The Psalms of John, Paul, George & Ringo

The first 45 (yes 45!) I ever bought was the Beatles’  “Love, love me do” when I was about seven years old. I bought it at Murphy’s Five & Dime for about a dollar. When I got it home I slipped it out of its sleeve and played it over and over.   I wasn’t as fond of  the song on the flip side, not sure why. But Oh My God! I still just love “Love, love me do”. I have used it in just about every wedding homily I have ever preached. I have even sung it from the pulpit. Badly of course.😊

My girlfriends and I had a lip sync Beatles band. We used hairbrushes and bed-posts for microphones. My cool friends got to be John and Paul. My funniest friend got to be Ringo. I got to be George. George who sometimes played bass and sang backup. Joani, the nerdy little girl singing in the background.

The Fab Four in those Fabulous Eaton Jackets

Beatlemania is a spiritual diagnosis. It started with all those hysterical teenage girls screaming when the Fab Four deplaned in New York. The Beatles’ star rose in the heavens when they starred on the Ed Sullivan Show. John, Paul, George and Ringo were only together for seven years (until Yoko broke them up!) And in those brief seven years they made thirteen albums from “Please, Please Me” in 1963 to  “Let It Be” in 1970. My little collection of 45s gradually grew to include all thirteen LP’s — all alphabetized in plastic milk cartons.

The classic music of the Beatles, for folks of my generation, rivals the likes of Bach and Beethoven. And not just for my generation. Paul McCartney is still rocking it out, making new music, and just finished a summer tour in 2022. Ringo Starr, too! And OH MY GOD!! I bet no matter how old you are, you will find Beatles tunes on all kind’s of people’s playlists. Spotify or otherwise.

There are 99 songs on mine! There is nothing more cathartic than cranking up Beatles tunes in the car. Nothing better than belting out Beatles tunes in the shower. (Both the car and the bathroom having such great acoustics!)  The Fab Four’s discography has a song for virtually every mood — every single song absolutely fabulous. Click on and listen to each of these tunes, and I promise you will have a religious experience.

“Yesterday, All My Troubles Seem So Far Away”

“Help! I Need Somebody”

“A Hard Day’s Night”

“I Feel Fine”

“We Can Work It Out”

“Nowhere Man”

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps”

The Fool on the Hill”

“With a Little Help From My Friends”

“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”

“Across the Universe”

“Strawberry Fields Forever”

“Yellow Submarine”

“Here Comes The Sun”

“Magical Mystery Tour,”

and of course,

“Let It Be”.

A song for all of life’s ups and downs and in-betweens, right?

This may sound a little odd but I believe that Beatles songs are kind of like psalms. Psalms are full of lament. Unloading on God they sing: Why have you laid me so low? Why am I stuck in this God-awful pit? But the lament lightens, darkness recedes, and joy breaks out all over. And something like an “alleluia” escapes the psalmist’s lips.

And I believe Beatles songs are also a musical balm for the mind. Don’t take my word for it. You can read all about it in  “Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain”.  Written by Oliver Sacks, the noted Harvard neurologist, “Musicophilia” documents how…

“We are a musical species no less than a linguistic one. This takes many different forms. All of us (with very few exceptions) can perceive music, perceive tones, timbre, pitch intervals, melodic contours, harmony, and (perhaps most elementally) rhythm. We integrate all of these and “construct” music in our minds using many different parts of the brain. And to this largely unconscious structural appreciation of music is added an often intense and profound emotional reaction to music.”

The inexpressible depth of music,” Schopenauer wrote, ‘so easy to understand and yet so inexplicable, is due to the fact that it reproduces all the emotions of our innermost being, but entirely without reality and remote from it’s pain….Music expresses only the quintessence of life and its events, never these themselves.'”

Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia

And as the book jacket says: “Music moves us, persuades us, and reminds us. Music can lift us out of depression and set us to dancing. Music is more than words. In fact, it occupies more areas of the brain than does language.”

We are musical creations. Music is a God damned miracle.

Yes, music is a miracle, especially Beatles music,  a balm for body and soul.


Mental Health Spirituality The Episcopal Church

eecvoices View All →

The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog

%d bloggers like this: