Forty 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.
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.
On 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 Name!”
Bev turned down the contract.
A short 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.
The rest of the story is well-known.
—R. Barclay Warren
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 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.
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 the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs,
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead.