Thursday, April 23, 2009

George Beverly Shea

I was channel surfing last evening when I ran across an interview with George Beverly Shea. Bill Gaither was conducting the interview and it apparently took place when George (Bev) was 98 years young.  He was born in Canada on February 1, 1909 and turned 100 on his birthday this year.  His voice was still strong and rich and he could still sing.  He was the soloist for the Billy Graham crusades and he always sang just before Dr. Graham brought the message.  George and Billy started working together in the early 40's.  It is estimated that he has sung before a combined audience of over 220,000,000 people in his long career.  As clips were played of his performances through the years, my heart melted and my eyes misted up at the sound of his rich baritone voice singing the words of those great old hymns.  I listened without a word as he sang "How Great Thou Art", "I'd Rather Have Jesus", "Amazing Grace", and a host of others.  I miss singing those hymns.  Our current song services are a sham when compared to the melody and poetry of some of the older hymns.  Bill Gaither said it very well when he commented that he didn't sing them because they were old, but because they were great and need to be sung.    I wrote a couple of poems with that very message.  

Closed Hymnals


Hymnals hang idle

on the back of the pew

replaced by words

on a screen.


Words without music.

Chanted, repeated.

Unknown melody slurred.


Hymnals hang idle,

their music not played.

Inspirational stories unheard.

Dennis Price

The following is an excerpt from a longer poem entitled "Worship;

Racks with unused hymnals,

silent reminders of the inspired

utterances of saintly poets.


Sometimes we sing one or two,

rarely stopping for a breath between them

so we can chant some over used chorus

several times while craning our necks

to see the words displayed high above

on a drop down screen.


No music to follow.  Just some bouncy tune

that we should know because we

hear it so often.

It makes me want to bunny hop down the aisle.

I squirm and hope that the song service ends soon.



Dennis Price