A popular Christmas song has recently come under some scrutiny and people have even called the song "heretical".
I want to take a close look into the song and see why some people are bringing this into a debate arena.
Catholic Answers has this to say on a recent Thread:
“Mary Did You Know” is a very popular song with many Catholics. Many, however, are not aware that the song in heretical and should not be performed in Catholic venues. Below is a critique of this song by two orthodox priests.
Fr. M. Wrote:
Your suspicions regarding "Mary, Did You Know?" are correct. The very title of the song is misleading. We need to remember some of the effects of Mary's Immaculate Conception. One effect was that she received the same gifts that Adam and Eve had before the Fall. One set of gifts Adam and Eve had are the preternatural gifts, of which there were 3 kinds. The one of most interest to this discussion is infused knowledge. Infused knowledge is a special knowledge of the providence of God. It is the ability to see in the natural the supernatural of what God is doing. Mary saw the supernatural ramifications of all that Jesus said and did. Recall that Luke tells us that Mary "pondered all these things in her heart."
Also, Mary was "full of grace" from the moment of her conception. Her will was completely united to the will of God at all times. She experienced throughout her life the "transforming union", the pinnacle of the spiritual life possible here one earth. Souls in that state of union have a much greater knowledge and love of God, the spiritual writers teach us. Plus, Mary knew the Hebrew Scriptures intimately. So she knew that Jesus was the Incarnate Word of God (Lk. 1) as well as the Suffering Servant of Yahweh (Is 52-53). She also knew from Simeon's words that she would suffer with Him. Conclusion: she knew a lot more than is implied by the song "Mary, Did You Know?". Please do not include that song in your repertoire. Hope all this helps.
Fr. A, Wrote:
You hit the nail on the head re: the lyrics of the song. My concerns are the same as yours. The song is an appeal to the mystery surrounding the Incarnation and Nativity. That's fine, as far as it goes. The lyrics, however, leave the door open to erroneous and heretical opinions, thanks to their ambiguity. I would avoid performing or promoting the song for that reason."
Wow, Father M and A really do slam the song, but are they correct in their assessment? As far as their perspective on Mary, they are spot on, I point that out myself in my article, "The Woman Cried Out In Her Pangs Of Birth!" Something that should be considered when listening to "Mary Did You Know", it was written coming from a Protestant mindset. Even so, does that mean we take off our Catholic lenses and view the song as they do? Not at all! Our analysis should always keep our clear vision on.
I found this comment interesting as I looked at some of the back and forth comments regarding the Catholic Answers Thread:
"Love the line where she's asked if she knew when she kissed Him, she was kissing the face of God. IMO, Mary is being asked a series of questions. What is needed is the second part of the song where Mary answers....."Yes, I did Know." Mary's knowing is what makes her so very special. Because she knew He would be crucified."
Biblically speaking, Mary is said to have pondered these things in her heart. These things that we find in the Gospels that the song, "Mary Did you know" point to for our benefit. This is what the song's intention is to call to mind, our benefit as a result of these events in Jesus life. Here is the words of the song:
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water? 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.
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 the storm with His hand? Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod? When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?
Mary did you know.. Ooo Ooo Ooo
The blind will see. The deaf will hear. The dead will live again. The lame will leap. The dumb will speak The praises of The Lamb.
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation? Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations? Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb? The sleeping Child you're holding is the great "I am"
If you put on your Catholic lenses in listening to this song, the obvious answer is yes! Mary was given from her beginning an infusion of grace which would include the knowledge of what her yes implies for all of us.
From the scripture, St. Paul asks a question (1 Corinthians 10:15-16) that can be compared to the question coming from the song "Mary Did You Know":
"I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?"
The obvious answer to all of this is yes! Can you be inspired by the song, "Mary, Did You Know" based on what Jesus would do for us?
Yes, you do not have to deny Mary's understanding to this, the point of the song is really that these events are for our benefit and why Jesus coming through the humble Maidservant, the Virgin Mary, would come to rescue mankind.
I see the song as an allegory which is "a story, poem, or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, typically a moral or political one." To my Catholic family, should you have strong feelings over this song, my suggestion simply is to keep your Catholic lens on and use the opportunity to tell why "Yes" is the correct answer.
Merry Christmas everyone!!
"But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." Luke 2:19