Jean Watson Makes God's Love Accessible this Christmas with Her New Record

Jean Watson

Internationally acclaimed, award-winning singer/songwriter/recording artist Jean Watson has released her highly anticipated new Christmas album, Behold: Carols of Worship. The new project, a six-song EP, is a collection of her favorite traditional classic carols, freshly arranged by Watson as part of a sumptuous worship experience. 

Q: Jean, congratulations on the release of your new Christmas record, Behold: Carols of Christmas. Why release a Christmas album?

Thank you so much! I love Christmas music, and I always seem to be finding more carols and Christmas songs I want to record. One of my favorite things to do is breathe new life into older, more obscure carols. 

Q: What inspired you do to another Christmas record? 

I realized that this year marks the 20th anniversary of my very first Christmas album, recorded in 2003. That first little recording, entitled Christmas Presence, was a turning point in my life and an answer to prayer. I had recently gone through a painful divorce and was really struggling emotionally, spiritually, and financially. I was carrying so much shame and regret, and I prayed that God would forgive me for my past and give me a fresh start in life. Shortly after that, a friend asked me to record some Christmas carols for her as a gift.

So, I made a very low-tech recording which was playing in the house when our landlord came to bring us a Christmas tree. When he heard the music, he asked me who was singing. I told him it was me, and he simply sat down and wept! He was moved by the sound of my voice and told me that he thought singing was what I was supposed to be doing with my life. He actually gave me my rent money back and told me to go make a CD!  

So, I recorded "Christmas Presence" and gave it away to anyone who would listen. Soon I was receiving invitations to sing and speak for churches and ladies' groups and over time, a ministry was born. Over the years, I ended up recording eleven more albums with some of the finest musicians in the world. Eventually, my music opened doors for me to sing and speak in the UK and Ireland where my ministry is still based today. During those twenty years of ministry, I saw the Lord work in so many lives as I shared the gospel through music and my testimony.

This year, I decided to record an EP called Behold: Carols of Worship to commemorate that Christmas miracle twenty years ago and all that He has done since then. I re-imagined two of the original 2003 songs and added a few more that I had always wanted to sing. So, this music is very personally meaningful to me!  

Q: With so many carols, how did you narrow down your choices for this record? 

A: Yes, there are so many wonderful carols to choose from! The ones I chose for Behold were songs that were on my personal "bucket list." I had always wanted to sing "Come Thou Long-expected Jesus" and ended up writing a new chorus for it. The new chorus really turns the old hymn into a worshipful prayer, and the arrangement is energetic and engaging.  

"Gesu Bambino" was another one that I had always wanted to sing. I had listened to David Archuleta sing it with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and thought, "I can do that!" It is a challenging song to sing because it has a large range, but I think the Celtic arrangement we came up with suits me perfectly. 

"The Holly and the Ivy" is a very old carol that I personally love. I wanted the song to remind the listener of church bells and choirs without being too classical. Then I added a fiddle part to really make it my own! It's very sweet and folksy while retaining its traditional roots. 

"Sweet Little Jesus Boy" is a song I have often performed in concerts but never recorded. Tyler Smith {Michael W. Smith's son} did a masterful string arrangement for it that is simply timeless! This one is reminiscent of the classic recordings of the 50's and 60's and sounds like it could be on a playlist with Dean Martin or Bing Crosby. 

"I Wonder As I Wonder" and "French Carol" were two of my favorites from my 2003 album, and I wanted to re-record them to give them fresh life and a new audience. Producer Jonathan Crone helped create the ethereal, celestial backdrop for "French Carol" which is a gem from the 13th century. This lullaby for the infant Jesus is sung in English and then in French. Translated, the lyrics speak of the "thousands of divine angels and thousands of seraphim which fly all around this great God of love." This one moves the heart! 

"I Wonder As I Wander" is one I recorded with a very simple piano accompaniment twenty years ago. It was beautiful back then but went off the charts on the new album when Tyler Smith added an exquisite string arrangement. It is cinematic and so worshipful! 

Q: What was it like to have Jonathan Crone (Dolly Parton, Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Danny Gokey) as your producer? What do you appreciate most about his involvement? 

Jonathan has worked with me for many years as a programmer and a guitarist. He knows my voice and my sound inside and out so was a great fit in the role of producer. Jonathan is so talented and endlessly creative! He has a knack for knowing just what is needed to make a song come alive. In addition, he can play so many instruments really, really well. So, if a part was needed on mandolin, guitar, keys, or even vocals, he jumped right in! I feel so privileged to be able to work with this rising Nashville star.

Q: You also have Phil Keaggy on the album. Tell us more about Phil's involvement and how you felt working with him.

Phil has been gracious enough to record with me on many projects over the years. This is another collaboration that is pure joy for me. He is so creative and intuitive, and he always seems to know exactly what to add to each song. I think his guitar playing is a perfect fit for my voice and violin.  

Q: I love your take on "French Carol" and "Gesu Bambino." They are not the most obvious covers; why did you record them? 

I discovered "French Carol" in an old hymnal years ago. but I have never heard it sung by anyone, anywhere, so of course I wanted to sing it! I also speak French fluently, so I loved having the chance to sing a little bit in that beautiful language.  

I was less familiar with "Gesu Bambino", but I thought the melody and harmonies were so intriguing. Every time I heard it, I would think to myself, "I need to sing that 'Gesu' song!" 

Q: Speaking about Christmas, what does the season mean to you personally?

Christmas to me speaks of the "accessibility" of God's love for all who will receive it. The manger is a physical picture of the grace of God! Jesus was born as a vulnerable baby in the lowest place to show us that we can always come into his presence without fear. He is called Emmanuel, God with us! Though the Lord doesn't promise us a pain-free life, the Christmas story reminds us that God is with us in all of our struggles and can bring His glory where we least expect it, just as He did in Bethlehem so long ago.  

For more information about Jean Watson and Behold: Carols of Worship, or to purchase the project, visit To stream the Behold project, click here, or listen on your favorite streaming platform. To watch the "Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus" lyric video, click here. Follow Jean Watson on Facebook

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