Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Song Spotlight: I'd Rather Have Jesus

I grew up in Prescott, Arkansas, where my family was part of Central Baptist Church. Among the many happy memories I have of our times at Central are the times when Carl Dalrymple would sing "I'd Rather Have Jesus."  I can still see him standing on the platform and moving his head in worship as he sang this song of devotion to Christ.

I recently came across this song again. I suppose that many people my age probably don't even know it. Here are some of the lyrics:

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 worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name

This song started as a poem written by Rhea Miller in 1922. George Beverly Shea, a young Christian man with a golden voice, had been offered a radio contract that could possibly lead towards fame. As he pondered direction, he sat down at the piano. His mother had left a copy of Miller's poem on the piano for her son to find (aren't mothers great?). George saw it and was struck by the lyrics, which seemed to speak directly to his situation. "I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause..."  He began to make up a melody to go with the words and sang it right there at the piano. Because of God's leading through this experience, he declined the offer.

Later he met Billy Graham, and began singing with him at his evangelism crusades. This is where the  song, "I'd Rather Have Jesus" was made popular.

It's a very simple song, but one that speaks clearly of consecration to Christ and delighting in the Lord above the things of the world.  I invite you to listen to this song through the links below and freshly express your devotion to Jesus, the one who died for us and rose again!

There are MANY versions of this song available (even Willie Nelson has recorded it). Here are a few:
1. Crystal Lewis - (in my oppinion, she just tears it up)
2. Allison Kraus & The Cox Family - (a nice country version)
3. Jeff Deyo - (leans to the rock genre)
4. Finally, here is George Beverly Shea himself -

Which one is your favorite?
Is there a version that I missed that is good?

(Information about the story behind "I'd Rather Have Jesus" taken from and

1 comment:

KenMan said...

I like the Allison Krauss version. That's a great tune...great lyrics.