A Day with Bev Shea

George Beverly Shea Billy Graham Crusade Cleveland Stadium Ohio 1994 No other person in history has sung to more people than George Beverly Shea. Known as "America’s Beloved Gospel Singer," his unmistakable rich baritone voice has proclaimed the Gospel message in song to over 200 million people around the globe! In crusade after crusade, his passionate solo would set the tone for Billy Graham’s salvation message. Billy Graham once said that he felt the song was more powerful than the sermon.

Last month, Bey Shea celebrated his 100th birthday! The Shea home in Montreat, North CarolinaKnowing how God has used him so powerfully over the last century, I counted it an incredible privilege to be able to spend some time with him and his wife yesterday at their beautiful home in the hills of North Carolina.

At 100 years old, I was surprised at Mr. Shea’s agility, quick wit, and ability to recall dates, names, and specific details from the past. He was overflowing with fun recollections from big crusades, memories of famous people, and touching stories of hymn histories. It was thrilling to hear him share firsthand how the Lord had orchestrated the writing of such favorites as The Wonder of It All and I’d Rather Have Jesus.

Bev Shea playing his little pump organ His life was overflowing with music! He showed us four organs in his home, including a big pipe organ. The pipes were down in the basement and filled the house with music as he played. He even played a little pump organ for us!

In the Shea living room was a 1934 Steinway Playing 'How Great Thou Art' on the Shea's 1934 Steinway Grand grand piano that Bev Shea’s father had purchased for something like $19. It still sounded great and I enjoyed playing How Great Thou Art, a favorite hymn of mine that first received widespread popularity after Bev Shea sang it at a London Crusade.

After spending a memorable day together, it was clear to me that even at 100 years old, Mr. Shea is still as fascinated with "the wonder of it all" as when he first penned these words back in 1955:

There’s the wonder of sunset at evening,
The wonder as sunrise I see;
But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul
Is the wonder that God loves me.

Bev Shea and I


  1. Daniel March 19, 2009 at 7:31 am #

    What a WONDERful opportunity, Robert. That sounds like a memory not to be forgotten!

  2. Alison March 19, 2009 at 9:55 am #

    What an amazing experience that would be! I thought you might like to know that you can still leave a birthday comment for Bev Shea at http://www.GeorgeBevShea.com. He also has a biography coming soon (like next month!) that is being published by http://www.Ambassador-International.com. You can still pre-order the book at 40% off but only until the end of the month. I think you might enjoy it! Have a great day!

  3. James, Dad and Michael March 19, 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    A once in a life-time opportunity; a treasure of an experience; a memory to never be forgotten! Your post reminds us of Proverbs 3:1-2: “My son, forget not my law; but let thine heart keep my commandments: for length of days, and long life, and peace, shall they add to thee.”

  4. Donald March 19, 2009 at 4:34 pm #

    If the song is more powerful than the sermon, how powerful it must be when they correspond in word and it spirit. Thank you for writing such a thorough post Robert. I know it must have taken some time.

  5. trish ritchie March 20, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    Praise the LORD! Robert. I’m thankful to God that you and George Beverly Shea had the blessing of meeting one another. I know that you were as much of an encouragement to this saint of God as he was to you. God’s ways are wonderful!

  6. Elizabeth March 23, 2009 at 7:17 am #

    wow! What an INCREDIBLE privilege!!

  7. Lauren Rose March 24, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    That is an amazing expeirence ya’ll had. I enjoyed hearing about it in staff meeting! What an awesome opportunity and things for describing it in such detail so that we could feel the expeirence too! How amazing!

  8. Crystal March 24, 2009 at 10:45 am #

    WOW what a once in a life time experience! Praise the Lord for the wonderful opportunity He provided for you. ‘Sounds’ like y’all must have had a rich time in the Lord together.

    Can you imagine purchasing a steinway for $19?

  9. Robert February 1, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    Thanks for the personal reminiscence about your visit with Bev Shea. To me, he sets the standard, as far as ministry in music is concerned. On this his 101st birthday, I’ve posted an article about him on my daily blog about hymn history, Wordwise Hymns. I invite you to take a look.

  10. Robert Staddon February 1, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    Hello Robert! I just enjoyed visiting your http://www.wordwisehymns.com website! I always enjoy hearing the stories behind the great hymns of the faith and your site tells them so beautifully. Thank you for sharing!

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