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The Story of a Song: Mary, Did You Know?

Roberta Messner explores the origin of Mark Lowry’s classic Christmas song about the birth of Jesus.

Singer, comedian, and songwriter Mark Lowry; photo courtesy Mark Lowry

When aspiring gospel singer Mark Lowry was asked to write the script for a church Christmas program in 1984, he talked over ideas with his mom. “If anyone on earth knew for sure that Jesus was virgin-born, Mary knew,” she said. That simple observation lit up Mark’s imagination. “I began writing a list of questions I would like to ask Mary if I could sit down with her,” he says.

The words that have stirred the hearts of millions around the world soon followed: Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water? Mary, did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

For seven years, Mark carried those questions with him while launching his career. In 1991, he asked songwriter Buddy Greene to come up with a melody for the lyrics. The result was “Mary, Did You Know?” That holiday season, Michael English debuted the song, and it has since be­come a Christmas classic, recorded by hundreds of artists, including Clay Ai­ken, Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, as a duet by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd, and even Mark himself.

Mark’s lyrics invite the listener to contemplate the mysteries of Mary and her newborn son and to celebrate the eternal promise of Christmas: Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?

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