Callahan and Cassandra Star Armstrong uploaded the candle-lit video of themselves singing their version of the song, which was first popularized by artist Kelley Mooney. In just one week, they have surpassed one million views on YouTube alone.
“It has been absolutely unbelievable, the outpouring of love from people all over the world,” said Callahan Armstrong, 19, in an interview with CBC Radio. “Globally we are reaching people and it just touches our souls knowing how many souls we’ve touched.”
The song follows the melodic pattern of Cohen’s original, but the lyrics tell the biblical Easter story.
Armstrong explained she and her 10-year-old sister recorded the song as a gift to their grandparents while their grandmother battles illness and the family remains separated for the holiday.
“My Nana is such a religious person and she hasn’t gone to church because of COVID and this really made her feel the Lord’s presence again,” said Armstrong. It’s been a special experience sharing this particular version of the song, which has long been a family favourite, she said.
“We’ve made friends with lots of people, and one of our friends that we’ve made a close connection with is an 89-year-old lady from Nebraska. We’ve been invited to sing at weddings, especially one in Oklahoma. So many pastors are asking our permission to share this in their church, which is so so lovely to hear.”
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The duo said the whole experience has made them feel closer to their community, which is something they’ve been missing since COVID-19 halted their usual volunteer opportunities, and forced Callahan to move home from university.
They hope to continue making videos and ideally hearing their songs played on platforms such as iTunes and Spotify.
Armstrong said the next song they plan to cover is Amazing Grace. It’s “another classic that soothes the soul,” she said.