One day, Sue C. Smith was driving around Nashville thinking about ideas for Christmas songs. “It was spring,” she recalls, “so of course we were all writing Christmas, because that’s what you do as a songwriter!”
She adds, “I was thinking about Mary and Joseph and how, even though Mary had been visited by an angel and Joseph had had this incredible dream, basically most of the time they were just getting ready to have a baby, like any other couple.”
Not long afterwards, she was in a co-writing session with Lee Black and Jerry Salley. Jerry was discussing his family’s preparations to welcome his granddaughter. Sue mentioned a title idea—”Getting Ready for a Baby.”
“So often in a co-write,” she comments, “you discover that God has had you thinking along the same lines as your co-writers.”
Lee Black recalls that they decided to write it with verses and a bridge, but no chorus—”we decided to end up writing one of those that every verse ends with the hook.”
When they got to the bridge, Jerry Salley recalls, they came up with the lines “One silent night / He changed their lives / Like babies always always do.” Then, he adds, “Lee Black is the one who said the words, ‘But Mary and Joseph had had no idea how He would change mine too.’”
All three co-writers remember that moment vividly. “That was a sweet moment,” Sue recalls. “For all the really hard work you do crafting a song, there are those moments where you really know certain lines are just gifts God sends you.”
Jerry adds, “I think the story really captivates and really can hold you there until you get there, but when you get to that point—that is the line that gets me every time.”
He continues, “We all knew it was right when he said it. I learned a long time ago when you’re going to co-write songs, if you’re not smart enough to think of it the day that you’re in the room, you’d better recognize it when your co-writer says it!”
Jerry Salley has been friends with the Oak Ridge Boys for years. They had cut another Christmas song he wrote, “Hay Baby,” on their previous Christmas recording, Christmas Cookies. One day, lead singer Duane Allen called him, saying, “Hey, Jerry, we’re looking for Christmas songs.” He added that Ben Isaacs would be producing the album.
Since Salley also knows Isaacs, “when I sent the mp3, I sent it to Duane and to Ben both. Of course, as a songwriter, you pitch a song any which way you can get it to them, even if it’s a band member!”
The Oak Ridge Boys had a song meeting to review the songs they were considering. When they got to this song, Duane said, “Well, I’m really liking this one.” Ben added that he loved it, too, and it ended up making the record.
It can be found on the CD Christmas Time’s a-Coming, available now at Cracker Barrel and iTunes.