Three-time GMA Dove Award-winning worship leader Christy Nockels recently released, “The Thrill of Hope Renewed”, today. This 15 track Christmas album combines many of the traditional Christmas songs that we look forward to each year with other tracks that focus less on the celebration of the birth of Christ and delve more into the meaning of the birth of Jesus.
It’s an area that we tend to gloss over at this time of year, but something that we should be appreciative of because Jesus’ death marked the beginning of a new life for the believer- a new covenant between us and God. This is the reason that we should rejoice.
Nockles uses a plethora of sounds including an incredibly written narrative that uses imagery and scripture to formulate this stunning picture in the listener’s mind. It was so beautifully crafted, that I almost wept.
The Thrill of Hope Renewed was produced by Christy Nockels’ husband, Nathan Nockels, and is based on Christy’s debut album The Thrill of Hope which was released in 2016.
The most interesting track on this album, and certainly one of my favorites, is the “Amaryllis Story” which Nockles contrasts to Jesus’ arrival on Christmas and in a season that is more about an ending as opposed to regeneration.
“He certainly didn’t arrive when conditions were perfect,” reflects Christy. “In fact, He arrived in the midst of a silence in a winter that the world had never known and just when we thought we’d never see spring, heaven gave a King. He surprised the night. When we least expected it, His love broke through and He shined, pushing through the hardness of winter on our behalf.
“He has and always will be new life,” she further explains according to Hoganson Media Relations. “And that very life he offers to us, that no matter how dark and bleak our condition may be, like Him, we too can bloom with the brilliance of summer right in the middle of winter.”
Tracks On The Thrill of Hope Renewed
The King is Coming Prelude (Renewed): A gorgeous arrangement of violins opens up this song coupled with Christy Nockels’ beautiful, melodic voice that makes this arrangement spectacular. This is the perfect song to open an album with as it sets the stage for praise and worship.
While this song sets the stage for worship, it is not sleepy, but ushers in the presence of the Holy Spirit with the simple words of “The King Is Coming, Open Up Your Mind, Receive It.” Sung over and over again.
Advent Hymn (Renewed): Advent Hymn describes Christ and His nature. It describes how Christ changes the believer- their heart. It also describes the birth and anticipation of the birth of Jesus.
The vocals on this track are powerful and passionate in the chorus while the verse is soft and tender. The instruments add a more Celtic feel to the song, which makes it both unique and enjoyable to listen to.
O Come O Come Emmanuel (Molley Moody): A unique arrangement to an old classic Christmas song. The tempo has been sped up a bit and has a bit of a folksy flavor to it. The listener hears those warm notes of bass through the song which rounds out a very beautiful arrangement. The most beautiful notes in the song- which are a bit unusual for a folksy arrangement are the cello. It doesn’t detract from the song but adds a bit of interest to it.
A very bold choice!
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing/Room In Your Heart Renewed: The song begins in a very traditional manner with the sounds of violins. It begins slowly, and then on the chorus, the tempo picks up a bit.
Room In Your Heart intertwines with Hark The Herald Angel Sings then goes into the third verse of the song Hark The Herald Angel Sings. The two songs combine effortlessly. If you had never heard the songs before, you would think that they were written together. They are combined so effortlessly together.
Heading into O Come Let Us Adore Him, the song goes into a bit more of a country fiddling sound. Before singing O Come Let Us Adore Him, the tempo slows right down into a worship song, and song sweetly, yet boldly.
The three songs are combined together seamlessly, yet each has its own distinctive sound which makes each segment unique.
Amaryllis Story (Renewed): Amaryllis Story begins with a narrative that describes seasons of our lives, and how God prunes/refines us. It describes a note about a branch being grown, pruned and refined combined with sowing and reaping. It is a combination of vivid symbolism using the parable outlined in John 15 (vine and branches), and Ecclesiastes 3.
It also goes into the new life of Christ and relates it back to the seasons. Beautifully and brilliantly crafted narrative.
Amaryllis (Renewed): The song itself discusses the “seasons” of Jesus. Lyrically, the words create beautiful imagery for the listener. It also discusses the seasons of our lives and how Jesus can break through whatever we are going through. It compares Jesus to the Amaryllis which blooms at Christmas. It describes that no matter what season we are facing, Jesus can cause regrowth to occur which changes our situation for His glory.
It describes how in the darkest season; Jesus’ love shines through and makes things beautiful. Great message for the listener.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Renewed): Warm notes of bass, piano and what sounds like a cello in the distance makes this song warm. The vocals and arrangements are traditional, but listening to it, the individual almost feels like they are in front of a warm, roaring fire, relaxing and enjoying the holiday season.
The sweet notes of the violin puncture the brief interlude going into the last verse.
Our Christmas Song (Renewed): Our Christmas Song opens up with the sweet strumming of a guitar. It discusses dreams of a family, the warmth, and the traditions of Christmas. It captures the true meaning of both Christmas/family, and the story of Jesus’ birth.
It discusses how money cannot compare to the meaning of Christmas, nor should it be about materialism but the simple gift of Christ and what it means to the believer.
Make Good Your Christmas Day (Renewed) (Annie Rose Nockels and Elliana Nockles): The song describes a wandering brother returning home. The next verse discusses a sister lifting her eyes to Christ. It talks about how Christ indwells in you and how Christ will never leave you.
It calls out to the “weary world” who doesn’t know Christ but needs to. Christ will rejuvenate the world- only if they allow Him to.
Halfway through the song, it goes into a verse of The First Noel.
It ends with our soul singing with joy, and the Holy Spirit dwelling within us. Christmas is not just one day, but something we should celebrate each day through.
Song In The Air (Renewed) (Chris McClarney): Song in the Air begins with beautiful notes lingering under the opening verse. Then the sound becomes bolder claiming the good news of the coming of Christ as it nears the chorus.
The song again almost has a folksy feel to it. This makes the sound surreal in some areas, while powerful – almost emphatic in the chorus- and really showcases Christy Nockels’ range beautifully.
Dance at Migdal Eder (Renewed): Dance at Migdal Eder definitely has that Celtic feel to it. It begins powerfully, boldly, and profoundly. It discusses Heaven rejoicing at the birth of Jesus. The upbeat tempo will make you want to dance and celebrate Christmas.
Silent Night (Holding Us Now) (Renewed): The sounds of a cello and guitar give beauty to a traditionally arranged song. Holding Us Now adds to the beauty and warmth to the song by extrapolating Christ’s birth into what it means to us now. Silent Night focuses on the birth of Christ while Holding Us Now takes Jesus through the cross.
Wrap This One Up (Renewed): The warm glow of the piano and violin opens this song. It describes Jesus as the Shepard, the Passover Lamb, and Jesus in the manger. It discusses Jesus as without blemish (Passover lamb), and how He paid the price for our sins. It doesn’t celebrate the birth as much (even though it does make mention of it) but rather contrasts it to the meaning of His death on the cross.
In the middle of the song, it goes into a powerful rendition of In Excelsis Deo. It is rearranged a bit to be made more powerful and emphatic.
Joy To The World (Renewed): Joy To The World is rearranged in some parts. It adds to the beauty and simplicity of the song. It was done almost to create emphasis. It does beautifully draw the listener into a favorite old classic.
Is He Worthy? / The King Is Coming (Renewed): A choir fills the background to this song giving it a very gospel feel. It describes the light of the Lord and how we should remind ourselves continually of God’s glory. It talks about not only the righteousness of Christ but reflects on whether we are truly worthy to receive such a great sacrifice. It reminds us of the love of God, and Jesus’ sacrifice so that we could be reconciled to God. It makes the listener appreciate what the death of Christ means. It tells us that while we are technically unworthy due to our sin nature, God loved us so much that He sacrificed His only Son so that we could live a life in Heaven with Him.
The songs themselves are beautifully crafted and unique. Christy Nockels’ vocals are outstanding, and many of the arrangements showcase her range gorgeously! This is sure to be an album that many listeners will cherish this holiday season as it adds that hint of warmth to the holidays coupled with an air of thankfulness for what God has done.