Carrie Underwood recorded this song for her first-ever full-length Christmas album, My Gift. It was written by John Legend and his "All Of Me" writing partner, Toby Gad.
Legend sent the song late into the My Gift album process when Underwood had already assembled much of the tracklist. Speaking during an episode of Today's Country Radio With Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country, Underwood recalled how as soon as she heard "Hallelujah" she knew she had to make room for it. "This is a puzzle piece I didn't know was missing, but now that I've heard it, I have to have it," she remembered thinking.
The song finds Legend joining Underwood to sing of their hope that the spirit of love and Christmas lasts throughout the year. Doing the track as a duet was Underwood's idea, not something that Legend or his team suggested when they sent her the tune. "It was never brought up, like, 'Hey, here's the song if Carrie wants to sing it with me.' It was like, 'Here's the song if you want it,'" she said, adding, "I hope they were hoping I'd ask."
Underwood explained to Billboard that she was drawn to the song as it covers a lot of familiar Christmas lyrical content and "paints the scene" beautifully. "It's got some spiritual aspects to it, it's got kind of this love story thing to it," she added. "It's got all of the tactile... winter's chill, candles."
Greg Wells produced the track and played the guitar, piano and drums. The Canadian producer's other credits include hit songs by Katy Perry ("Waking Up In Vegas"), Kelly Clarkson ("I Do Not Hook Up") and Keith Urban ("Wasted Time").
Underwood and Legend performed the song for Underwood's My Gift: A Christmas Special, which began streaming December 3, 2020 on HBO Max.
Director and photographer Randee St. Nicholas filmed the video, which depicts Underwood caught in a blizzard in a forest. She seeks sanctuary inside an old, abandoned church where she joins Legend at the piano.
The song climbed to the top of the Billboard Hot Christian Songs chart, marking John Legend's first #1 on the ranking. It replaced another Underwood song on the summit, "Favorite Time of Year." The American Idol alumna's only previous visit to the Hot Christian Songs peak position was with "Something in the Water" back in 2014.
Carrie Underwood and John Legend scooped the Video of the Year accolade at the 2021 CMT Awards for this song. The country star also joined Needtobreathe to perform their single "I Wanna Remember" at the ceremony.