In Australia, we’re used to Christmas done different. Snow covering the landscape? Try, sand at the beach! Crackling fire? Try, a backyard BBQ! Carols at the door? Try, at a huge outdoor music bowl. Vision180’s Mel chatted with Aussie singer Joel Smallbone, half of the award-winning Christian duo, For King and Country, about doing a Christmas album differently. (Ok, yeah, we know this is May, but we won’t let that stop us reflecting on the one time of the year when our society still pays a tiny bit of attention to Jesus. Like we said, it’s Christmas done different here in Oz.)
Joel spoke about how hard last year was. 2020 ‘created, fortunately and unfortunately, a margin for us to really take a Christmas album seriously and dig in deep… Christmas is such a beautiful, nostalgic, powerful time.’
While the usual channels for producing music were disrupted, the band still managed to get everything done. ‘I think it became an international record before it was even released,’ Joel said. ‘We’re all based in Nashville, and we found a studio that we could divide and conquer in all different rooms. Then the record was taken over to Copenhagen for some of the orchestral stuff… it bounced to Los Angeles for some of the horns, and then over to London for mixing. I think it ended up in New York for mastering.’
We’re a cog… there’s a bigger story and a load of people that need to contribute, but we can try and do our small part.
God at work in unusual circumstances is evident in the Christmas story itself. Joel explored that aspect with Mel. Discussing the song, Heavenly Hosts, Joel let us know that it paid homage to some of the unsung heroes of the Christmas story. ‘The shepherds are fascinating… they worked overnight and slept through the day, they didn’t have much of a social life, they were out in the elements and it was very hard and very dangerous… for the first public proclamation that God was coming to earth would be to, for all intents and purposes, ‘low-lives’, is such a beautiful, upside-down way to do it.’
’I really feel that there’s a big turning-of-the-page on the world stage for artists… medical workers are exhausted, therapists are exhausted, world-leaders are exhausted, pastors are exhausted… now, it’s the duty of the artist community to help keep together and heal the globe,’ Joel said. ‘We’re a cog… there’s a bigger story and a load of people that need to contribute, but we can try and do our small part.’
Joel’s words are a strong reminder to all of us—‘But we can try and do our small part.’ Your name may not be recognised globally, but God knows exactly who you are—and exactly how He can work through you to uplift Him and His people.
Despite how unusual your circumstances may be, God will always find a way for His plan in your life to prevail. He will appear to the shepherds among us, the artists, and the students—whoever you are—and He will recognise and use your wonderful qualities to unify and build His Kingdom.
Listen to the Christmas album below