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 UK two years later. On 29 November 2018 Icelandic Composer Jóhann Helgason filed a lawsuit claiming that the song is a copy of the 1977 song Söknuður
The song was originally composed as an instrumental piece and titled ‘Silent Story’. Some have claimed there is a strong resemblance to the traditional Irish tune ‘Londonderry Air’ to which Løvland has commented: "There are similarities but no plagiarism. When I made "You Raise Me Up," I asked myself - what is the inner essence of Irish music?" Løvland later approached Irish novelist and songwriter Brendan Graham to write the lyrics to his melody, after reading Graham's novels.
The song was made by and for Løvland himself and performed for the very first time at the funeral of Løvland's mother. He noted, "there's something about the song people are embracing; something which becomes emotionally strong. I believe people think of it as a song they use for their own purposes." The originally designated vocalist was Johnny Logan, himself also from Eurovision fame, who recorded a demo with an orchestra. However, a desire to distance the album from the ‘Eurovision Song Contest’ led to a change in vocalist.
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, Westlife, Daniel O’Donnell and Brian Kennedy. In 2004, the song was played more than 500,000 times on American radio. In late 2005, there were over 80 versions available in US alone, and it has been 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.
None of us achieves anything remarkable in this life without having benefitted from the help of significant others along the way. We all get to where we are on the backs of others. Through their encouragement, help and moral support; through them being there for us when most needed, believing in us and doing the things they did for us, we are all advanced in this life in some measure. Through these contributions by significant others in our lives, ‘We are raised up to more than we can be’.
All of us have had that teacher who believed in us. In my case, it was a Mr Paddy McNamara who was the sports teacher at St Patrick’s Catholic School in Heckmondwike where I attended between the ages of 5-13 years of age. Mr McNamara saw my potential as a budding footballer at the age of 10 years and put me in the big boys’ school football team playing alongside 13-15-year-olds.
I attended a Catholic Secondary School at a time when pupils were streamed according to ability and not age. Teacher, Mrs Brennan saw my educational potential then and encouraged me to take and pass my 11 plus exam at the age of 10 years (although I chose not to go). Instead, at the age of 10 years, I was taught with the class of 13-15-year-olds.
When I was laid up in Batley Hospital at the age of 11 years for 9 months, Mr McNamara got me Mensa tested and I did very well. The 140 plus score I received was both a curse and a blessing for me as I came from a poor family and needed to work at the earliest opportunity as the oldest of seven children.
At the age of 10/11 years, despite my youth, I was a hopeless romantic and I wanted to impress my school girlfriend, Winifred Healey, by giving her a proper diamond engagement ring to signify our love union and my intention to marry her when we were older. At the time, I frequently had my tea at my best friend’s house, Peter Lockwood. Peter’s parents were lovely people and apart from their son Peter, they also had a 20-year-old daughter called Margaret. Margaret was engaged and due to be married the following year. During one meal at the Lockwood house, I took the opportunity to steal Margaret’s engagement ring that she’d left on the sideboard while she washed the dishes. The next day I gave the ring to my school girlfriend, Winifred who proudly showed it off to all and sundry. Three days later, the police came to my house and I was taken to the Cleckheaton Police Station and given a stern caution.
The upshot was that Peter Lockwood remained my best mate, his sister Margaret split up with her fiancé shortly afterwards and forgave me, and instead of banning me from mating with her son and visiting their house, Peter’s mother and father still invited me to eat at their table thereafter as often as they had previously.
When I was 15/16 years, I stole for the last time. I was passing a green grocer’s shop owned by Mr, Northrop on Windybank Estate and seeing some tasty red apples in crates outside his shop, I stole a couple of apples and ran off. Mr Northrop saw me from his shop window and shouted my name after me as I ran away from the shop. As he knew me (I lived a mere 20 yards away from where his shop was located), I lived in fear that he would tell my father. About a week after my theft, I saw Mr Northrop approach our house as I looked out of the window. My mother was out but my father was in. When dad opened the door, Mr Northrop smiled and politely said, “Your wife asked me last week if I could give Billy a Saturday morning job in my shop to keep him out of mischief as well as providing him with the opportunity to earn a few shillings. I can set him on next Saturday and will pay him 2 shillings and sixpence for 4 hour’s work. All he will have to do is to weigh out bags of potatoes in the back of the shop.” I was stunned and my father replied on my behalf, “Thank you, Mr Northrop. Billy will be glad to take the job!”
I worked on Saturday mornings at the grocer’s shop for two years, mostly packing and weighing out potatoes for the first year. When Mr Northrop learned that I was clever at arithmetic, he allowed me to serve on the counter; a move that was greatly resented by the full-time worker, a 19-year-old teenager who had worked there since leaving school four years earlier. Almost two years into my Saturday morning work, money started to be stolen from the till on Saturday mornings; always on days when I was allowed to serve the customers alongside the full-time worker. Mr Northrop was obliged to ask each of us about the missing money and both of us denied that we had taken the stolen £5. I left the grocer’s shop about six months later, and on leaving I said to Mr Northrop who’d given me my ‘second chance’ when I most needed it, ‘It wasn’t me who stole the money! I stole your apples, but I’ve never stolen since.” He simply shook my hand, wished me well and replied, “I know it wasn’t, Billy. I know it wasn’t!”It was around six months later when the fulltime worker got sacked from stealing from the shop till.
My brains were fortunately put to better use in the mill than in any university I might have attended, and because over 200 men and women at 'Harrison Gardener's Dyeworks' believed in my ability to serve their interests and protect their working conditions, I became the youngest Trade Union Shop Steward in Great Britain at the age of 18 years.
At that time, I was also the youngest paid Youth Club Leader in Great Britain at the age of 18 years and that was down to the Youth Leader Harry Field. Harry had made me his unpaid deputy at ‘St Barnabus Youth Club’ at the age of 17 years but when he had an accident that laid him up for six months, he invited the Church board to appoint me to stand in for him as Leader and to pay me also. This was unheard of at the time and special permission from the council was required. They also expressed their belief that I could do the job. I felt very privileged.
These people who believed in me were essentially responsible for so much that happened to me in my life thereafter. It was they who helped to shape my character so much that at the age of thirty years, I decided to become a Probation Officer in order that I too might be one day become responsible for giving a person 'a second chance' at a time in their life when they might take advantage of it, as I did. It was such people who essentially believed in me that ‘Raised me up to more than I could be’.
Love and peace Bill xxx