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When Christmas Comes: An Interview with Jesus Culture's Kim Walker-Smith

Jesus Culture worship leader Kim Walker-Smith is quite familiar with recording live worship albums filled with songs that soon become Sunday morning favorites. This holiday season, she’s stepping into something new. She’s recorded her first Christmas album, When Christmas Comes, a 17-track project featuring moving Christmas hymns and classic holiday carols.

In a recent interview with CBN.com, the Bethel Church worship pastor shared her heart behind this new Christmas record, plus some of her favorite holiday memories from years past.

It seems that more and more artists (secular and Christian) are making Christmas records. What was your plan and hope for this album going into it and did evolve in any way during the recording process?

I had wanted to record a Christmas album for a long time. My hope has been that it would become an album that people pull out every year and add it the their Christmas time rotation and that it would be the backdrop of many happy memories. As we got into the process, I realized that my love for Jesus as a worship leader still comes through, even singing the Christmas songs, and so I hope that it also inspires people to draw closer to Jesus.

What’s the meaning of your album’s title? What happens “when Christmas comes”?

We wanted a title that was unique and not just a generic Kim Walker-Smith ChristmasWhen Christmas Comes felt like a good title to convey what we want to be felt and heard in all of the tracks. When Christmas comes, we create wonderful memories, we feel joy and peace, we spend time with family, we celebrate Jesus, and we remember what is most important during the holidays.

What’s the story behind the first track, “Tell Me the Story of Jesus”?

It is written by my friend, Anthony Skinner. I wanted to place it at the front of the album, to send a clear message. Jesus is the most important part of Christmas. Regardless of the song selection, the message of Jesus is most important and the best part of Christmas.

The album has a mixture of great Christmas hymns and fun holiday songs. How did you decide which hymns to record?

I chose songs according to what are my favorite songs to sing and the songs that have a special memory attached to them. It was hard to whittle the list down! 

Do you have a favorite Christmas hymn?

My favorite is probably “Away in a Manger.” I think it is the first Christmas hymn I learned as a little girl. It is the memory of many childhood Christmas plays and it is such a sweet lullaby.

Of the holiday carols you recorded for this album, which is a favorite of yours?

I love “The Christmas Song.” I have a special memory with that song. When I was in high school, my mom had just got a clear diagnosis after battling breast cancer, and she came to the school and played the piano for me while I sang this song for our Christmas pep rally.

What do those carols add to this Christmas record?

Fun! I wanted a mixture of the sacred hymns and the fun carols because that has always been the backdrop of all of my Christmas memories.

I’m sure many childhood memories came to mind as you recorded these songs. What’s one that kept coming to mind?

When I was 4 years old, I did my first Christmas musical. It was a story about a grandmother and her granddaughter (which I played). On the night of our last show, the lady who played my grandmother gave me a gift to open. It was a little stuffed animal Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. As a little girl, that was my favorite song and favorite Christmas time movie to watch. I still pull out that little Rudolph every year at Christmas.

Do you have a family tradition you love to do each Christmas?

Every Christmas Eve my mom would let us open one gift and it is always pajamas. But as we have gotten older, the pajamas get more ridiculous and silly. So, we open all, get our crazy pajamas and mom makes us wear them and get a picture all together. It inspires many laughs!

What’s your favorite part of the Christmas story?

My favorite part of the Christmas story is when the angels appeared in the sky, in front of the shepherds, and began worshipping Jesus. I think that would have been so amazing to see and be a part of. I love that Jesus came into the world with worship.

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