Update: I have written more about this song. You can hear my favorite version of Mary Did You know, and read the lyrics here.
This morning, in my blog reading, I came across a relatively new Christmas song, "Mary Did You Know". Like Kimberly, I have grown to love this song.
I first heard this song performed by Kim Bracken during the Christmas Season of 2004. It was on one of those FM 100 Christmas compilation CD's (Volume IV). I found it very moving, but didn't think much more about it until last week. Then last week Hugh Hewitt featured it as "bumper music" on his nationally syndicated talk show. Each time a segment of the show would begin or end, he would play a different rendition this song.
Ever since then, I can't seem to get this song out of my head!
On Sunday night, I was cooking dinner, and whistling the tune as I was making my way around the kitchen. After dinner, while the kids were doing the dishes, I picked up a recorder, and figured out the melody. I have found that usually, if I can whistle a tune, I can play it on the recorder. Later on, I sat down at the piano, and began creating my own piano arrangement of it.
It seems this song has universal (at least among Christians) appeal. There are more versions of it than I can count. Today I did some research on the song, and found that it was published in 1991, and is well on its way to becoming a new classic. You can read about the history of the song, and about the lyricist (Mark Lowry) and the composer (Buddy Greene) here. You can listen to a version of the song performed by Lowry and Greene here . ( Note: This is a web page that plays the song automatically when you go to it. I found it works best with a high-speed connection, and Internet Explorer.)
Which version is best? I suppose that is all a matter of taste. Both Lowry and Greene, the creators of this song are Contemporary Christian Musicians (CCM). Their CCM version, while nice, has a few too many runs and flourishes in it for my taste. I have heard some recommend the Clay Aiken Version. I'm sure he does a nice job, although I haven't heard it yet. It appears that many Christian and Country artists have recorded versions of the song.
As for me, I guess it comes down to the version that I first heard, and that first moved me. I still like Kim Bracken's version, even though she is still a relatively unknown Utah, LDS musician. Her version is powerful -- yet plain and simple. With its elegant simplicity, Kim Bracken's version focuses more on the subject matter, than drawing attention to herself.
Like a humble offering to a king.