Christian musicians Keith and Kristyn Getty have said they are humbled and grateful to be given the freedom of the borough of Lisburn and Castlereagh.
The honour was conferred upon the couple who split their time between the north coast of Northern Ireland and Nashville, USA at a meeting of council on Tuesday evening.
Keith, who grew up in Lisburn attending Pond Park Primary School and Friends, said: “Kristyn and I are absolutely thrilled to have been awarded the Freedom of the Borough of Lisburn and Castlereagh.
“It is incredibly humbling to be recognised by our home town in this way.
“So much of our music was born in Lisburn – from deepest influences and education, to all the earliest songs and performances.
“Although we now reside in the USA, we still feel a deep connection with Lisburn and Northern Ireland. We are truly grateful.”
The proposal was made by unionist councillors Allan Ewart (DUP) and Tim Mitchell (UUP).
Mr Ewart said: “From an early age it was evident that he was musical, learning to play the flute at 11 and the classical guitar at the age of 12.
“In the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2017, he was awarded the OBE for his contribution to Christian music.
“The couple have written many songs over the years, the most famous being ‘In Christ Alone’. It is reported that their songs are sung by over 100 million people per year.
“This is an amazing feat for a local man and his wife from our city.
“Last month they packed out the SSE Arena for a concert attended by over 8,000 people and just last week in the Bridgestone Arena Nashville, at the Sing Nashville event they sang to over 13,000 pastors and Christian workers.
“They have performed in the Royal Albert Hall, Carnegie Hall, the John F Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts and also for President George Bush.
“It gives me great pleasure to propose the freedom of our city to local man Keith Getty and his wife Kristyn for their outstanding contribution to Christian music across the world.”
DUP MLA Paul Givan said he was delighted the honour would be bestowed on Keith and Kristyn Getty.
He commented: “Keith was a neighbour of mine and a proud native of Lisburn who attended Pond Park Primary and Friends Grammar School.
“Together they have made a huge contribution to the arts and churches around the world as modern hymn writers with 100 million people singing their songs every year.”
A second freedom of the borough motion was put forward at the same meeting by James Baird (UUP) and Tim Morrow (Alliance) to recognise the outstanding contribution to the council area of Alderman Jim Dillon MBE, and former elected representatives Geraldine Rice and Tommy Jeffers.
Together they have contributed 98 years to council service.
Mayor Alan Givan said: “This will be a great honour for both the council and the individuals involved. It is very important that, as the local authority, we publicly acknowledge the significant achievements of our residents who have a lifetime of public service both locally and globally.”