I am so thrilled beyond words to be releasing my first Christmas album! You know, the writing process surprises me every single time but this time just felt extra special to me. Bits and pieces of themes began to come to me as early as January of this year. Songwriting is this intriguing process of bringing order to thoughts and themes and one thing I’ve learned to do over the years is to pray as the songs are in their infancy…that God will literally breathe life into them from the very beginning.
The thing that moves and inspires me the most as a songwriter is when I discover, yet again, that God Himself is incredibly creative. When I somehow uncover what appears to be great and thoughtful intentionality on His part…nothing compels me more. I spent a lot of time retracing the family tree of Jesus…our family tree. This fragile family, that He called His very own, was complete with thieves and harlots, liars and backstabbers. When you read over the chosen line that Christ came from, that we came from, you realize that hope has been the theme from the very beginning.
Beautifully illustrating the hope of Jesus, in the form of new life, you’ll notice the cover art is a “Red Lion” Christmas Amaryllis, designed by the lovely Lindsey Pruitt. You’ll also notice in the track listing a song called “Amaryllis”. This all started with some gorgeous imagery that my sister-in-law, Kristin Hill, penned in a letter to me for my November birthday a few years ago…a letter that accompanied a simple, white ceramic pot. Little did I know, there was so much beauty that would unfold from within it, just in time for Christmas! See, it was both a winter of season and of soul for me, that particular year. Sometimes it’s those who know you best who can speak in at just the right time and say just the right thing that your aching heart needs to hear. This is an excerpt of Kristin’s “Amaryllis Prayers” to me that day which inspired the cover art and what is now my favorite song on this album….
“The winter is beautiful under its blanket of white but it is cold and harsh to the living thing determined to grow. Everyone knows that the season for blooming is in the warmth of the new spring. It’s gentle breezes and warm sun send a message to a sleeping world that all things are becoming new. It would take great courage to grow and bloom in the bitterness of winter. There is no welcoming afternoon sun, no invitation to rest in the gentle breeze, no rush of new life in the surrounding soil. But…there are the rare and beautiful treasures that choose to bloom when the conditions are the darkest. In the bleakness of winter, the Amaryllis will spring up, pushing through the soil, displaying the beauty it was created to share. It bears life and growth and has beauty coursing through every inside part. It cannot and will not wait for the gentleness of spring. The Amaryllis does not bloom because the conditions are perfect. The conditions are, in fact, counter-intuitive to new life. The Amaryllis blooms in winter even still.” – Kristin Hill
Everyday I waited with anticipation for something, anything, to break through the soil of that ceramic pot. Finally one day a tiny, green shoot pushed through. As I watched it grow taller and taller through that Christmas season and gloriously bloom, I’d find myself pondering on Jesus. He certainly didn’t arrive when conditions were perfect, in fact, He arrived in the midst of a silence and a winter that the world had never known…and to quote the song,
“just when we thought that we’d never see spring, Heaven gave a King!”
As I’ve shared the significance of the Amaryllis with different people along this journey, the response has been amazing. In fact, several people have told me stories of how their relatives or friends store their Amaryllis bulbs in the darkest, coldest corners of their basements because they somehow store more energy this way. It’s just this gorgeous picture, yet again, of God’s intentionality and creativity in a simple, house plant! His beauty and glory and His story, are all around us! When conditions were darkest, just when we least expected it, His love broke through and He shined! And this very same life, He offers to us…no matter how dark and bleak our condition may be, we too can surprise the night. We bloom and shine despite the darkness, displaying “the thrill of hope” to a sleeping world all around us!
If there’s anything I’ve been surprised by on this Christmas journey, it’s that this story is worth telling, yet again! There are still those who have never heard, those who have yet to see. Even if I could be a part of telling the story in such a way that one soul might know its worth this Christmas, one heart experiencing the hope of Jesus for the first time…it would all be worth it. Maybe it’s one son or daughter hearing the song for the first time…the song that is calling them home!
– Christy Nockels
As a special sneak peak for All-Access Members, here is the Track List for The Thrill of Hope!
- The King is Coming Prelude
- Advent Hymn
- O Come O Come Emmanuel
- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/O Come Let Us Adore Him
- Angels’ Lullaby (Mary’s Song)
- Song In the Air (featuring Chris McClarney)
- Dance at Migdal Eder
- Wrap This One Up
- O Holy Night
- Silent Night (Holding Us Now)
- Our Christmas Song/Make Good Your Christmas Day
- Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
- Joy to The World/The King is Coming