Mary, do you STILL know?

I have no empirical evidence to prove this, only a hunch and the vestige of vague memory … maybe it’s deja vu, but it sure does feel like the only thing as reliable as tired and bad Christmas music every year is a story about the story behind Mark Lowry’s song, “Mary Did You Know?” Via sgblognews, here is this year’s installment. Second verse and all that.

Here’s my theory (assuming I’m not dreaming): good Christmas music is so hard to come by, feature writers looking for SOMETHING halfway original to say about Christmas music turn to one of the few good new(ish) Christmas songs for a story. Thus putting the song all that much closer to being tired and old like most of the rest of Christmas music.

Update: Speaking of humbugs, here’s my very first Christmas music screed from way back, which pretty sums up how I still feel about Christmas music (and why I don’t have much more to say about it).

Later Update: Ok, it’s not ALL bad. See here, if you’ve forgotten.

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Comments

  1. Malcolm wrote:

    Why Doug, I believe your bah-humbugs are emerging.

  2. Lacey wrote:

    Wow! I didn’t realize this song was that old. I liked this song when I first heard it but really feel in love with it when Jodi Hosterman did it with the Kingdom Heirs and then Clay Aiken recorded it on his Christmas CD too.
    Doug, if you are looking for a “fresh” sounding Christmas CD, check out SheDaisy’s “Brand New Year”. It’s one of my fave’s because it doesn’t sound “tired”.

  3. Tom wrote:

    You could try the simple beauty of Bruce Cockburn’s “Christmas” or Over the Rhine’s “The Darkest Night of the Year.” Oh wait, this is a blog about southern gospel . . . no, I can’t think of a single southern gospel Christmas project that I wanted to hear more than once, and most of them I couldn’t wait for it to get over so I could move on to something else.

  4. smells wrote:

    Are you kidding me? Even though I don’t really care for Mark, Mary did you know will always be a Christmas classic. And nobody can sing it like Michael English. The song will never get tired, at Christmas time anyways.

  5. SGReporter.com wrote:

    I am not much of a Christmas music fan.. I can take a few tunes Christmas eve.. and maybe before noon Christmas day.. but that’s about it.

    This year I have discovered an enjoyable Christmas project.. and it fits into the SG format.. (Gaither style).. Try THE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS by Stephen Hill and Woody Wright.. Several original Christmas songs.. that sound like Chirstmas. Plus a few standards.. with a nice, fresh application of Hill-Wright personality.

  6. Jennifer wrote:

    I love the song and IMO Mark does it the best!!! I love it when Guy and Wes (or Guy and David as before) back him up…its awesome. :)

  7. Joe wrote:

    Doug-

    A recent article in our local paper shed some light on this. As you commented in your first “bah humbug”, very few currently-played “Christmas” songs, no matter what genre, have ANYTHING to do with Christ. The article listed the 25 most popularly recorded songs of the past 5 years- and NOT ONE of them had anything to do with Jesus- not a single mention of Him.

    I guess this is a microcosm of this world in general- still very little room for Him “in the inn”.

    But…some of the greatest hymns ever written and still sung are the hymns of Christmas. “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” (Charles Wesley and Felix Mendelssohn) is and always will be a theological masterpiece. The 3rd verse to “O little town of Bethlehem” is still as good as anything ever written. “O Holy Night” still thrills me, in almost every rendition in which it has been handled. “Silent Night” can still bring a tear when done right. And “Mary Did You Know?” might be one of the few Christmas songs written in the last 50 years, that can match the old standards in their depths of spiritual greatness.

    When this time of the year comes, I always pray that the Lord would use the great music of the season, still piped into malls and stores at times, to reach the hearts of the unsaved.

    Sadly, most of the music being heard these days is not that which could lead anybody to a Savior.

  8. Jim2 wrote:

    “Theological Masterpiece”? I can’t find any scriptural evidence that the angels “sang” - OK, I’m being picky.
    But for well done Christmas music in the SG vein, Look no further than “A Greater Vision Christmas” vocals by the guys and great orchestration and arrangements, some guy named Wayne Haun had something to do with it, I think. Gerald Wolfe’s “My Kind of Christmas” is a marvelously understated piano instrumental project. Two other worthy contenders (not SG) would be Rose of Bethlehem from Selah and Erin O’Donnell’s Christmas album of a year or two ago.

  9. Jeff wrote:

    I only like Christmas music Kelly Nelon did with “Sleep Baby Jesus” , “Christmas All Year” and “What Child is This”. Also I love given the Talleys “Family Christmas” a few spins. I agree with you, also this song well over done. Mary did know as an angel appeared to her to tell her she was with child.

