Sunday, April 21, 2013

Shea--He has Jesus Now

One of the giants of American Christian music, George Beverly Shea passed into heaven this past Thursday at the age of 104. Shea, a member of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Team, has not only shared the gospel message in song all across the world, but he has helped strengthen American churches.

Many Christians may not know it, but Shea introduced "How Great Thou Art" to America.  The song was written in 1885 but remained in obscurity until Shea, having bumped into a friend on Oxford Street in London who handed him a copy, started singing the song with his rich bass voice.  The song is now a staple of American Christianity. 

I grew up hearing Shea.  Mom's old stereo console cabinet had many records, some of which where those of Shea and Cliff Barrows.
Shea was given a poem by his mother in 1922.  He set the words to music and gave us the following song:

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands,
I’d rather be led by His nail pierced hand.

Than to be a king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin’s dread sway,
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame,
I’d rather be true to His holy name.

He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out of the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.

Well, Mr. Shea.  Thank you for your service to the King.  You have Jesus now in a way you've never known. 

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