Heritage Baptist Church - San Leandro, CA.
  Heritage Baptist Church - San Leandro, CA.

HYMN HISTORY - George Beverly Shea

George Beverly "Bev" Shea (born February 1, 1909) is a Grammy Award-winning Canadian centenarian, bass-baritone singer of gospel music and the composer of several hymns and hymn tunes. Shea has often been described as "America's Beloved Gospel Singer" and is considered "the first international singing 'star' of the gospel world," as a consequence of his solos on the Billy Graham Crusades and his exposure on radio, records, and television. George Beverly Shea has witnessed to more than 220 million people (According to the Guinness Book of Records, Shea holds the world record for singing in person to the most people ever, in over 185 countries around the world, making him one of the most well-known gospel singers of all time. His decades-long partnership with Billy Graham took him to stages in every state and on every continent, but that doesn’t mean Bev Shea should be labeled as a performer or an entertainer. No, he was God’s instrument for bringing the hope of the Gospel around the world.

The music of George Beverly Shea is characterised by the warmth and utter sincerity that one might expect from a man who often refers to his singing career as a “ministry through records.” His deep, resonant voice is familiar the world over. Moreover, his enduring friendship with evangelist Billy Graham, with whom he has been associated for 60 years, has markedly enhanced the ministries of both men.

Throughout the course of a career that has encompassed numerous concert performances and more than 70 albums of sacred music, Shea has been a fixture at Billy Graham crusades throughout America and on every continent. “I’ve been listening to Bev Shea sing for more than 50 years,” Mr. Graham once explained, “and I would still rather hear him sing than anyone else I know.”

George Beverly Shea sang at his first Billy Graham Crusade in 1947 and joined Billy Graham’s weekly Hour of Decision radio broadcast in 1950. Over his long career, Shea has recorded more than seventy albums of religious music. He is best known for his rendition of "How Great Thou Art", the 1920s English translation by Rev. Stuart K. Hine of the Swedish song "O Store Gud", written in 1886 by Rev. Carl Boberg (1859-1940). During his television career, he was nominated for ten Grammy Awards, winning in 1965 for Best Inspirational Performance. In 1978, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association and for his lifelong contribution to gospel music. In 1996 the association of National Religious Broadcasters voted him into its "Religious Broadcasting Hall of Fame."

Following the death of his first wife, Erma, in 1976, Shea married Karlene Aceto in 1985. They live in North Carolina. Every hymn he sings is a testimony to the saving power of Jesus Christ and to Shea's faith in Him. He is a noteworthy composer, and the songs he has written incorporate the same message. He composed the music at age 23 to one of his best-known solos, "I'd Rather Have Jesus," to words by Mrs. Rhea H. Miller. The poem had been left on the family piano by Shea's mother, and after reading the words he sat at the piano and composed the tune. He also wrote "The Wonder of It All," "Sing Me A Song of Sharon's Rose," and "I Love Thy Presence, Lord." Shea is noted for the simplicity of his faith and testimony. To him, compromise is unthinkable. All his life and work is aimed at telling "of the Christ who died for me." A man of deep sympathies, he will listen endlessly to the troubles of others but dismiss his own with a word and a smile.

  • The Wonder of it All
  • I’d Rather Have Jesus
  • Sing Me A Song of Sharon’s
  • I Love Thy Presence, Lord

  Heritage Baptist Church - San Leandro, CA.


Heritage Baptist Church - San Leandro, CA.