"Mary, Did You Know?" At Mass

So yesterday I went to Mass with my wife's family in Philadelphia. Mass was nice except for the one year old in my arms who was the worst baby...evah.

But following the Eucharist, the song was, "Mary, Did you Know?"

Now, I've never given the song a moment's thought. To be honest, I think I'd only heard it once or twice on an Amy Grant Christmas CD. But I'd certainly never heard it before in Mass. My nine year old always wants to sing along in Mass so I quickly found the page for her to read the words. And I read the words over her shoulder.

Now one thing unsettled me from the start which was the questioned ignorance of Mary in the song. Not that I know what Mary knew or didn't know but the question presumes that Mary might have been wandering into this whole Theotokos thing blind. Exactly what knowledge was imparted to her is a mystery but in the Magnificat she does say,
"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name..
Doesn't exactly sound like she's completely clueless does it?

But the song itself is definitely a Protestant song. The writer Mark Lowry is an evangelical and I think the song shows it. Look, I'm not against the song. I think it's good that Protestants are contemplating Mary. But the lyrics are simply not appropriate for Mass.

Here's the lyrics that jumped out at me:
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you
Now, according to Catholic doctrine, Mary was born without original sin. Deliverance had already been acquired.

Now, I'm fairly sure that 99.8 percent of the people attending Mass didn't focus on the words and it likely won't corrupt anybody's faith but isn't it a bit wrongheaded for that song to be sung at Mass?


  1. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

    Qui cantat, bis orat

    Put them together and it's easy to see why so many Catholics have no idea what they believe.

    God Bless,

  2. Yes, inappropriate. I would argue not just in content, but in form. I can't imagine that that song, with whatever lyrics, would be suitable for Mass.

  3. But that deliverance was, outside of time, brought about by his death at Calvary, so that statement is really not that far off.
    And, for the rest of it....I've thought a lot about this song. I'm a convert to the faith and cringe at most things protestant. However, I do not think this song is as heretical as many are quick to scream it is. I think it's more of misunderstanding. After all, the protestants don't have the Tradition and theology that goes along with the teaching of Mary, so they're bound to get a few things wrong.
    The pervasive question of "did you know?"....Yes, Mary knew that she was the mother of our Emmanuel, but did she know every incident that was going to occur in his life or how it would all happen? While she was intimately united through her espousal with the Holy Spirit and her preservation from Original Sin, the Church doesn't teach that she knew everything that would befall her son. And thus, is the "did you know?" really that far off? Let us pray for protestants that as they continue to ponder Mary and her thoughts, they will grow closer to Christ and His true Church.

    That being said...I don't think it's at all appropriate for Mass. Sacred Liturgy....sacred music.

  4. It's true that his saving death at Calvary had yet to occur, so it might be correct to say that she will be delivered. However, Mary's subjective salvation, in time, had already occurred; the fruits of an event that had yet to occur. Therefore, it is probably fair to view this song as suggesting that both the objective(Christ's death) and Mary's subjective(personal application of) salvation had not yet occurred.

  5. I had to laugh when I saw this post, as I have the same reaction to this song!

    The other night on our diocesan Catholic TV station (not as good as it sounds, as much of the content is non-Catholic/non-religious, though the station is owned and operated by the diocese), there was what appeared to be a Catholic school group singing this song in what appeared to be a Catholic church! I even commented to my husband about the song being inappropriate, but he had never heard it. I flipped the station pretty quickly.

    It's sad for me to see such disrespect for Our Lady, especially as these days bring us the readings about her from St. Luke's Gospel. What a beautiful meditation can be had on these passages!

    May God bless you all with a Merry Christmas! Blessed Mother, pray for us!

  6. What exactly do these prots think that the angel was on about at the Annunciation? Or is that one of the bits that they redacted from their bibles?

  7. Martin Luther spread his heresies by composing popular hymns...

    ...so did Arius...

    Yes, it does matter what we sing.

  8. Actually, this song sounds a lot like the Maronite Sedro for the Annunciation, except we sing about Mary cowering in doubt and worrying if she's pure enough to bear Christ.

    By the way, I'll post it later today, but right now I have to go take the GRE.

  9. Good luck with the GRE, Eo. I'm nervously awaiting my LSAT results.


    Um, I'm sure the Protestants who wrote it thought of Jesus saving Mary from her sin, but I don't think the lyric is actually that big a problem. Mary and Jesus both, though, perfect, still had to deal with the effects of sin, right? So, you could say he's delivering her from the effects.

