How Well Do You Know "Mary Did You Know?"


"Mary, Did You Know?" was written in 1991 by Mark Lowry and Buddy Green and has become one of the most-popular (and most-covered) contemporary Christmas songs of all time.

It's a modern Christmas classic and has been recorded by many artists over the years across multiple genres, including Clay Aiken, Kathy Mattea and more. This acapella version by Pentatonix is one of the most popular today.



Read ahead for an interview with the songwriter, Mark Lowry, about the writing process behind the song and learn why it took 7 years for him to find the perfect melody.

Explore the many different arrangements of "Mary, Did You Know?" and download sheet music for your favourite versions. You can also download "Mary, Did You Know?" via our PlayAlong iPad app, which combines interactive sheet music, pro-quality audio backing tracks and powerful practice & performance tools.


The following interview was originally conducted by Martha Lyon for AbsolutelyGospel.com.

AG: When was "Mary, Did You Know?" written? 

Mark Lowry: Well, the lyric was written in 1984, and the music was written in 1991 when I gave it to Buddy Greene on the Gaither bus one weekend to try to put music to it.

AG: Who's idea was the song? Where did the idea for it originate from...the inspiration?

Mark Lowry: Well, my Pastor asked me to write the Christmas program for our church, called The Living Christmas Tree, and I wrote some monologue to go in between the songs. I started thinking and wondering if Mary realized the power, authority and majesty that she cradled in her arms that first Christmas. I wondered if she realized those little hands were the same hands that scooped out oceans and formed rivers. I just tried to put into words the unfathomable. I started thinking of the questions I would have for her if I were to sit down & have coffee with Mary. You know, "What was it like raising God?" "What did you know?" "What didn't you know?"

Over time, [the song] just happened and I had the lyric.



AG: So, did you know right away that what you had would become a song?

Mark Lowry: I knew it would be a song someday. Others had tried to put music to it, but whenever I handed anyone the lyric to try to write the music to it I would tell them that I would be the one to decide if there was a marriage...the lyric is my baby.

AG: So did you contact Buddy about doing the music or how did that come about?

Mark Lowry: No, I just gave it to him...I already had it memorized, so I just wrote it down and asked him to see if he could try to put the music to it and Monday morning he called and said he had it...he sang it to me over the phone.

AG: So then, the song took roughly 7 years to come about?

Mark Lowry: Well, yes...the lyric, but the music only took Buddy about 30 minutes.

AG: Well, that's certainly good to know! Who was the first artist to record the song? 

Mark Lowry: Michael English and then Kathy Mattea. Let's see after that? Wow, I did know all of the first few there for awhile—there have been about 400 to record it to-date.





AG: That was my next question...how many had recorded it, to your knowledge?

Mark Lowry: I actually went into Walmart one Christmas and was looking at CDs. I realized that the song had gotten away from me when I saw Natalie Cole and Donnie Osmond had recorded it and I didn't even know it.





AG: Who is the most notable—or some of the most well known—to have recorded it to your knowledge? 

Mark Lowry: Well, Kenny Rogers and Wynonna Judd had the most popular version...there is actually a disco version done by Kristine W. that I heard had played in clubs all across the country during Christmas that year. It's actually pretty good because she enunciates the lyrics so well. My favourite version now, though, is Christ Church Choir. You can Google it and find it on YouTube...it is amazing.





Bonus Content

Jordan Smith sings "Mary, Did You Know?" on The Voice:



Cee Lo Green sings "Mary, Did You Know?" for The Bible Series:

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