Secret Garden, a Eurovision Song Contest winning instrumental duo, originally recorded this song in 2001 for their album Once in A Red Moon. Irishman Brian Kennedy contributed vocals. In the United States, the best known version is by Josh Groban, who got a big boost when he sang it on Oprah Winfrey's show in 2004. The Irish boyband Westlife was the 100th artist to record the song, and in 2005, their cover topped the UK chart and won UK Record of the Year.
This song was composed by Norwegian pianist Rolf Lovland, a member of the piano/violin duo Secret Garden. It was originally an instrumental piece called "Silent Story," but Løvland asked the Irish novelist and songwriter Brendan Graham to add lyrics after reading Graham's novel The Whitest Flower.
Michael Ball, Daniel O'Donnell and Russell Watson also recorded popular versions of this song.
In 2004, various versions of "You Raise Me Up" were played over 500,000 times on American radio.
In 2004, Josh Groban performed this song at Super Bowl XXXVIII in commemoration of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
In the 2008 UTV documentary Westlife Back Home, the boys admitted that "You Raise Me Up" was most likely the song that saved their career, which some thought was on the wane at that stage.
A digital download of Josh Groban singing "You Raise Me Up" with the African Children's Choir peaked at #76 in the Hot 100 in May 2007. It was taken from when Groban performed the song on the American Idol charity special Idol Gives Back. Three years previously he'd reached #73 with a different recording of this song.