Songs of Christmas – Mary Did You Know?

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This is part 12 of an Advent/Christmas series titled “Songs of Christmas.” For other parts of the series see the index. The index also contains the introduction for the series.

I love a great deal of Christmas music (there is also a lot of Christmas music I’m not so crazy about). There are two relatively new songs that at least at the moment top my personal charts, one is spiritual in nature and one is secular. The secular one (I will not be writing about it because to the best of my knowledge there isn’t much information available) is “Frosty the Blues Man,” performed by Denver and the Mile High Orchestra. The song that is spiritual in background is the song for today, “Mary Did You Know?”

Mark Lowry, the lyricist for “Mary Did You Know?” was living in Houston when he got the idea for the song. He had been given the task of writing transition music for his church’s Singing Christmas Tree. The choir used hymns but they needed additional music to transition from one song to another. As Lowry wrote a piece about Mary, he began to imagine that he was a reporter interviewing Mary. There was a line that really spoke to him, “When you kiss your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God.” I can see why the line spoke to him. As many times as I have heard this song, it still gives me chills.

When Lowry finished his “Singing Christmas Tree” assignment, he went back to those lines he had written about Mary. The “kissed the face of God” line he felt like really needed to be a song so he went to work. In the end Lowry wrote a poem that he said truly moved him. Yet writing a song is no easy task. He gave the poem to a solid well-intentioned music writer but the end result didn’t move Lowry in fact he felt it took away from his poem. He decided to file the poem away and wait for God’s time rather than force something that he knew wasn’t right. There is a lesson for most all of us in that.

All of that happened in 1984. In 1988 Lowry received an invitation to join the Gaither Vocal Band. It was a tremendous opportunity and Mark jumped at the chance. Two years later the Gaither Vocal Band received another newcomer, Buddy Green. Lowry decided to share “Mary Did You Know?” with Green. He intended it more as a joke but Green took him seriously and wrote the music we know today.

Within a week of Green finishing the music, the two contacted Michael English and convinced him to record the song. They all thought that would probably be the end of it. It was only the beginning. In short order, Kathy Mattea, Natalie Cole and several others, now including Lowry himself have recorded the song.

“Mary Did You Know?” became an instant hit. Today it is sung by soloists and choirs in churches and elsewhere throughout the Christmas season. In very short order, it has become a favorite and a Christmas classic.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Joy and Peace,
Keith

Copyright 2016, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Sources

Collins, Ace, Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001.

Collins, Andrew, Stories Behind the Greatest Hits of Christmas, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010.

Gant, Andrew, The Carols of Christmas: A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs, Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2015.

Osbeck, Kenneth W. Joy to the World: The Stories Behind Your Favorite Christmas Carols, Grand Rapids: Kregal, 1999.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary,_Did_You_Know%3F

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Lowry

Published by drjkbroyles

I love Mike Ashcraft's book, "My One Word." For the past nine years I have participated and encouraged others to participate to in the "My One Word" Challenge. My first word was discipline was my word the first year. Since then my word has been focus, sight, jungle, peace, concentration, serve, genuine and this year is fit. I seek to be fit for my health, my family, my church, my ministries. I seek to be fit in any are of my life where God might point to me. I also have a nickname, "Dr. B." When I was a public high school teacher, Dr. B. is what most of my students called me, at least in my presence. I am still called that by many people though I no longer teach in public schools. I am the author of "Average Joe: With an Extraordinary Story" (available on Amazon). The book fits into the genre of "Biblical Fiction" or "Christian Fiction" and features some of the Bible's lesser known characters. The name of my blog is, "Fork in the Road." Life is filled with forks in the road. It isn't a matter of if we encounter a fork in the road, but when will we and how many will we experience in a lifetime. I love to strum my guitar. I am not a great guitar player but I enjoy it. I also enjoy writing music. I get excited with I feel a new song emerging. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog, "Bishop" in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 30 years as a United Methodist pastor, serving churches all over east and southeast Texas, from just north of Tyler to south of Houston, from the Gulf Coast to east of Madisonville. I currently serve Perritte Memorial UMC in Nacogdoches. I spent one year in the classroom, teaching High School government, economics, psychology, and sociology. Cindy and I have been married for 43 years. We have two grown sons and six grandchildren, three boys and three girls. I enjoy preaching and all it's aspects from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading. I have dabble in drawing and "painting" with pastels as well as woodworking and woodcarving. My current projects are two ukuleles. I collect, repair and restore guitars too. I play the guitar (badly, but I still do) I also enjoy working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, TX, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. This blog started out as devotional writings. In August of 2020, I made a major change to the blog, switching to a daily theme format. Sunday Sermon-usually my manuscript sermon Miscellaneous Monday-misc. writing, poetry, ministry Tuesday Thoughts-Devotion Wed. with Wesleys-hist. & theol. of early Methodists TED Talk Thursday-Video & appl. in current theology Five for Friday-5 things I've seen & my thoughts Sing-Along Sat. - Usually a new song I have written I write, "Strumming a G-Chord with Dr.B." to get my thoughts onto something permanent. After all, they say, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. Seeking the Genuine, Keith Lufkin, Texas August 2020

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