~ Internationally Acclaimed, Award-Winning Recording Artist Jean Watson Releases Highly Anticipated New Christmas Album, “Behold: Carols of Worship” with Special Guest, Phil Keaggy ~
Internationally acclaimed, award-winning singer/songwriter/recording artist Jean Watson has released her highly anticipated new Christmas album, Behold: Carols of Worship.
2023 marks Watson’s twentieth year of music ministry and commemorates a very special story in her life.
In 2003, Watson’s landlord accidentally heard her singing Christmas carols and, overcome with emotion, gave her rent money back to her and told her to use it to record her first album.
“I gave that little CD away to anyone who would listen,” Watson remembers. “Soon, a ministry was born that would take me all over the world sharing the love of Christ through words and music!”
The new project, a six-song EP which released on November 24, 2023, is a collection of her favorite traditional classic carols, freshly arranged by Watson as part of a sumptuous worship experience.
Grammy-winning producer Jonathan Crone (Dolly Parton, Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Danny Gokey) expertly brings her ideas to life, and gorgeous string arrangements from Tyler Smith (Michael W. Smith) shine on several of the songs.
Listeners are also treated to a guest appearance from Watson’s long-time collaborator, ASCAP and Dove Award winner Phil Keaggy, on electric guitar.
“I am thrilled to share this new music with the world!” says Watson. “My prayer is that these worshipful carols inspire us all to pause and behold all that God has done for all of us through the Christmas season and into the new year.”
Songs on Behold: Carols of Worship include:
1 – “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” is Watson’s brand-new contemporary arrangement of the old Charles Wesley advent hymn, “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus.” She added a new chorus to turn it into a worship song. The accompanying lyric video shows the places Jesus lived in Israel using actual Google Earth footage and visually brings the powerful chorus of the song to life: Come shine your light upon us / Reveal your love within us / Come rule and reign among us / Come, Jesus, come. “Producer Jonathan Crone helped sculpt the amazing musical arrangement which was built on the rhythm of a wooden pencil, which he bounced on his guitar strings,” says Watson. “That pencil became the foundation of the whole song, to which we added a full band. The ‘icing on the cake’ was having Phil Keaggy add electric guitar parts, which pushed it over the top. Accompanying the song is a lyric video showing the places Jesus lived in Israel using actual Google Earth footage! The video really brings the song to life, visually.” To watch the “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” lyric video, click here.
2 – “French Carol” is Watson’s adaptation of a 13th century French Carol called “Le Sommeil de L’enfant Jesus,” which means “the sleep of the infant Jesus.” It is a beautiful Christmas lullaby for the Christ child which Watson sings in English and French (she speaks French fluently, and loves to sing in French whenever she can). This song is one that Watson included on her 2003 album, Christmas Presence. The new recording features the same hauntingly beautiful music, fleshed out in a stunning string arrangement by Tyler Smith.
3 – “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” is a beautiful American carol that Watson has sung many times in concert, but never recorded until now. Producer Jonathan Crone conceived the arrangement and added a touching classical guitar accompaniment, and Tyler Smith provided the lush string orchestration.
4 – “Gesu Bambino” was originally an Italian carol written in the early 20th century, but was later translated into English. “Singing this carol has been on my bucket list for several years,” Watson says. “It requires a bigger, more classical range to sing, so I was able to use some of my classical vocal training to pull it off. The celtic, folksy arrangement also allowed me to do a little ‘fiddling’ which was fun.”
5 – “The Holly and the Ivy” is a very old carol with origins that are not clear, but the words started showing up in hymn books in the 19th century. “I love the connection with history and I wanted this song to remind the listener of handbells and choirs, which were familiar sounds in the church where I grew up,” says Watson. “I think this arrangement has an angelic quality to it and gave me another chance to add a violin part, which I always enjoy!”
6 – “I Wonder As I Wander” is an American folk hymn written in 1933 by John Jacob Niles. “It has a wistful quality to it that always draws me into worship,” says Watson. “I included it on my original 2003 Christmas album and loved it so much that I decided to record it again on Behold. The piano part (which I played) is identical to the original 2003 version. Again, Tyler Smith added his signature lush orchestration, and the transformation in the arrangement from twenty years ago to today is spectacular!”
For more information about Jean Watson and Behold: Carols of Worship, or to purchase the project, visit jeanwatson.com. To stream the Beholdproject, 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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