Wynonna Judd’s cover of “I Can Only Imagine” literally moved many of her fans to tears. The country music superstar is known for pushing the boundaries of country music. She has performed and recorded heartfelt songs that deeply resonate with fans.

During one of her most moving performances of “I Can Only Imagine,” Wynonna Judd shared her personal connection to the song. She said that it saved her during a dark period in her life after losing her father, whom she had never met. 

Judd had an epiphany after listening to the beautiful song. “Though I never got to meet my Earthly Father, I will meet my Heavenly Father,” she said.

How The Song Became a Huge Success

“I Can Only Imagine” is a song by Christian rock band MercyMe and was written and composed by the band’s lead singer Bart Millard. It was originally recorded for the band’s independent album The Worship Project in 1999 and was only released on their major-label debut album Almost There in 2001.

The song has a directly Christian message which Millard drew upon the death of his father. “I was always told that if [my father] could choose, he would rather be in Heaven than here with me,” Millard said. “As a Christian, I believed that, but as an 18-year-old, it was a little hard to swallow. So the questions in the song came from me asking God what was so great about Him that my dad would rather be there.”

“I Can Only Imagine,” tells the tale of a man wondering what it would be like to be standing in front of God in heaven. 

“Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of You be still? Will I stand in your presence to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine,” Millard ponders.

The song became a huge success on Christian radio, spending two weeks at No. 1 on the Radio & Records Christian AC chart. It also became the most-played Christian single of 2002 and an unexpected mainstream hit in 2003, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Of course, the song also earned multiple awards after receiving positive reviews from music critics. It won the Dove Awards for Song of the Year and Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year during the 33rd GMA Dove Awards, also garnering Bart Millard the award for Songwriter of the Year. Millard won another Songwriter of the Year award at the 25th American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Christian Music, and so much more.

In 2018, the song returned to the charts after its story was adapted into a film of the same name, which tells the true story of Millard’s complicated relationship with his abusive father. The low-budget movie became a box office hit while the song quickly reached the top of the Billboard Christian Songs chart and peaked No. 10 on the Billboard Digital Songs chart. 

“I Can Only Imagine” has since become the most-played song in the history of Christian radio and the best-selling Christian song of all time. We’re so thankful that Wynonna Judd shared her heart with us in the form of a touching rendition of the song. You can watch her performance in the video below.