Faith Hill recently released her first album of Christmas music, 'Joy To The World,' including such classics as 'Winter Wonderland,' 'O Holy Night' and 'Little Drummer Boy.' But one of her personal holiday favorites, 'Away in a Manger,' almost didn't make the project.

"I had sung that as a child many, many, many times," Hill tells Nashville's Tennessean newspaper. "In the Baptist church, that is the song that you start singing first. You know Christmas is coming when you start to sing 'Away in a Manger' on Sunday morning."

In spite of the nostalgic memories, Hill hesitated on adding the song. "I could never get past the hymnal version of that song. I thought we could never do it any differently than what it's been written, and I'm kind of bored with that particular song," she admits. But thanks in part to prodding by her husband, Tim McGraw, she added the carol and now realizes it was the perfect choice.

"I just viewed the PBS special that I did, and that is one of the best songs in the show. It is so beautiful, so beautifully arranged, that it just brings it like a fresh new song," Hill says.

'Joy to the World' is Hill's first-ever holiday collection, arriving some 15 years after her debut CD. She says it was well worth the wait.

"I was so proud that I didn't just record in haste and then put it out because everyone wanted a Christmas album," she said. "I didn't ever want to do it that way, and I'm so glad that we all stuck to our long-term goals of making a Christmas album. When you are in the midst of working and you get pulled in different directions, you do things randomly and I didn't want it to be that.

"Christmas is a spiritual time. It's about the birth of baby Jesus, and I wanted that message to be in this album. So when I was recording and singing it, I really felt his presence. I felt at peace. I felt grateful that so much time had been put into the making of this album."