say happy birthday, I'm still smiling! Did you notice that Sue added a couple Keith Green songs as a part of my birthday present this year. Actually, you have me in a bit of a Keith Green revival. I dug up my tapes, perhaps it's time to break down an get C.D.'s. I remember feeling so blessed and overwhelmed to get the tapes for what I could afford and the folks at the table insisted I get all there were. Sometimes we just have to open our hands and humbly receive. Blessings on your life sir....

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          Lynne Modranski 6 years ago from Ohio

          Thanks for sharing about this pioneer in the Contemporary Christian Music realm. Great tribute!

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          GLORY!!!! PRAISE TO THE AWESOME GOD, OUR FATHER, TO JESUS HIS GLORIOUS SON AND THE PRECIOUS HOLY SPIRIT!

          Hello Mr. Jeremy, you have me in tears here with the sweetness of the power of God, glory! Susie is my sister, guess you know her as Tipi and she lensrolled this to a lens she did for my birthday to bless me. I think she will have to feature it there as well--I can make special requests as I do have an in with her. Now on to Keith..

          Keith Greens songs have been going through me heavy duty for the last couple weeks, so when I saw this my spirit actually lept! I do have a story that you may have heard before, if you havn't heard it before, feel free to use it here, it is powerful.

          After Keith went on to glory I attended a memorial concert in Grand forks North Dakota that was hosted, by Buck Herring--he and Annie were close friends with Keith and Melodie. (Annie is another amazing minister of the graces of God in music)

          Buck shared how he went to the crash crash site and as we meditated, he told Father that, if He wanted to, He could collect the very ashes of Keith's earthly body and bring him back--Buck knew that God could do that in a moment and had said it in reverence and with a pleading heart full of love and loss...........Father replied tenderly, "Keith don't want to come back!"

          Blessings on your head,

          Shelly

          Proverbs 10:6

          I'd give this 10 thumbs up if I could, but I'm not a Squidoo member--so, know that this pleases Father's heart. I loved your little story of running out of Keith's concert in tears, you certainly never could forget about him after that.

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          Jeremy 6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

          @anonymous: Wow. Thanks for your kind words, Shelly and Tipi. I'm glad this lens was a blessing.

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          This is an amazing labor of love by you and I loved every moment here. Keith's gift still brings us right into the presense of God.

          I am lensrolling to two of my lenses, thank you and may the blessings of God overtake you again and again!

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          Jeanette 6 years ago from Australia

          Great lens. Keith Geen was one of my favourites. We have several albums of his. Now I'm going to have to pull them out and have another listen :-)

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          anonymous 6 years ago

          I remember your family recommending to read the book his wife wrote about him after his death. I read it...I wept...and was so inspired. I think the first time I ever heard one of his songs was in your parents home. There is something ...I'm not sure...maybe the word is "anointed" ...about his music. It makes my heart soft and eager to put the Lord first.

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          Jeremy 6 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

          @WhitU4ever: Glad you like the lens. I listened Keith Green music nonstop while I was building the lens and watched lots of video footage. It reminded me me again of what a special person he was.

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          WhitU4ever 6 years ago

          Fantastic lens! Keith Green was the first musician I enjoyed when I was born again forty years ago. His message is just as relevant today as it ever was.

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          JoyfulPamela2 6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

          I have to admit that when I clicked on this page, Mr. Green's name struck a bell, but I couldn't exactly place it. After listening to some of the videos, I realized I have sung and played many of his songs in worship. I guess I'm just not good at remembering names! Thank you for putting together this wonderful collection of his good work done for the LORD! I will need to look for sheet music of Mr. Green's to play. :-D