One evening in December of 2018, Kelsey and I had just finished a riveting chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. We had been steadily plodding through the entire series for a couple years now, reading aloud to one another, reliving the tale that had so palpably awakened our imaginations as kids.
As I brushed my teeth that night, I reflected on how far we’d come—indeed, how far Harry had come. And perhaps it was the season’s influence, or perhaps it was the prompting of Fate herself, but I suddenly found myself murmuring under my breath, to the tune of that beloved song: “Harry, did you know?”
All of us go through life hoping for that singular, defining “light bulb moment”—the one so succinctly summed up by the timeless exclamation of “eureka!” But, elusive as these light bulb moments are known to be, we assume they won’t find us, and we quietly resign ourselves to the realm of the ordinary, not quite able to snuff out that secret hope that our own modesty will entice the muses to take pity and grace us with brilliance—not that this plan has ever worked.
And even as the light bulb went off with undeniable force, toothbrush still in hand, I doubted that it was even an original idea—the internet would surely prove to me in short order, as it did with everything, that it’s all been done before.
A quick search revealed a “Lily, Did You Know” but—to my complete astonishment—no “Harry, Did You Know” as far as Google could take me. And that was the moment when a playful idea became a moral duty.
So I got up my courage to casually throw the idea out to Kelsey. I doubt that my air of casualness masked my sincere feeling of ethical necessity, but I did my best: “The funniest thing just happened! As I was brushing my teeth, I just found myself humming the tune of ‘Mary, Did You Know’…except it was ‘Harry, Did You Know’! Isn’t that just hilarious? Because the thing is, Harry doesn’t know anything. Isn’t that the whole point? The whole story is propelled by what he doesn’t know…
I don’t know, I just thought it was funny.”
A moment of silence. And then Kelsey burst out laughing, her eyes flickering with excitement. The muses had taken pity. “Well, do you want to write it together?” she asked.
Our first co-write? Game on.
There was little doubt as Kelsey and I began writing “Harry, Did You Know” that it would be presented to my sister as a Christmas gift.
As a little brother, all the magic of Harry Potter was mediated to me by my cool big sister, Jessica. The physical books themselves only made their way into my hands after she had stayed up late into the night on the day of their release, tearing through them herself, learning and cherishing that secret knowledge of what happens next. And without fail, the next morning, positively enthralled by her newfound gnosis, Jessica would hand the book to me—here you go. It’s all yours.
But the task of compressing revelation after revelation from 4,224 pages of storytelling into the duration of one song—that was where the real challenge presented itself. Kelsey and I quickly realized we had no choice but to write seven verses, one for each book. We began immediately.
Before we knew it, Christmas Eve had arrived. We were about to give and receive gifts with my family, and “Harry, Did You Know” was one line away from being finished. My sister was in the shower. Kelsey and I called a huddle, and by the grace of God, we penned the final lyric just in time to sing it for my sister.
Jessica laughed. She cried a little bit. And for the time being, we were satisfied with our work.
Since I was busy recording and releasing my first project in 2019, “Harry, Did You Know” was, for a time, forgotten.
Then, the following December (2019), Kelsey and I gathered with some friends in our living room to plan an Advent service for our church. Somehow the subject of Harry Potter arose and with it, our idea for this creative endeavor and a first public reading of the lyrics. “Harry, Did You Know” was met with laughter and shaking heads and an especially enthusiastic response from J Lind. This has to be a thing, it was decided. It must come to be.
When I look back on it, this was the real impetus for what was to come. The encouragement of friends is central to the Harry Potter series, and so it is in the creation of “Harry, Did You Know.” It may have remained merely a funny idea we had one time were it not for the insistence of our friends that we move forward.
And then, just a few months later, as the pandemic began to ravage the world, Kelsey and I realized: if ever there was a year for “Harry, Did You Know,” it’s this one.
So we enlisted the expertise of Asher Peterson to orchestrate remotely recorded pieces into a well-ordered whole. We assembled a band: Kirby Waggoner, Cody Spriggs, and Evan Redwine. We asked some friends to lend their voices to the fun: Janie Townsend, Carly Bannister, J Lind, and Becca Jordan. And finally, Mindy Cook edited together the video of our dreams, which opened with perfect cover art from Leslie E. Thompson.
Two years later, a light bulb moment has been brought to full expression and fruition. Kelsey and I have laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and even cried a little bit, as we’ve watched this video take shape. This project has played no small part in restoring our joy during one of the darkest years on humanity’s record—it’s our sincere hope that it may do the same for you.
Click the names below to learn more about each person featured in this project:
Asher Peterson, Evan Redwine, Janie Townsend, Carly Bannister, J Lind, Becca Jordan, Leslie E. Thompson, Mindy Cook