MercyMe's 1999 "I Can Only imagine" finally reached #1 this week! Propelled by the success of the movie "I Can Only Imagine," Mercyme's original version of the song climbs up Billboard's Hot Christian Song chart at #1.
"Imagine" marks the band's record-extending 13th No. 1 on Hot Christian Songs (which began in 2003; the track dominated Christian radio in 2001 and crossed over to a No. 5 peak on Adult Contemporary in 2003).
The song was first released as first issued as a track on MercyMe's 1999 album The Worship Project, which was released on an independent record label. The song was re-recorded and included on their 2001 major-label debut album Almost There as the fifth song on the album.
Written and composed by lead vocalist Bart Millard, the song, based around a main piano track, was inspired by the death of Millard's father and considers what it would be like in Heaven and to be standing before God.
Concurrently, new, more uptempo "Imagine (The Movie Session)" jumps 29-19 on Hot Christian Songs. It lifts 27-26 on Christian Airplay
"I Can Only Imagine" has also been covered by several artists. In 2002 Amy Grant released a reworked version of the song (titled "Imagine" and paired with "Sing the Wondrous Love of Jesus") on her album, Legacy... Hymns and Faith. In 2003, Jeff Carson and Kathryn Scott each issued variants of the song; Carson's version peaked at No. 50 on the Country Songs chart. In 2005 Wynonna Judd issued her form of the song;while in 2007 Emerson Drive provided theirs. The song was covered again in 2010 by Marie Osmond and in 2013 by gospel artist Tamela Mann.