~I’d Rather Have Jesus (1)
years ago Bev Shea was attending the Bible School in Ottawa (Ontario)
where I was teaching. He loved to sing. After more training in New York
City he was given an audition at one of the radio stations and was
offered a contract.
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.
would he do? His mother was praying.
Saturday night she placed a poem on the piano. In the morning he
composed a tune for it. One verse was:
“I’d rather have Jesus than silver and gold: I’d rather
have Jesus than worldwide fame; I’d rather be true to His holy
turned down the contract.
time later he was offered a position with a Chicago radio station where
he might use the Gospel songs he loved. While there he met Billy Graham.
of the story is well-known.
Rather Have Jesus
(1) 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 the king of a vast domain
Or be held in sin's dread sway;
I'd rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
(2) 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.
(3) He's fairer than liles of rarest bloom,
He's sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He's all that my hungering spirit needs,
I'd rather have Jesus and let Him lead.
~I’d Rather Have Jesus (2)
King George VI and the queen visited Washington, DC, a state dinner was
given in their honor. Chief Whitefeather, an Indian, began the program
by singing the British anthem. After the applause the chief sang, to the
surprise of those present, the hymn whose opening words are, I’d
rather have Jesus than silver or gold!
in the evening, the chief sat near the king and queen. Tactfully he
asked the queen, Do you believe on Jesus? The queen replied graciously,
He is the Possessor of my heart, and of my husband’s also! The king,
smiling, added, I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold!
~I’d Rather Have Jesus (3)
was in the thirties. Business curves were still heading downward and
there was rumor of a salary cut at the New York insurance office where
twenty-two-year-old Beverly Shea was employed as a clerk. Possessor of a
deep melodious voice, the young man was offered a radio contract and
immediately saw opportunities for fame and possible riches in his
regular appearance on a secular program.
had been pondering the matter for several days when he sat down to the
piano early one Sunday morning to rehearse a hymn he was to sing in
church that morning. As he played and sang his eyes fell on a piece of
paper, on which was written:
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold
I’d rather be His than have riches untold!
poem, by Mrs. Rhea Miller, had been placed where Beverly would see it by
his mother, a minister’s wife, who knew of the offer her son was
pondering. Above all, she wanted her son, a Christian, to become wholly
consecrated to his service.
his eyes raced over the words, the sentences I’d rather have Jesus
than men’s applause and I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame
struck his very heart. His fingers unconsciously left the tune he was
rehearsing and began to find this melody which is today known to
~I’d Rather Have Jesus (4)
Beverly Shea yielded his talents and his life to the service of Christ
at a very early age. Because he realized that in this life only what is
done for Christ is of any lasting value, his singing has been a blessing
around the world.
wrote ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’ in 1933, said Shea. As I sat one
evening playing the piano, my mother brought to me a piece of paper on
which was written a poem by Rhea Miller. She thought it to be a very
wonderful poem and wanted me to read it. She then asked me to try my
hand at writing a melody for it. I began to play as a melody came to me.
I then sang and played for the first time ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus.’
the rich voice of George Beverly Shea is but a memory, many happy
Christians will still be singing his song.