The Story Behind Kenny Rogers’ Holiday Song “Mary, Did You Know”
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The Story Behind Kenny Rogers’ Holiday Song “Mary, Did You Know”

Written by Mark Lowry


Wynona Judd and Kenny Rogers collaborated on a remarkable rendition of “Mary, Did You Know,” a song that found its way into Kenny Rogers’ holiday album titled “The Gift.” Released in the early 1990s, this collaboration quickly garnered acclaim as one of the standout duets of the era. The song’s enduring popularity lies in its emotive portrayal of the nativity story and its evocative lyrics.

The origins of “Mary, Did You Know” trace back to the creative mind of songwriter Mark Lowry. In a stroke of inspiration, Lowry composed the song’s lyrics in 1984 at the behest of Jerry Falwell, a prominent American religious leader and televangelist. Falwell approached Lowry with a unique request: to craft a program for the Living Christmas Tree, a tradition that celebrated the holiday season with music and storytelling.


As Lowry embarked on the task, he delved into the depths of the Christmas narrative, contemplating Mary’s profound role as the mother of Jesus. It was during this contemplation that the concept for “Mary, Did You Know” took shape. Lowry marveled at the extraordinary idea of God taking human form and walking among mortals. His song delves into the uncharted territory of Mary’s thoughts and emotions during this divine journey.

One pivotal moment in Lowry’s creative process came from a conversation with his mother. Their discussion centered on the deep conviction Mary must have held about the extraordinary nature of her child, Jesus. Even as Jesus faced the crucifixion on Mount Calvary, Mary’s unwavering faith and composure served as a profound testament to the truth of Jesus’ divine identity.

The result was a series of thought-provoking questions that Lowry imagined he would ask Mary if he could sit down and converse with her. These poignant questions became the heart and soul of “Mary, Did You Know.” Yet, it would be seven years before the song found its musical counterpart.


Mark Lowry turned to his friend and fellow musician, Buddy Greene, to breathe life into his lyrical creation. Buddy Greene, renowned for his musical talents, composed a melody that perfectly complemented the soul-stirring lyrics. This collaboration between Lowry and Greene would go on to become a timeless holiday classic.

“Mary, Did You Know” transcended its origins and became a musical gem cherished across generations. Its profound lyrics and haunting melody have attracted numerous artists from diverse musical backgrounds to record their interpretations. In 2020, celebrated artists like Carrie Underwood and Dolly Parton lent their voices to this beloved holiday anthem, reaffirming its place as a cherished piece of the Christmas canon.

Kenny Rogers’ rendition of “Mary, Did You Know” remains a poignant and enduring tribute to the spirit of the season. Its ability to touch hearts and evoke contemplation about the nativity story continues to captivate audiences worldwide, making it a song that will resonate for years to come. You can experience the enchantment of Wynona Judd and Kenny Rogers’ rendition of “Mary, Did You Know” in the video below.

Kenny Rogers – “Mary, Did You Know”

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