Perhaps I'm the wrong person to be weighing in on this, because I simply don't like the song very much, but I was pleased by Jake Tawney's line-by-line analysis of the pop worship anthem "Mary, Did You Know?" at Roma Locuta Est.
The Charge Mary, a faithful Jewish girl, was guilty of ignorance regarding the facts about the coming Messiah… her own Son, Jesus the Christ.
The Prosecution Your Honor, I call Mary to the stand.
Mary, did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Mary Yes, I did. The Old Testament foretold that “He alone stretches out the heavens and treads upon the crests of the sea.” (Job 9:8)
The Prosecution Did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Mary Yes, I did. The Lord told our prophets, “Say to those whose hearts are frightened: be strong, fear not! Here is your God, He comes with vindication; With divine recompense He comes to save you.” (Is 35:4)It's a Protestant song, and so it's no surprise that it reflects an incomplete Marian understanding, but it does seem a bit twee to suggest that Mary might have been surprised by the divine origin of her son, considering the circumstances of His conception. ("How can this be, since I do not know man?")
The Prosecution Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new… that this child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you?
Mary Yes I did. The angel Gabriel greeted me saying, “Hail, full of grace (kecharitomene – Lk 1:28),” so I knew I’d already been delivered, actually. I then told my cousin Elizabeth that, “My spirit rejoices in God, my savior.” (Lk 1:47)
(Darwin was recalling last night how in his Confirmation program, the teachers were very fond of the "They Didn't Know!" school of theological speculation. "What would Jesus think if he could have seen 2000 years into the future? He didn't know there would be this huge church!"
"Well, yes he did," the teenaged Darwin replied. "I mean, he is God."
There was silence. "Yes, but did he really know?" insisted the teacher.)
Melanie Bettinelli feels that Jake is taking things too seriously, though, and comes through with an interesting defense of the song.
The rhetorical questions don't really imply that Mary didn't know the answers. Sure, on a literal level they are directed to Mary; but I think the listener isn't so much meant to linger on the state of Mary's knowledge so much as be drawn toward contemplation of the mystery of Incarnation. It reminds me of the list of rhetorical questions in Pink Floyd's "Mother". The "mother" character isn't really the point of the song, we're not meant to think about who the mother is or what she will think or how she will answer; she's just a rhetorical device.I don't think there can be any conflict, however, that this is not an appropriate song to play at Mass (and yes, I've heard it there), because it is not at all "tendentious to impose rigorous theological language" upon the words sung during the liturgy, especially when they conflict with a Catholic understanding of basic doctrines of the faith.
The song moves the listener away from the iconic scene of the Mother and child in the stable and toward the rest of the Gospel story. In a post-Christian culture where most people never move beyond the Christmas card picture to think about Who that little baby is, this song tries to get them to do that.
I don't think the song needs rebuttal because it isn't really making the claims you say it's making about Mary. The one detail that I agree is off is the line about "the child you've delivered would soon deliver you" and yet I can forgive the bad theology. First, because it's a pop song and not a hymn. Second, because the focus of the line is a play on the word "deliver" not on the "soon". And last but not least, Christ's sacrifice on the cross did happen in time, a specific moment that fell after the moment of Mary's conception, obviously. The grace of that act saved Mary outside of time. I think it is well within the bounds of poetic license to juxtapose the moments and is a bit tendentious to impose rigorous theological language and categories upon a song.