Mary's Boy Child

Album: An Evening With Belafonte (1957)
Charted: 1 12


  • 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    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 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 seven weeks before becoming the only song to drop from #1 straight out of Top 10 the following week (after Christmas, when it tumbled from #1 to #12). The song returned to the charts the next two 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."
  • 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.
  • It was only at the last minute that Boney M decided to record and release this song. Lead singer Liz Mitchell said the process was hard work, as it involved "singing a track in the studio more than 50 times in one session, including lead, backing vocals, harmonies and all the oohs and aahs."

Comments: 5

  • Cueball from PaWhat an amazing song! I actually forgot about it and when i heard it on the radio, i think i cried a little. Beautiful, amazing, touching...
  • Cindy from Monroeville, PaJust try listening to this song without having your heart touched. IMPOSSIBLE!
  • Terry from Willmar, MnAfter 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?
  • Mary from Phoenix, AzLOL 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.
  • Mark from London, EnglandUpdated 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!
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Charlie DanielsSongwriter Interviews

Charlie discusses the songs that made him a Southern Rock icon, and settles the Devil vs. Johnny argument once and for all.

Songs About MoviesSong Writing

Iron Maiden, Adele, Toto, Eminem and Earth, Wind & Fire are just some of the artists with songs directly inspired by movies - and not always good ones.

Mike Rutherford (Genesis, Mike + The Mechanics)Songwriter Interviews

Mike talks about the "Silent Running" storyline and "Land Of Confusion" in the age of Trump.

Rick SpringfieldSongwriter Interviews

Rick has a surprising dark side, a strong feminine side and, in a certain TV show, a naked backside. But he still hasn't found Jessie's Girl.

Gary Brooker of Procol HarumSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer and pianist for Procol Harum, Gary talks about finding the musical ideas to match the words.

P.F. SloanSongwriter Interviews

P.F. was a teenager writing hits and playing on tracks for Jan & Dean when he wrote a #1 hit that got him blackballed.