  10. Lacey wrote:

    Ok, I went and read the article and was a little confused and was ready to swear up and down that the author “Didn’t Know” how to count. I mean it’s 2006, the words were written in 1984, the copyright is from 1991 on the music, and the article says the song is 18 years old! And then I noticed at the bottom that this thing is from 2002. Did they just rerun it? Great! Not only do Christmas songs repeat every year, so do the articles about them! lol
    I’m going to join in on the “BAH HUM BUG!!!!!!”

  11. Josh wrote:

    Yeah, not SG but the Newsong Christmas CD that came out this year is one of the best Christmas CD’s I’ve ever heard. Particularly “The Song of Christmas” and Bethleham Calls”

  12. Devon wrote:

    This is an interesting subject, and I’d like to address several things. First to Joe, it’s important to understand that the list of the Top 25 Christmas songs is a list of the Top 25 Christmas songs from ASCAP, which is one of the three top national performance rights organizations for songwriters, the other two are BMI & SESAC. This list doesn’t include any songs published with BMI or SESAC, and more importantly, doesn’t include ANY “CHRISTMAS CAROLS”, because they are all Public Domain (with most being written over 100 years ago). According to WorldNetDaily “Silent Night” is the most recorded song in history.
    Are there tons of Christmas songs that have nothing to do with Christ, yes. But rather than focus on that, why not rejoice that it’s the one time of year when on secular radio, in stores, on TV programs and in schools people DO hear the true meaning of Christmas in the many Carols that are sung in all of these “secular” venues.
    Also, songs like “Christmas Shoes” by Newsong, and “Mary Did You Know” are being played on secular stations as well as Christian stations.
    For a very interesting article on 12 of the most popular Christmas Carols, including the history of them, go to http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_404398.html
    , I think you’ll enjoy it.
    As for SG Christmas projects, Janet Paschal & Brian Free & Assurance’s are two of my favorite as they offer original and unique arrangements on classic songs, and offer “new” Christmas selections that are enjoyable to listen to.
    As for Mary Did You Know, it’s one of my favorites, and my favorite version is by a group from the Atlanta GA area, the Garner Family. They have a great arrangement that blends awe, reverance, and at the appropriate time, power in this “new Christmas classic”.
    And to Jeff, no one said Mary didn’t know she was with child, we all know the angel appeared and told her she was with child, even that He was the Messiah. But the Bible doesn’t say the angel told her of all the incredible miracles and things Jesus would do, and surely a common teenage girl, nor anyone else for that matter, could have imagined what all Jesus would do. After all, it was the first time God lived on Earth with us as man, and He did things that had never been done before.
    At this time of year it’s easy to be cynacial, but much more pleasant to be loving and full of compassion and joy. Here’s hoping all of you find the warmth of Christmas Joy, rather than the chill of the “Scrooge” that seeks to inhabit us all.

  13. JILL wrote:

    Well said Devon and Merry Christmas to you at this Blessed Season. While Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, we should all be joyful at this time of the year since it is our Saviours “Birth” day. If we stay focused on the real meaning of Christmas you will be compassionate and loving. Thanks for the post.

  14. Joe wrote:

    To Devon-

    Thanks for the heads up on the history of the songs. I will definitely visit that site, as hymn history is a favorite subject of mine. To correct you slightly- the top 25 songs recorded, mentioned in the article I read, were of the past 5 YEARS. They included some from all of the copyright houses you mentioned. My point was that in the last 5 years, even though “Silent Night” may be the most recorded ever, the old standards are simply not being included in the new recordings. That was my point. I just saw a trend, that parallels the world’s attitude towards Christ and Christians in general.

    To Jim2- Point well taken. I think they sang; but the Greek words don’t necessarily back up my thinking. However, the angels sang at creation (Job. 38:7), and I might imagine they had more to sing about at the Incarnation, than they did at creation!

  15. Jim2 wrote:

    Joe,
    True, I was thinking about something my wife pointed out from John MacArthur’s book, “The Miracle of Christmas” he points out the 2 times the angels are recorded as singing: a “cryptic” reference in Job 38:7 referring to the angels singing before creation, (thus before the fall of man, possibly before the fall of Lucifer) and again in Revelation 5:8-10, joining with the 24 elders singing a new song to the Lamb.

    However, I won’t argue that the incarnation is certainly reason to sing praises - Gotta love those Christmas Carols. What about the GVB rendition of “Glorious Impossible”?

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