A couple days ago I attended my first Christmas party of this Christmas Season, hosted by the women’s group at St. John Lutheran Church, Hopewell. After a delicious meal we had the pleasure of hearing Ryan Hirschy sing Christmas carols and songs while Brad Byerly accompanied him on the piano. Their music put everyone in the Christmas spirit.
As Ryan sang Mary, Did You Know I thought about the first time I heard that song, back in the early 1990s. The first time I ever heard Mary, Did You Know was at a live concert, sung by one of its composers, Buddy Greene.
A friend had asked us if we would like to go to Fort Recovery to hear Buddy Greene, a Christian musician who is known for his harmonica playing. She and her husband had seen him perform several times and she knew that I liked harmonica music. Our son Jeff also went along and he was about 12 or 13 at the time. I would guess the year was about 1994.
I do not even remember where the event was held. I only remember that it was at a church in Fort Recovery. Chairs were set up in their fellowship hall where a small group had gathered that Friday night to hear some Gospel harmonica music. We had seats in the first or second row and we even got to meet Buddy Greene after the show.
Buddy Greene is quite talented and is a very good entertainer. In addition to the harmonica he played his guitar, sang, and talked. He had several harmonicas and played them like I had never heard a harmonica played before.
He played traditional harmonica numbers, such as Orange Blossom Special, as well as hymns, Gospel songs, and even a few classical pieces. I never thought of Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring as a harmonica number, but Buddy played it beautifully on his harmonica.
Toward the end of the evening he sang Mary, Did You Know, a song that he helped compose. That was the first time we had ever heard the song and it immediately became one of our favorite Christmas songs. Buddy explained that his friend Mark Lowry wrote the lyrics and asked him to compose a melody for it.
What a wonderful piece of music that has become a favorite Christmas song for many. I still get chills every time I hear it because the lyrics are so profound and meaningful.
The lyrics were written in 1984 and Buddy composed the music some time after. Mary, Did You Know was first recorded by Michael English in 1992 and has since been sung and recorded by many others.
So we got to hear it when it was a relatively new song and were privileged to hear it performed live by one of its composers.