Story Behind the Songs: Carols tell the story of event long ago

Pam Griffin

The songs of Christmas tell the story of an event that happened more than 2,000 years ago. Carols, sung all over the world in numerous languages, spread good cheer, a joyous spirit, and the real meaning of Christmas.

Mary, Did You Know

One of the newer Christmas songs, already a classic, “Mary, Did You Know” was written by Gaither Band singer and comedian Mark Lowry in 1984 as a monologue for a Christmas musical at his church.

Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man? Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Lowry told The Log the idea for the song came from his mother, who told him “if anybody knew Jesus was virgin born, Mary knew it.” The song gives a new viewpoint of the Christmas story by raising numerous questions about Mary and her knowledge of Jesus.

Joy to the World

The history of “Joy to the World” began when Isaac Watts, the “father of English hymnody,” translated the Psalms of David in 1719. Based on Psalm 98, the words reflected the missionary spirit of the time.

Lowell Mason, the “father of American church music,” set the words to music in 1839, but named George Frideric Handel as the composer to gain popularity for the song. The hoax was eventually uncovered and scholars now conclude that Mason composed the work himself.

“Joy to the World , the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare Him room, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven and nature sing, And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.”