Behind the Song: You Raise Me Up

Happy Mother’s Day!

I thought this was a fitting song for the day.

You Raise Me Up almost vanished into obscurity, instead of becoming the hit song we know and love today.

Rolf Lovland

You Raise Me Up was composed by an Irish-Norwegian duo known as Secret Garden, performers of primarily instrumental music.   The music was composed by Rolf Lovland.  The song was originally written as an instrumental piece, with parts of the melody drawing on inspiration from Londonderry Air, which is the tune used for Danny Boy.

Loveland performed the song the first time at his mother’s funeral.  He noted “there’s something about the song people are embracing – which becomes emotionally strong. […] I believe people think of it as a song they use for their own stuff.”

The melody was originally titled “Silent Story”.  When in studio, the original mix was made with the violin.

Josh Groban

Lovland then approached author and songwriter Brendan Graham to write the lyrics.  Graham is said to have finished the song that very night with no rewrites needed.

The song was first performed in 2002 by the group, with Brian Kennedy, serving as lead singer.  The song was released on the Secret Garden album Once in a Red Moon.   When Brian Kennedy became ill and unable to tour, Jan Werner Danielsen, a Norweigan singer took his place and later recorded the song with the group.

The release had moderate success but did not chart.

In 2003, producer David Foster was introduced to the song and decided on an up-and-coming young musician, Josh Groban, to record the song.  Groban’s version made it to #1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart in early 2004 and remained there for six weeks.  This version was nominated for a 2005 Grammy Award.

When Groban performed the song at the 2004 Super Bowl, on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and various other television appearances  the song gained national and international exposure.

In 2007, Groban appeared on the BBC talent show Any Dream Will Do, and soon after charted in the UK.

Who raises you up?

The song has grown in popularity and music culture and been covered more than 125 times, although the Groban version remains the best known and loved.

Viewpoints vary on who raises them up based on the singer and listener.  Loveland stated everyone raises one another up, others point to a specific person and Josh Groban states that God raises him up.

Who raises you up?


  • Rollie Gutierrez

    ‘You Raise Me Up’ lifts up my spirit … praise be to God.
    This song is a lot similar to the tune of ‘For All My Days’, as sung by Mary Hopkin in the 1971 movie ‘Kidnapped’.

  • Rita Pinnock

    Ps. 41:10-12 (KJV)
    10 But thou, O Lord, be merciful unto me, and raise me up, that I may requite them.
    11 By this I know that thou favourest me, because mine enemy doth not triumph over me.
    12 And as for me, thou upholdest me in mine integrity, and settest me before thy face for ever.

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