Friday, June 22, 2012

I'd Rather Have...

Howdy, Readers -

Anyone that knows me, knows that I love good stories. If my papaw was still alive, I'd just love to be able to sit for hours and listen to him spin tales. He was a master at telling you a story, taking  break, and then finishing the story with a twist. He reminded me of Paul Harvey in his ability to sit around a table and talk. Because of him, and folks like him in my family... I like stories. More to the point - I like to collect them. I like weird ones, ones with unexpected ends, happy ones, sad ones. I absolutely LOVE true ones, historical ones, and family history stories. I like the tall tales, too. He could spin some tales from hunting and fishing, or about his parents, or days overseas in the military. But I loved them all... And because of those stories, I also began listeing and collecting stories outside of my family and those that struck a chord with me. Some of them are heartwarming and I like to tell those or share those stories. One such story is about a gospel songwriter named George Beverly Shea.

George Beverly Shea was a quite famous and prolific songwriter that worked for many years on the Billy Graham crusades. He was a singer, and nearly half of all of the hymnals in America have his work woven throughout them. There are countless songs he's written, recorded and that have been covered by recording artists the world over.
"Bev Shea was attening the Bible School in Ottawa (Ontario) where I was teaching. He loved to sing. After more training in New York City, he was given and 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 woud he do?

Well, his mother was praying and on a Saturday night, she placed a poem on the piano. In the morning, he composed a tune for the poem. One verse was: "I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold: I'd rather have Jesus than worldwide fame; I'd rather be true to His holy name!"

Bev turned down the contract.

A short time later, he was offered a position with a Chicago radio station where he might sing the Gospel songs he loved. While there, he met Billy Graham. The rest of the story is well known." -- R. Barclay Warren
Now, George Beverly Shea not only took that little poem, he wrote a song from it and it is one of my favorite gospel songs of all time. It is a staple on the Southern Gospel Quarter circuit, and it's been done and arranged many ways by choirs, quarters, soloists...

I'd 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

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