HYMN HISTORY: At the age of 23 George Beverly Shea (1909 – ) had a hard decision to make. He could accept a job offer in a secular singing position in New York City with a great salary and wide respect; or he could continue singing in churches and for Christian radio programs. While sitting at the family piano, he started to prepare a special hymn for the Sunday service. On the piano he found a poem by Mrs. Rhea F. Miller. He immediately began to compose the music for the poem and used the song that same morning in his father’s church service. He also used those words to direct his life and has shared his song, “I’d Rather Have Jesus” with audiences around the world.
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 land;
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: