GRAMMY-winning Christian artist Chris Tomlin had sat down at that piano and had played that Stevie Wonder tune hundreds of times. But never did he hear it the way he heard it on that warm day this past summer.
“I always play ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ for the girls,” the acclaimed Christian artist tells American Songwriter during a recent interview, referring to the seventies hit he often plays for his two daughters, 9-year-old Ashlyn and 6-year-old Madison. “I’ve just always loved the chord progression of that song. But singing those words and playing that tune just felt different that day.”
So, like any good songwriter, Tomlin went with that feeling. And understandably, those feelings were especially strong ones on that particular day, as the 48-year-old had recently received the incredible news that he was going to be a daddy once again.
“To be honest, when I first found out, the whole room started spinning,” remembers Tomlin, whose wife Lauren is expecting the couple’s third daughter just before Christmas. “I almost fainted. It was the biggest surprise of my life. I mean, I thought we were past it in our life. We had given all the cribs and strollers and baby clothes away. That season was over, and then we find this out. It instantly changes everything in your world. I’m still reeling. What a gift this child will be.”
And that’s the moment when his personal and professional lives collided.
And “Miracle of Love” was born.
“I was thinking about how we were going to have a Christmas baby, and I thought, ‘what a moment to write a song,’” Tomlin remembers of “Miracle of Love,” which serves as the title track from his Miracle of Love: Christmas Songs of Worship EP released back in October. “I started thinking about the Christmas baby, the birth of Jesus, and what a surprise that it was for Mary. And then I started thinking about what a gift and a miracle Jesus has been to the world and then I started thinking about what a miracle this baby will be to our family.”
With every line essentially having a double meaning for Tomlin, “Miracle of Love” materialized quickly. After a quick trip to friend and fellow songwriter Ashley Gorley’s house to finish things up (‘I had the lyrics and the chorus, but I needed some help with the melody on the verse,’) the touching song was complete.
“So many of the great Christmas standards are actually very minor and maybe even dark, and this song is not that,” he says. “This song brings happiness and joy.”
Having scored 17 Number one singles at radio, sold more than nine million albums, earned three Billboard Music Awards and 21 Dove Awards, the two-time BMI Songwriter of the Year honoree has long focused in on the joy of life in his songs.
But never like he did once his kids were born.
“Having children has definitely enhanced my songwriting,” says Tomlin, whose new EP also includes the new song “All the World Awaits (Hosanna)” that he wrote alongside Jason Ingram and Matt Maher. “For me, I have long focused on writing songs of worship that would help connect one with God. But when I had kids, it helped me unlock that feeling of real, unconditional love. The love of God is that same kind of unconditional love. Having kids will unlock something in your heart you didn’t even know was there.”
It’s a miracle, really. And if any year needed us to remind us all that miracles still exist, it is 2020.
“People need some joy and there is nothing like a baby to bring joy to a world,” says Tomlin, whose Christmas special K-LOVE Christmas & Chris Tomlin Present: “Christmas Songs of Worship” will be streamed on the Stabal global platform on Saturday, December 12 at 8 p.m. CST. “When there is so much death and fear around you, you need to have something incredible to celebrate. This year has been a reminder to all of us to celebrate the gifts God has given us, even when everything else is stripped away.”
Indeed, while 2020 kept Tomlin and countless other artist off the road due to the ongoing pandemic, it also brought its share of delightful surprises.
“I didn’t see this year coming, at all, in terms of my career,” says Tomlin, whose album Chris Tomlin & Friends debuted at number one on the Christian Albums Chart this past summer and features 13 tracks with artists such as Florida Georgia Line, Lady A and Thomas Rhett. “What I was able to do was really born out of friendships. It was really not part of the plan. Moving into 2021, I’m really grateful to be in this time of my musical career. Now we just need to figure out how we get back out there and bring people together and make live music work again.”
But until then, it’s a waiting game for Tomlin, in more ways than one.
“Our bags are at the door and the doctor says it could be any day,” gushes Tomlin of the impending birth of his daughter, who will go by the name of Elle. “These are exciting days. We are just waiting for her to arrive.”