Released in 1970, the Beatles’ “Let it Be” is a classic which I recently got my kids to listen to. It’s a classic written and sung by Paul McCartney. It reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and debuted at 6 on the charts. That’s a big deal for the Beatles being the highest debut of a Beatles song. Bottom line, it’s a classic. I decided to do my thing and review the theological implications of this classic song. Here are the lyrics.
McCartney begins the song by singing, “When I find myself in times of trouble / Mother Mary comes to me / Speaking words of wisdom, let it be / And in my hour of darkness / She is standing right in front of me / Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.” What does McCartney mean here? First off, when he says “Mother Mary” he is not talking about Jesus’ earthly mother Mary. At least, according to Paul McCartney the “Mother Mary” he refers to is his own mother. He said he saw her in a dream soon after she passed away telling him to let things go. This is the Mother Mary who comes to him, his own mom. With that in mind, the theological context of this verse is on the surface. His mother came to him in a dream and told him to “let it be” or “let it go.” Don’t hold on to the frustration, the bitterness, the things which are keeping you down in the darkness. In Matthew 6:25-34 Christ tells us to hold off on our worries. He tells us that whatever our situation may be, the Lord will handle deal with it in the end – trust Him and let it be. These are words of wisdom. The Bible tells us to cast our concerns up on the Lord and to not worry about them (Philippians 4:6, 1 Peter 5:7). He will handle them in the manner which best reflects His glory. We may not love the outcome, but it’s His outcome – trust in Him and let it be.
After saying “Let it be” and “speaking words of wisdom” a bunch, McCartney begins with the next verse by singing, “And when the broken hearted people / Living in the world agree / There will be an answer, let it be / For though they may be parted / There is still a chance that they will see / There will be an answer, let it be.” Though you may feel down, you can get through. The simplicity of this statement at times with this wonderful music feels profound. Let go of the things which are causing you issues and know the heartbreak, the pain is temporary and as Christians we are promised an eternal joy to come (Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Recognizing that this is temporary and that the pain of this world is not worth holding on to is important. Once again, if we trust in the Lord we will be able to get through these difficult situations (Philippians 4:11-13).
In the last verse, McCartney once again talks of his mother coming to him and telling him to let it be. He also speaks of light shining through the darkness. Christ is that light. He is the light of the world, He is the Lord who’s light can shine through the darkness of our life (John 1:1-5).
In the end, this song is a beautiful ode to overcoming difficulty in life. How to do it? We need to forgive, sometimes forget, and move on from the pain. It’s not easy, but the words of wisdom from the Lord cries to us to lay our burdens upon Him, trust in Him, and let it be.