    That said, yeah, the line I find a bit annoying, but not as much as the many versions of the song where people ham it up. I hate hamming up or overstylizing any song, and some church singers (and a lot of Christian recording artists) do it, a lot. To me, that's distracting. If that song is sung gently and humbly I don't mind it nearly so much, but when people make it a showpiece it's really grating.

  10. I think it's left open...it never says "Mary DIDN'T know"...more along the lines of "she pondered these things in her heart".

    Also, it acknowledges her immediate "Yes" to God and show amazement that she was so open to His Will, almost like "When you said yes, did you really know what you were fully getting into? And even though you didn't know/understand everything, you still said yes? Wow, what faith!" I find that she's held up as a role model of faith in this song...and the "salvation out of time" explanation seems valid enough/innocent enough.

    That being said, of course it doesn't belong in Mass.

  11. The composer used to live in my parish - which meant that we got to sing it twice as a congregation and listen to him do a solo every year.

    Hated each time that I heard it.

    Now it's made its way into muzak - heard it in a store. Talk about creeping heresy.

  12. It doesn't belong in mass, but I never thought it was that bad. Mostly because I've always imagined Mary smiling at each of those questions and saying "Yes, I did."

  13. We have done it at mass but changed that line. So you are not the only one thinking about such things.

  14. I could think of much worse songs, but it is still inappropriate for Mass. Is it a little theologically shaky? Yes. But, it is coming from a different theological perspective on Mary. So, it seems a bit over-reactive to me to complain about one line, when the intended audience isn't Catholic.

    Again - I don't think it is appropriate liturgical music. But, the song is better than a host of other Christmas songs.

  15. I'm also okay with the line about deliverance as God operates outside of time and Mary's anticipatory grace of sinlessness was merited through Christ's passion.

    However, the question, "Mary did you know?" irks me because, yes, she did know. The angel told her so. Joseph knew too. The question isn't just un-Catholic, it's unbiblical.

    However, the Kathy Matea version is sure pretty, as well as the rest of that album.

  16. ...especially the line about kissing the face of God. It's goose-bumpy, for sure.

  17. ...It reminds me of a prayer to St. Joseph that I've been using for a few years:

    "...I dare not approach while He reposes near they heart. Press Him in my name, and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us."

  18. I'm starting to lean toward Lori's line of thinking here. It's not, "You're just an ordinary woman, did you know that Jesus was Lord?" But more like, "Did you realize the greatness of all that He would do when He grew up?"

    Still, some lines answer yes, others no.

    Q:Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
    A: No, probably didn't foresee every miracle.

    Q: Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
    Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
    This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.
    A: Yes

    Q: Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
    Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
    A: No

    Q: 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.
    A: Yes

    The blind will see, the deaf will hear and the dead will live again.
    The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

    Q: Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
    Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
    Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
    This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am.
    A: Yes

  19. I actually really enjoy this song. I think I was particularly sensitive to the song when I heard it was written from a Protestant's point of view, but from studying the lyrics I really don't find it offensive, as a Catholic. I agree with Daddio/Lori in that I think the song is more reflective of Mary's awe in raising Jesus than it is an implication of her ignorance/sinfulness. I think some of these things she knew, obviously, and others she didn't, but the overall tone (to me) is reverent toward her, more like questioning the total mystery of Mary. I mean, these are questions I would want to ask Mary myself! I myself wonder if she fully realized what she was getting herself into, not that she had no idea that she was the mother of the Savior.

    Why would it not be appropriate at Mass?

  20. As a former Baptist who loved Mary, Did You Know? back then, this song has actually sparked a lot of thought on my part over the years.

    I don't think the "will soon deliver you" line is problematic from a Catholic perspective. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception itself states that Mary was preseved free from all stain of original sin "in virtue of the merits of Christ." If the I.C. were viewed otherwise, the whole idea would be heretical (which, of course, it isn't).

    Also, I think we should keep in mind that it is amazing that here is a song about Mary loved by Protestants. Which is pretty darn cool. I have heard of Protestant churches changing the line "the Babe, the Son of Mary" in What Child Is This to "the Babe, the Son of God" because the original gives too much attention to Mary.

    Would anyone like some Nestorianism with their coffee?

