Through Heaven's Eyes
"Through Heaven's Eyes" is a song from the 1998 Dreamworks film The Prince of Egypt. The film version is performed by Brian Stokes Mitchell (3:42), while the pop single version is performed by K-Ci and Jo Jo (5:05). Stokes Mitchell provides the singing voice for Danny Glover's Jethro, Tzipporah's father and Moses' future father-in-law. Music and lyrics are by Stephen Schwartz.
Stephen Shwartz explains the genesis of the song and its context within the movie:
Though Heaven's Eyes" is my favorite of the songs in PRINCE OF EGYPT, it was actually the fourth song I wrote for that spot in the movie! The first three were more comedic and were essentially plot-driven, encompassing Moses' time in Midian. The first was called "All in the Attitude" and was kind of a comic number about how poor they all were, and the next two, called "Don't be a Stranger" and "One of Us", were about welcoming Moses into the tribe. For a while, we were going to go with "One of Us", but as the picture developed, Jeffrey Katzenberg began to feel that we needed something more philosophical and thematic in that spot...[and] reflect the change in Moses' way of thinking...As we all began to think about it, one of the directors, Steven Hickner, came in with a poem called "The Measure of a Man", and I based the lyric for the song on the philosophy in the poem...The ideas contained in that poem, translated into "Midianese", became the basis for the song. Some of the specific images (the "stone on the mountain-top", for instance) were certainly influenced by my trip to the Sinai desert in Egypt...The casting of Stokes was partly at my suggestion, since I knew him a bit, but it was a group decision.
The Schwartz Scene explains Stokes Mitchell's recording of the song:
Simon Wells, one of the movie's directors, describes the moment when the singer recorded the song. "He just came in and set the whole studio on fire." Brenda Chapman, another director on the project, adds, "It was great. I turned around and looked at everyone in the booth as he was singing, and people just had these big grins on their faces, because he WAS Jethro when he was doing this." Brian's dynamic rendering of "Through Heaven's Eyes," in concert with the spectacular, colorful animation, brings the scene and character to life in one of THE PRINCE OF EGYPT's most breathtaking sequences.
The song "expresses in vivid metaphors [Jethro's] philosophy and approach to life. Jethro sings directly to Moses, and convinces him to re-examine how he views his existence. "So how can you see what your life is worth/Or where your value lies?/You can never see through the eyes of man/You must look at your life/Look at you life through heaven's eyes.""
Filmtracks wrote "While "Through Heaven's Eyes" is a common favorite for listeners, its folk rhythms betray the resounding voice of Brian Stokes Mitchell." The site added "the "K-Ci & Jo Jo" version of "Through Heaven's Eyes," will be intolerable for most film score collectors." Soundtracks reviewed wrote "Brian Stokes Mitchell performs the track "Through Heaven's Eyes" outstandingly, his voice carrying all the identity of the character he plays in the movie. It is perhaps the most 'fun' track on the album". SFGate deemed it a "philosophical croon". Entertainment Weekly described the song as "the Hava Nagila-style campfire rave", and suggested it "wears much better" than "the Oscar-winning When You Believe".