We see Jesus,
who was made a little lower than the angels
for the suffering of death,
crowned with glory and honour.
Mr. Barclay Warren was teaching at the Bible School in Ottawa (Ontario). In 1922 Bev Shea was attending that school. Mr. Warren says that Bev Shea loved to sing. Bev eventually went on to New York City to received further training. While there he had an audition at one of the radio stations and was offered a contract.
He asked that he might sing Gospel songs. He was told that he might use one occasionally, but he would have to use the songs on the Hit Parade.
What would he do? His mother was praying.
Bev Shea tells us what happened next. “As I sat one evening playing the piano, my mother brought to me a piece of paper on which was written a poem. She thought it to be a very wonderful poem and wanted me to read it. ‘Will you try your hand at writing a melody for it?’ she asked. I began to play as a melody came to me. The melody seemed to fit the lyric, and so I began to sing and play it for the first time”
The words of this song touched his heart so much that he turned down the contract that was offered him. A short time later he was offered a position with a Chicago radio station where he would sing the Gospel songs that he so loved. While there he met Billy Graham.
Bev continues, “Over the years, I’ve not sung any song more than this one,’ but I never tire of these heartfelt words.” As a young man of 23, Bev allowed the message of this text to guide him wisely to a wonderfully productive and worthwhile life of service to Christ as he shared his musical “theme song” with audiences around the world.
“Bev” as he was called, was born in Winchester, Ontario, Canada, to devoted Christian parents. He had the advantage of good musical training early in life. His rich bass voice, coupled with his sincere Christian attitude, carried him to the zenith of man’s acclaim for gospel soloists. He was offered his share of lucrative musical contracts, but he thoughtfully turned them down to become a singing servant for the Saviour. Mr. Shea is perhaps most remembered as the song director and soloist for the Billy Graham crusades that crisscrossed the United States and world.
The words of this hymn changed the life of the Swedish prince and the words of this hymn changed the life of Bev Shea. One wonders how many more lives it may touch before the Lord comes again?
When the beautiful voice of George Beverly Shea is but a memory, many happy Christians will still be singing this beautiful song - “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”
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.
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May the Lord bless and encourage you to go on in the pathway of faith for His glory.
Yours in the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ,