Joey + Rory's Bittersweet 'Hymns' Debuts at No. 1 on Top Country Albums Chart

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Joey and Rory Lee Feek perform during the Academy of Country Music Awards rehearsals on April 15, 2010 in Las Vegas.

Joey + Rory's Hymns bows atop Billboard's Top Country Albums chart (dated March 5). The inspirational country album sold 68,000 copies in the sales week ending Feb. 18, according to Nielsen Music. On the multigenre Billboard 200, the LP debuts at No. 4 (with 70,000 in consumption). It also opens at No. 1 on Top Christian Albums.

The duo's debut is bittersweet. Joey and Rory Feek married in 2002 and have one daughter, Indiana, who just turned 2 years old on Feb. 17. In 2014, Joey began chemotherapy for stage-four cervical cancer. She relapsed in 2015, with the cancer being deemed terminal. Electing to cease treatments, Feek is currently under hospice care at the family's home.

"No one is more surprised that our Hymns record has sold this many copies than Joey and I," Rory tells Billboard. "For the last few months, we've been in Indiana, far away from the music business, living and sharing the story of our personal journey through my blog. We haven't been promoting our careers at all. The only way I can explain the sales of this record is that it's a byproduct of something bigger: love."

Joey + Rory Aiming for First No. 1 on Top Country Albums & Christian Albums Charts

The sales week easily marks the pair's strongest. Previously, Joey + Rory tallied seven appearances on Top Country Albums, including two top 10s: The Life of a Song (No. 10 peak in 2008) and Album Number Two (No. 9, 2010). The Life of a Song represented the act's prior best weekly sales total: 8,000 upon its debut (Nov. 15, 2008).

'DOWN' IS UP Vince Gill collects his 15th top 10 on Top Country Albums, as Down to My Last Bad Habit starts at No. 4 (17,000 sold). Gill co-wrote and co-produced all 12 tracks on the set, which includes guest appearances from artists including Little Big Town, the featured act on launch single "Take Me Down," which holds at No. 60 on Country Airplay.

NO JOKE: Also on Top Country Albums is the first top 10 debut for a comedy set in nine years. Wheeler Walker's irreverent Redneck Shit, his first entry on the chart, arrives at No. 9 (6,000). The most recent comedy LP to bow in the top 10 was Larry the Cable Guy's 2007 LP Morning Constitutions (No. 5, 56,000).

This article first appeared in Billboard's Country Update -- sign up here.