    As for it's appropriateness at Mass, I'll leave that to others to decide. It strikes me that most of what we sing in most parishes isn't ideally suited for the liturgy.

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  23. You're going to the wrong parish! come to were I am and you'll never ave to deal wit this kind of stuff.

  24. (Sorry for the deletions, I keep making typos!)

    Why would it not be appropriate at Mass?

    Because regardless the theology, the lyric is puerile and amateurish ("water" does not rhyme with "daughters") and the music insipid.

    With a musical legacy that includes Gabrieli, Mozart, Schubert and Bruckner, it is appalling so many Catholics forsake it in preference to ghastly processed music-product like "Mary Did You Know?" for use in our Holy Mass.

  25. Back when I used to attend my territorial parish, they sang this song. My 16 year old daughter, when she heard the line "will soon deliver you" said to me sotto voce, "already has delivered."

    She had already received the benefits of Christ's death which was still, in our human timeline, to happen. For her delivery from sin to be in the future implies that at that minute she was in sin. Therefore I think the line is borderline heretical. Borderline because you can parse it in such a way as not to be heretical. But the person who wrote the song clearly did not have in mind Mary Immaculate.

    Joe! many people have no choice but to attend a parish which features puerile ditties like this, and worse. I have a choice because I live near a city that 100years ago started having a large influx of eastern european immigrants. Therefore there are Eastern rite parishes I can attend. If I lived smack in the middle of my diocese, I would have no choice. People with families and jobs to consider can't just up and move to a place where the church is in better shape. Any many do suffer considerably from this.
    Susan Peterson

  26. Could be worse--you could still be singing Awesome God and El Shaddai.

  27. I heard this song used last year at Midnight Mass.

    It is certainly problematic from a Catholic theological view. Most of it could be understood in quite an orthodox manner. At the Annunciation Mary would have known little and was responding in faith.

    Mary's deliverance though was a fruit earned in anticipation of Jesus death and our salvation. She was already delivered from sin from conception.

    Though you can't really expect a Protestant song to get this right. The song doesn't really bother me that much since at least Protestants are thinking about Mary at all. In a Catholic Church though there are so many much better songs and I don't mean "Hail Mary, Gentle Woman" which has the most insipid melody.

  28. I often try to focus on the glass being half-full, because it seems so easy for Catholics to become Eeyore. It's hard to bring people to Christ when we lack true joy. Something that some Catholics can learn from our Protestant brothers and sisters. How do we Catholics bring fullness of Christ's teaching if nobody wants to listen to us grumble. So here's how the glass is half-full...

    "When you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God." professes His Divinity. This was the inspiration for a Protestant painting, "Kissing the Face of God." This is a good thing.

    The repetition of "your baby boy" helps people realization of how special and extraordinary our Mother Mary is. Nobody else can claim that intimate relationship with Him. The only one close could be St. Joseph. Does it provoke deeper thought? Another good thing.

    Now, the problem with the verse... "This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you" is the interpretation of the word "deliver." "Deliver" has several meanings. It could be accurate if it were implying that she will be delivered the same way Jesus was delivered. She was also delivered to the "wolves" (by suffering along with Him) as well as delivered from this sinful world (through her assumption). Unfortunately, we all know how it's meant by Protestants and other Catholics who don't know their faith. Maybe if we thought more deeply, we could convert more Protestants.

    If more people understood (starting with Catholics first) that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the absolute highest form of prayer on this planet, I think we could do better (not just talking about the hymns either). I think that we often forget that the entire Holy Mass is a prayer from beginning to the end... not just a formal get-together with a series of songs, readings, responses, etc. We are literally in communion with ALL of heaven... Angels, Saints, and umm ... GOD! I think we can and should do better.

    One final note... if you leave your liberal parishes, who will be there to guide the lost sheeple? Don't leave it up to the lost shepherds. I don't blame any of you though... I've got 8 children (12 yrs. and under). I don't want to lose any of them either. If it were just my wife and I, I would have to stay on the front lines of the battle. God Bless all of you and yours.

  29. The theology of this song, I think, is OK--Jason is exactly right. The bigger problem is that hymns are the FIFTH option given in the rubrics for music at Mass. That means that the Church recommends 4 other things as more proper to the Mass, and the 5th option is exactly that. The more appropriate option is sing the "propers" of the Mass--namely the Intorit, Offertory and Communion antiphons. These are actually the texts given by the Church for each Mass and relate to the readings. Yet almost no one knows they exist!

