"You Raise Me Up" is a song that was originally composed by the duo, Secret Garden. The music was written by Secret Garden's Rolf Løvland and the lyrics by Brendan Graham. After the song was performed early in 2002 by the Secret Garden and their invited lead singer, Brian Kennedy, the song only became a minor UK hit. The song has been recorded by more than a hundred other artists including Josh Groban, who popularized the song in 2003; his rendition became a hit in the United States. The Irish band Westlife then popularized the song in the United Kingdom two years later. "You Raise Me Up" is sung as a contemporary hymn in church services. The song was originally written as an instrumental piece and titled "Silent Story." Parts of the melody resemble the traditional Irish tune Londonderry Air, (especially the opening phrase of its chorus), which is best known as the usual tune to the 1910 song Danny Boy. Løvland approached Irish novelist and songwriter Brendan Graham to write the lyrics to his melody after reading Graham's novels.
The song was written by and for Løvland himself and performed for the very first time at the funeral of Løvland's mother. Here 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.”.
In 2002 it was released on the Secret Garden album Once in a Red Moon, with the vocals sung by Irish singer Brian Kennedy, and sold well in both Ireland and Norway. Originally, Brian Kennedy was supposed to follow Secret Garden on their Asian tour in 2002, but fell ill, and could not attend. He was replaced by Norwegian singer Jan Werner Danielsen, who also later recorded the song together with Secret Garden. A demo version of this recording was released in 2010, on Danielsen's posthumous compilation album One More Time - The Very Best Of, which included several previously unpublished recordings. Although the original version did not chart internationally, the song has now been covered more than 125 times, with the most successful covers being by Josh Groban (#73 in the US and #1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart), Westlife (#1 in the UK), Daniel O'Donnell (#22 in the UK) and Dutch Popstars winner Wesley Klein (#4 in the Netherlands). The song has also found success as part of a three-song EP entitled "George Best - A Tribute" by Peter Corry and the song's original vocalist Brian Kennedy, which reached #4 in the UK.
In 2004, the song was played more than 500,000 times on American radio. In late 2005, there were over 80 versions available in USA alone, and it has become nominated for Gospel Music Awards four times, including "Song of the Year."
On 21 September 2006, "You Raise Me Up" became the first song to have sold over 76,000 copies of the score on the popular sheet music website. "You Raise Me Up" was the lead single from Westlife's fifth studio album, Face To Face. This version is one of the most successful covers of the song, peaking at No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart, the only version to do so. This was the band's 13th number-one single as well as the first single to be released following the departure of Brian McFadden from the group. The single sold 540,000 copies on UK so far. Westlife performed this song with Secret Garden at the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize concert. On December 11, 2009, they performed it again at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize concert celebrating US President Barack Obama. When Louis Walsh suggested the band to record it, Filan Egan Byrne and Feehily were against it saying it was a church song, and would not be a success. They also said they did not want to record it. However they have since claimed in 2011, six years after the single's release, that the song changed their careers and were glad they recorded it.
The backing track is re-used in the Spanish version of this song, "Por Ti Sere", performed by Il Divo in their Siempre album.
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