GEORGE BEVERLY SHEA
Where did George Beverly Shea get his distinctive way of singing. First, he listened to Homer Rodeheaver singing. George says this was his early inspiration. Homer Rodeheaver would sing every week, long ago, on the radio when the radio was America's only source of entertainment. Also, in the days of Homer, America still wanted to hear Amazing Grace, Precious Memories, and Blessed Assurance. The dust bowl and the Great Depression left folks simple in their joys and pleasures. They did not need the filth of Hollywood and the gore of Doom.
George Beverly Shea caught that simplicity and brought it along with him into the 50s, 60s, and into the 90s. Well, he is still singing to us-- those of us who visit the Goodwill and yard sales. I grab every record by George that I can get my hands on. As I type here, I am listening to, "I will Meet You in the Morning." I can believe that George and I will meet "over there."
Reality is rough, right? The sorrow to me is the way some very sweet folks have been used over the years by the likes of Billy Graham. Graham has compromised a virtual hall of fame of mighty saints. Think-- Ethyl Waters, Corrie Ten Boom, George Beverly Shea, the Palermo brothers, and did you forget Red Harper? Perhaps one scam Billy Graham needs to answer for most is Johnny Cash. What a sorry excuse for a Christian-- All dressed in black and fresh from the casinos in Las Vegas.
Ethyl Waters would hear of sick and suffering folks shut in at home and she would go sing to them. Can you see any of our "contemporary" Christian singers doing that today?
I saw Red Harper at Wynona Lake conference ground in the late 50s. He was the sweetest guy, and humble. He sat around between meetings and sang under the trees for us kids.
Corrie Ten Boom is just the kind of sweet product the Dutch Reformation tried to produce and rarely did. Her heritage included a love for God's Jewish people, also rare in Reformation men, and she learned about forgiving her enemies in a way few of us will ever reach.
These folks all seemed to have one weakness. They believed someone in front of them too easily. They wanted to believe that all saints were doing God's work with truth and uncompromised zeal. Then again, haven't we all been taken in at one time or another. We want to practice I Corinthians 13:7, Charity "believeth all things..." I was taken in horribly by a member of Opus Dei infiltrated a church I pastored in Michigan. What a let down.
Let's not be too hard on George Beverly Shea and these other godly musical folks. When I get one of his albums with Billy Graham's mug on the back, I just rub out Graham with a felt marker and play the record.
Now, if someone would like to bless me mightily, in this context that is, I would love to get a tape of Home Rodeheaver singing his songs. If you have one, could I have a copy. One of my privileges as editor of the journal is, I get to beg sometimes :-)