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Mary's Boy Child


Harry Belafonte

Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Originally, this was a West Indian song written by Jester Hairston, a Julliard-trained songwriter who would later popularize the spiritual "Amen" during the civil rights movement in the United States. The song tells the story of the birth of Jesus. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
When this reached #1, Harry Belafonte became the first black male to have a #1 in the UK. It was the first ever song to sell 1 million copies in the UK, and the first ever British #1 record to have a playing time of more than four minutes (4:12).
This stayed at #1 in the UK for 7 weeks before becoming the only song to drop from #1 straight out of Top 10 the following week. After Christmas it tumbled from #1 to #12. The song returned to the charts the next 2 years at Christmas, going to #10 in 1958 and #30 in 1959.
During the Christmas season of 1978, Boney M. returned the song to the top of the British charts with the melody "Mary's Boy Child/Oh My Lord." According to Boney M. member Marcia Barrett in the book 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, "I always thought of Boney M. as being put together by a spiritual force and we liked doing spiritual songs. When we did Mary's Boy Child, we added a bit spontaneously at the end. As it worked, we left it in." Hence the record was listed as a medley of "Mary's Boy Child" and "Oh My Lord." (thanks, Edward Pearce - Ashford, Kent, England, for above 3)
At the end of 2007, Boney M's medley of this song and "Oh My Lord" was the 10th top selling single of all time in the UK. In addition Boney M's version of "River's Of Babylon" was at that date the fifth top selling single of all time in the UK, making them the only act to have 2 singles in the UK all-time Top 10 best sellers list.
Harry Belafonte
Harry Belafonte Artistfacts
More Harry Belafonte songs
More songs with girls' names in the title
More Christmas songs
More songs covered by the Glee cast

Comments (4):

Just try listening to this song without having your heart touched. IMPOSSIBLE!
- cindy, monroeville, PA
After years of research, this is the only Christmas song I can find that was written by an African/American. If anyone knows of any, I would love to know it. Also I can only find two Christmas songs written by women. "Santa Baby" by Joan Javitts and "Little Drummer Boy" by Katherine Davis. Any more?
- Terry, Willmar, MN
LOL mark!

Anyway, this is by far my favorite Christmas song. It relates the TRUE meaning of Christmas! And beautiful music and voices (Boney M's version is my favorite). Good video too.
- Mary, Phoenix, AZ
Updated by me as "Mrs Presley's Boy Elvis"!
Long time ago in Tennessee
So the record books they say
Mrs Presley's boy Elvis
Was born in January

Girls all swooned to see that face
The King was born that day
And rock will live for evermore
Because of Elvis P!
Crumpet fell to hear him sing
Listen to what they say
That rock will live for evermore
Because of Elvis P!
tHAT ROCK WILL live for evermore
Because of Elvis P!
- mark, london, England
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