  30. "water" does not rhyme with "daughters"

    In Philadelphia it does. :-)

    The bigger problem is that hymns are the FIFTH option given in the rubrics for music at Mass.

    Sorry, but the horse has already left that barn. I agree with you, of course, but I don't think you're going to get any traction with your parish priest or local ordinary. Better to expose this song for the Protestant junk that it is.

  31. I agree with several other commenters (Lori, Jenny, Sarah, etc.) that Jesus the infant would grow up to the cross and the deliverance that led (out of time) to the Immaculate Conception. I've always thought that.

    This song may not be appropriate for mass, but it is prayerful, more so than most songs on the radio now. I love it. In fact, last week I posted someone's YouTube version on my blog, complete with snippets from gospel movies.

  32. Anonymous said...

    The theology of this song, I think, is OK--Jason is exactly right. The bigger problem is that hymns are the FIFTH option given in the rubrics for music at Mass. That means that the Church recommends 4 other things as more proper to the Mass, and the 5th option is exactly that. The more appropriate option is sing the "propers" of the Mass--namely the Intorit, Offertory and Communion antiphons. These are actually the texts given by the Church for each Mass and relate to the readings. Yet almost no one knows they exist!

    They exist at my parish. You probably have to go to a 'traditional' Church to find them sung. At our Church, they are sung in Latin and we have the English text to read in our missals. Sad to see that they are not remembered by most modern Catholics.

  33. The composer is a "Methodist-rite" Catholic. So we can't blame the Protestants only the Catechists.

    I knew the man.

  34. The composer is a "Methodist-rite" Catholic. So we can't blame the Protestants only the Catechists.

    Do you mean the man who wrote the music (Buddy Greene) or the man who wrote the lyrics (Mark Lowry)?

    What is a "'Methodist-rite' Catholic"?

  35. This would be an interesting conversation but for the tone of many of the posts. Why does "Protestant" come off sounding like profanity? These are our brothers and sisters in Christ. This gross disdain surely leads no one to Catholicism.

    Shame on us.

  36. Do you like the Beatles:"Let it be."? This was sung at the end of Sunday Mass over in this town.

  37. None of this is as bad as suffering through Catholic school "Christmas Concerts." I use both terms loosely. Of course, tonight's included Mary Did You Know - it was one of the better selections, but waaay too hard for third graders.

  38. I agree with the comments about the appropriateness of the song at Mass as the line about the time deliverance is definitely unorthodox. I also agree that we shouldn't get too grumpy outside of Mass about this issue; I think it's wonderful that protestants would sing this song and, as I see, seeking an understanding or looking to Mary's faith as model. Another observation, though, is that the protestant songs about Mary are not as good as Catholic songs; I think it's because they are too afraid to approach her and fall into what they characterize as idolatry. I think these songs are signs of an awakening that I hope continues.

  39. Not appropriate for Mass but . . .

    It seems to me that the questions are rhetorical, the answer is yes.

    While the composer may have thought he was attacking Catholic teaching, the teaching is is that Mary was saved by the foreseen merits of Jesus Christ, the joke is on the composer if we have halfway decent catechesis. (A whole different problem)

    But if Mary’s little Babe is the “The Great I AM” is she not the MOTHER OF GOD.

  40. Timing is everything. I wrote my first post before Christmas. My parish decided for the first time to have us sing this song at Mass during the Christmas liturgy.

  41. Why would this song offend anyone? This is a song that reaches out to the whole world with the message of Christ, and yet we have catholics getting offended. Whether protestant or catholic who cares! This is masterful written song. If you read the Bible carefully, you will find that Mary is very human, not divine like the catholics want to make her. There is nothing in the Bible that hints she ascended into heaven. She is dead like all the rest of humanity waiting to be ressurected at the end times. She also had more babies which were the brothren of jesus. Not to be confused with the disciples.

  42. I think the song is great. There is no scriptural support for Mary being without sin.

  43. I think the song is wonderful. I do think those who feel the need to be a critic, cause far more harm than they think.

  44. I think the song, "Mary Did You Know", is very moving. As a senior person who's been a Catholic her entire life, I find this song not at all divisive, but beautiful and spiritually inspiring.

    Nona Higgins

  45. thank you,,,, this song has to be offensive to Christ, it denies the immacualte concepetion ,,,,, period, why is there further discussion?


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