Dolly Parton tops Christian charts for the first time with Zach Williams collab 'There Was Jesus'

Zach Williams and Dolly Parton's 'There Was Jesus' ascends 2-1 on Billboard's Christian Airplay chart.
Zach Williams and Dolly Parton's "There Was Jesus" ascends 2-1 on Billboard's Christian Airplay chart. | Sony

Country music icon Dolly Parton, along with CCM artist Zach Williams, has topped Christian music charts with "There Was Jesus,” a song bringing hope to millions amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Billboard, the duet increased by 2% to 10.5 million airplay audience impressions in the week ending Sept. 6, topping the Christian AC Songs tally.

Though she has amassed 25 No. 1 hits on Hot Country Songs, seven leaders on Top Country Albums, and two No. 1 hits on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, “There Was Jesus” marks Parton's first No. 1 on Billboard's Christian charts.

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"Having a No. 1 record at any time is a great thing, but having a No. 1 faith-based record during these crazy times is even greater," Parton told Billboard. "I feel humbled and blessed to be part of this wonderful song with Zach Williams. It does my heart good to know that we have touched the lives of so many people."

"I don't even know hardly what to say about all the No. 1s in all the different fields of music," Parton said. "Thank you God, thank you fans and thank you everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible."

Penned by Williams, Casey Beathard and Jonathan Smith, “There Was Jesus” speaks of God’s presence amid difficult times. Lyrics include the lines: “In the fire, in the flood/There was Jesus/Always is and always was.”

Williams previously told The Christian Post he “never in a million years dreamed” that he would be doing a song with Parton. 

“Obviously, that's a pretty big deal, but she's so down to earth,” he said. “She's been a champion from day one. She is really outspoken about her faith. This was something that she told me felt like a God-send. It's one of those things where you never know if you don't ask, so I'm glad that we did.”

In recent months, Parton has used her platform to help combat COVID-19 and comfort people amid the pandemic.

In March, shortly after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, Parton encouraged fans to refrain from fear, offering the reminder that God loves them. 

"I'm not making light of the situation,” Parton said in an Instagram video. “Well, maybe I am, because it's the light, I believe, that’s going to dissolve the situation. I think God is in this, I really do," she said. "I think He's trying to hold us up to the light so we can see ourselves and see each other through the eyes of love. And I hope we learn that lesson."

"I think that when this passes, we're going to all be better people," the “Jolene” singer continued. "I know that I have a positive attitude about it, as negative as it seems to be right now. So just keep the faith, don't be too scared, it's going to be alright. God loves us."

In a previous interview with CP in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the 74-year-old singer opened up about her Christian faith and how it drives both her charitable endeavors and her art. 

“Every day I pray for God to lead me and to take out all the wrong things, wrong people in my life, and bring all the right things, right people, and to let me glorify Him and uplift mankind — to do something in this world to make it a little better than it was. And let me be a light and a vessel to be used,” Parton explained.

“I just wanted to do what I can in this world to make things better if I can, and I'm in a position to do it. If you get in a position to help, you should help,” she added.

Amid trials, Parton said she finds peace and comfort knowing God’s hand is on her “all the time.”

“Even when I'm going through really hard times, I try to see what God is trying to teach me,” she said. “I just think, I'm supposed to be knowing something, I'm supposed to be learning something. I'm supposed to be becoming a bigger person, being taught responsibility or patience. ... I just know that everything I go through, I like to feel that I'll come out of it better.”

“It’s just like a story about the footprints in the sand,” the legendary singer said, referring to the famous poem about faith and perseverance. “[God] didn't leave me, or He was carrying me then. I either left Him or He was carrying me. So that's kinda how I look at that. When I think ‘where are you God?' He's like 'I'm down here, with the people.'"

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