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Millard attests that "['I Can Only Imagine'] is one of the only songs I have ever written where there wasn't any mistakes, it was just written the way it is and left at that", Keyboardist Jim Bryson noted that "we were literally tearing down the stuff...
[Millard] and I were talking about arranging it differently and doing a slower version, so we just tried out a piano intro... It wasn't anything to do with me, I think it was just a God thing.
The song considers what it would be like to be in the presence of God.
Millard recalled the video's inspiration: "I just kept seeing all these people holding picture frames [at Mercy Me concerts] that are empty because we all carry these people with us in some way.It gained significant airplay on Christian radio formats before crossing over to mainstream radio formats such as adult contemporary and Top 40 in late 2003 and into 2004; to aid in promotion to these markets, a double A-side physical single (combined with "Word of God Speak") was released in 2003. In 2002, "I Can Only Imagine" earned the Dove Awards for 'Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year' and 'Song of the Year'; Millard earned the Dove Award 'Songwriter of the Year' at the same ceremony.It charted on several formats, including the Billboard Adult Contemporary (where it peaked at No. The song has been certified 2x platinum RIAA for sales of over two million digital downloads, and is the first (and so far only) Christian single to reach that milestone.Written and composed by 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.The song was first issued as a track on Mercy Me's 1999 album The Worship Project, which was released on an independent record label.