George Beverly Shea (1909-2013)

From Bev Shea’s NYT obituary:

Though Mr. Shea was long a vital part of Mr. Graham’s work — Mr. Graham routinely insisted that without him he would have had no ministry — he retained a wry modesty about his role.

“The people didn’t come to hear me,” Mr. Shea told The Charlotte Observer in 2009. “They came to hear Billy. To get to hear him, they first had to listen to me.”

It was not always so. When they joined forces in the 1940s, Mr. Shea was already a nationally known voice in Christian music, Mr. Graham a fledgling minister. Their early revival meetings were often advertised this way:

BEV SHEA SINGS

Billy Graham will preach.

 

I heard George Beverly Shea sing at a 2001 Billy Graham Crusade in Louisville, Kentucky. Now, I realize that Shea would have been more than ninety years of age at the time. A remarkable and remarkably long career.

I highly recommend the material assembled by the Billy Graham Center Archives on a memorial page.

I cannot imagine more appropriate words for his passing than the final stanza from the hymn he made synonymous with his voice and with Graham’s crusades:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home – what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!


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