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George Harrison‘s “My Sweet Lord” was inspired by a song that gave George a religious experience. Subsequently, “My Sweet Lord” became a hit once in the United States and twice in the United Kingdom. The song appeared on a hit album.

"My Sweet Lord" singer George Harrison with a guitar
The Beatles’ George Harrison | Getty Images

George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ was inspired by a song that really impressed the quiet Beatle

According to the 2013 book George Harrison: Behind The Locked Door, George discussed the origin of “My Sweet Lord.” “I remember Eric [Clapton] and [rock duo] Delaney & Bonnie were doing interviews with somebody in either Copenhagen or Gothenburg, and I was so thrilled with [The Edwin Hawkins Singers’] ‘Oh Happy Day,'” said Harrison. 

George had a religious experience while listening to “Oh Happy Day.” “It really just knocked me out, the idea of that song and I just felt a great feeling of the Lord,” he said. “So I thought, I’ll write another ‘Oh Happy Day,’ which became ‘My Sweet Lord.'”

A gospel singer revealed how the Edwin Hawkins Singers’ ‘Oh Happy Day’ came together

During a 2014 interview with The Philadelphia Sunday Sun, gospel singer Dorothy Combs Morrison discussed “Oh Happy Day.” “When I recorded that song in 1969 with The Edwin Hawkins Singers, it changed my life [in] that I got a chance to sing to the world about God and how he can wash your sins away,” she said.

Morrison discussed her contributions to “Oh Happy Day,” which was an arrangement of a hymn by Philip Doddridge. “Edwin Hawkins asked me if I would like to sing in the choir so that’s how I got in,” she said. “He told me he had a song for me and the title was, ‘Oh Happy Day.’ And he said, ‘Now I need you to get some verses.'” Morrison said hearing the song on the radio was one of the best moments of her life.


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How George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet Lord’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“My Sweet Lord” became a massive hit. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, staying on the chart for 14 weeks in total. The track appeared on the album All Things Must Pass. The album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for seven weeks and remained on the chart for 41 weeks altogether. In the U.S., All Things Must Pass became George’s most popular album.

According to The Official Charts Company, “My Sweet Lord” was also a hit in the United Kingdom. In the 1970s, it was No. 1 for five of its 17 weeks on the chart. George died in 2001. Subsequently, “My Sweet Lord” reached No. 1 for one week and stayed on the chart for 14 weeks. Meanwhile, All Things Must Pass was No. 1 for eight weeks, lasting 32 weeks on the chart.

“My Sweet Lord” is a classic — and it wouldn’t exist without “Oh Happy Day.”