Questions, set to music, for the mother of God

Christ in Christmas Songs

Mary, did you know

That your baby boy will one day walk on water?

Did you know

That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know

That your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you’ve delivered

Will soon deliver you.

So begins the hauntingly beautiful Christmas tune, “Mary, Did You Know?” The lyrics ask Mary, the mother of Christ, if she has any inkling of the great things her son will do, as leader of all nations.

The song’s roots date to 1984, when Mark Lowry, a 26-year-old singer and comedian, was asked to write a musical Christmas play for his Nashville church. While working on the play, he began to write down questions to Mary, asking her if she knew who her son would grow up to be.

These questions ultimately were used as monologues in between the musical’s scenes, but six years later, songwriter Buddy Greene put the words to music, and a classic was born.

Throughout the past 19 years, the song has been covered by such artists as Reba McEntire, Michael Crawford, Natalie Cole and Michael W. Smith. Arguably, though, the most well-known cover is Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd’s, recorded in 1996.

With its contemplative lyrics and repetitive addresses (some form of the phrase “Mary, did you know” is spoken nine times during the song’s length), the song is a reminder that Jesus, who began his life on Earth in a Bethlehem manger, fulfilled the promises spoken by the prophets, as a light to all nations, and conqueror of sin. With this Advent season today, we await Jesus again, and make sure we know to be prepared.

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