Story behind the song: ‘Mary did you know?’
Mark Lowry, a Christian singer, songwriter and comedian, was born in Houston, Texas, June 24, 1958, to Charles Lowry, an attorney, and Bev Lowry, a singer, songwriter and pianist. He learned to love music and could sing beautifully as a young child. He graduated from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., in 1980.
Following is Mark’s story behind his now famous song:
“In 1984, Jerry Falwell called and asked me to write the program for their next Living Christmas Tree.
As I wrote the ‘speaking parts’ I began to think about Mary. I have always been fascinated with the concept that God came to earth.
In a conversation with my mother, I remember she said, ‘If anyone on earth knew for sure that Jesus was virgin born - Mary knew!’ That was a profound statement that stuck with me.
One thing they couldn’t take from Mary was that she knew her Child was not ordinary.
At the cross on Mount Calvary, while Jesus was dying, her silence was a great testimony to the fact of who he was and is. He said to them, ‘When you have seen me, you have seen the Father.’ Of course, for this they nailed him to a cross, and his mother never said a word.
As my mind went back to the manger scene, I began to think about the power, authority and majesty she cradled in her arms. Those little lips were the same lips that had spoken worlds into existence. All of those things were contained in the young child lying quietly on her bosom. Even now, he was the very one who had given life to his mother, Mary.
I began writing a list of questions I would like to ask Mary if I could sit down with her - questions such as, ‘Mary, do you know who is in your arms?’
‘Did you know the one who holds creation together, and the one who holds you together is lying helpless in the manger?’
‘Did you know that your baby boy will walk on water, give sight to a blind man and calm a storm at sea with his hand?’”
Lowry carried his lyrics with him for the next seven years. In 1991, he asked his good friend, Buddy Greene, to write suitable music for his poem.
Greene told me in an interview, “Mark handed me his lyrics, and I held on to them for about two weeks. One day I pulled them out and looked at them. They seemed to suggest a minor key approach to writing an accompaniment. I completed the musical setting in about 30 minutes. I called Mark at his home in Georgia and on the phone played and sang the song to him. He was ecstatic! He said, ‘That’s it!’
Two weeks later. we met in Mark’s hotel room in Nashville where we recorded the song on a small portable machine. It was then taken to Michael English who was preparing to make an album. He was the first person to record “Mary, Did You Know?”
Many other popular singers have since recorded it. Kenny Rogers, the country artist and Kathleen Battle, the opera star are two singers that have carried it to the studio. Kathy Mattea sang it at a gathering in the White House. My favorite version is by the Pentatonix and can be found at Pentatonix Mary Did You Know.