You probably know the song, or at least one of its many covers. “Mary, Did You Know?” has been a constant Christmas classic since its release in 1984. You can’t turn on the Christmas radio station or shuffle a Christmas playlist without it coming on.
As beloved as this song is, it may surprise you that it is not unconditionally accepted by Catholics…and for good reason! Some have recognized that, despite its focus on Mary, this song employs some revisionist history on Mary’s role in salvation history.
Let’s take a closer look:
“Mary, did you know that your baby boy
Would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy
Has come to make you new?
This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you.”
Firstly, Mary did know much of what the song speculates about. Through her familiarity with Scripture, Mary knew a great deal about the identity of the Messiah, particularly His miracles, His deity, and His offer of salvation. Moreover, through the Annunciation, Mary was made aware that the Child she would bear would be the Savior of the world. Knowing what she did of the prophecies of the Messiah, Mary largely understood what the role of mother to the Messiah would require.
This is why her fiat, her willful and complete “yes” to Our Lord, is so striking. Knowing what would be asked of her—including the great suffering she would endure—Mary willingly showed herself the perfect handmaid of the Lord.
Secondly, the song speaks of Mary’s salvation as though it hadn’t happened yet. However, unlike us, Mary was preserved from all sin at the moment of her Immaculate Conception, in view of her Son’s future sufferings. Through the merits of her Son, applied to her in advance, Mary was created perfect so as to be the perfect vessel for the Christ Child.
While the song is erroneous in its speculation, it is not wrong for you to enjoy “Mary, Did You Know?” Just keep in mind the powerful reality of Mary’s foreknowledge and Immaculate Conception!
“Mary, Did You Know?” is not alone in its erroneous perceptions about Mary. Unfortunately, Our Blessed Mother has been misunderstood for centuries, even by devout Catholics! To know Mary is to know her Son, so it is important to understand the Church’s teachings on Mary. The powerful and clear book, Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines, is a wonderful account of the Church’s teachings on the Blessed Virgin Mary! Bring home a copy today from The Catholic Company!