“I Can Only Imagine” is a song by Christian rock band MercyMe. Written and composed by lead singer Bart Millard, it was originally recorded for the band’s 1999 independent album The Worship Project before being included on their 2001 major-label debut album Almost There. The song was the last to be written for The Worship Project; in writing it, Millard drew upon his thoughts about his father’s death. Lyrically, it imagines what it would be like to be in front of God in heaven; it opens with just a piano before building to include guitar and drums.
After being released on October 12, 2001, as the second single from Almost There, “I Can Only Imagine” became a major success on Christian radio; it spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Radio & Records Christian AC chart and became the most-played Christian single of 2002. It became an unexpected mainstream hit in 2003, peaking at No. 71 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 5 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart while also hitting top 40, adult top 40, and country radio charts. The song returned to the charts after its story was adapted into a 2018 film of the same name, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Christian Songs chart and No. 10 on the Billboard Digital Songs chart.