El Shaddai (song)

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"El Shaddai"
Single by Amy Grant
from the album Age to Age
GenreContemporary Christian
Songwriter(s)Michael Card, John Thompson
Producer(s)Brown Bannister
Amy Grant singles chronology
"Sing Your Praise to the Lord"
"El Shaddai"
"In a Little While"

"El Shaddai" (sometimes styled "El-Shaddai") is a Contemporary Christian music song. It was written by Michael Card and John Thompson, using direct quotes from scripture as their inspiration, and recorded by Michael Card on his 1981 debut album, Legacy. However, it is more commonly associated with the singer Amy Grant, who recorded it on her 1982 platinum album Age to Age.[1]

The title comes from a Judaic name of God, usually translated as "God Almighty" (see El Shaddai). Approximately half the lyrics of the chorus are in the Hebrew language, which is rather unusual for a Contemporary Christian song. The recording was in the style of a performance ballad, but the song was subsequently published in some hymnbooks[2] and is occasionally sung congregationally.

The song was a hit single for Grant, reaching the top of the Billboard Christian chart.[1] "El Shaddai" won "Song of the Year" and Card won "Songwriter of the Year" at the 1983 GMA Dove Awards.[3] It was also named one of the "Songs of the Century" by the RIAA in 2001.[4]

Grant has recorded at least three different studio versions, and one partial version:

  • The original Age To Age version is primarily performed on piano, with harp and string accompaniment. Drums do not appear in this version until the climactic third chorus. This is the version used on most compilations.
    • Grant also incorporated a portion of the song (similar to the Age to Age rendition, but slightly more uptempo) into her Ageless Medley promo release. The medley was named for the Age to Age album, which in turn took its name from the lyrics of "El Shaddai".
  • Before releasing her album Behind the Eyes in 1997, Grant released a CD single of "Takes a Little Time"; the B-side was a newly recorded version of "El Shaddai". This version is notable for the prominent violin accompaniment used throughout the recording. This recording has never been made available on any album or compilation.
  • Grant recorded another new version of the song for her 2005 album Rock of Ages...Hymns and Faith. This version is more in a light pop style, with acoustic guitar and drums throughout, and features harmony vocals and acoustic guitar solo by Grant's husband, Vince Gill. This version is included in the WOW Worship: Aqua compilation, and Grant's 2015 compilation album Be Still and Know... Hymns & Faith.

"El Shaddai" has been covered by many contemporary Christian and gospel recording artists, including Pat Boone, Joey Sontz,[5] Winans Phase 2 [6] and Eden's Bridge, and Michael Card re-recorded the song for his 1994 compilation, Joy in the Journey. There also exist translated versions which combine Hebrew with other languages.


Michael Card's original lyrics included a line "Though the Jews just couldn't see/ What Messiah ought to be"; Amy Grant changed this to "Though the people couldn't see/ What Messiah ought to be." Most covers incorporate Grant's change, and even Card uses "though the people failed to see...".[7]

Translation of Hebrew lyrics[edit]

El Shaddai (אל שׁדי) is most often translated as "God Almighty".

El-Elyon na Adonai (אל עליון נא אדני) is a combination of two names for God, meaning "God Most High, please my Lord". (The 'ai' in 'Adonai' is a possessive.) Na (נא) is a particle of entreaty, translated "please" or "I/we beseech thee", or left untranslated.

Erkamka na Adonai is based on Psalm 18:1 (except for the "na," which is added) Erḥamkha (ארחמך) Adonai, "I love you, my Lord." Psalm 18:1 is the only place that the Hebrew Bible uses this verb for love in the Qal stem; this is normally an Aramaic usage. Hebrew uses this verb in the Pi'el stem in the context of compassion rather than love.

  • Possibly - most likely - "kan-naw" is from Exodus 34:14 meaning "jealous" - for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God...[8]

For more information on the translation, see Names of God in Judaism, El Shaddai, El (god), Shaddai (god) and Elyon.


Year Single Chart Position
1982 "El Shaddai" Billboard Christian 1

Music sample[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Amy Grant biography". Allmusic.
  2. ^ Among others, The United Methodist Hymnal publishes it as no. 123
  3. ^ "GMA Dove Awards - History". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28.
  4. ^ "Songs of the Century". CNN.com. 2001-03-07. Archived from the original on 2005-12-11. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  5. ^ "Album featuring El Shaddai sung by Pat Boone".
  6. ^ "Album featuring El Shaddai sung by Winans Phase 2".
  7. ^ YouTube of Card singing El Shaddai.
  8. ^ Strong H7067