An American Treasure Passes On

Thursday, May 16, 2013

There's a wonder of sunset at evening,

The wonder as sunrise I see;

But the wonder of wonders that thrills my soul

Is the wonder that God loves me.

O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!

Just to think that God loves me.

O, the wonder of it all! The wonder of it all!

Just to think that God loves me.

George Beverly Shea certainly was known more for singing great gospel music than for writing it. But he did pen the words and music to that classic song.

In an interview with Bill Gaither, Shea said he considered the lyrics to be rather simple in his "Wonder of It All," but it still powerfully expresses the message that this icon of gospel music shared for more than 60 years working with his lifelong friends Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows.

Known as "America's Beloved Gospel Singer," George Beverly Shea died recently in North Carolina at the age of 104.

Rector native and long-time Gaither music producer Bill Carter attended the funeral ceremony.

In addition to his work with Bill Gaither, Carter has produced many other gospel music CDs and DVDs, including features on both Graham and Shea.

He sent us several of them, including the interview Gaither conducted with Shea that also features many of the memorable songs Shea sang at Billy Graham crusades around the world. It is an amazing DVD in that it shows the remarkably clear mind and voice possessed by Shea at the age of 98.

Born in Ontario, Canada, in 1909, he was the son of a Wesleyan minister. George Beverly Shea already was a well-known gospel singer when Billy Graham approached him in 1947 in Chicago with an invitation to join him for his planned crusade ministry. The rest is history.

Billy Graham repeatedly said there is no singer he would rather listen to than George Beverly Shea and it is clear the powerful voice and the perfect diction effectively led into the message shared each time by the world's foremost evangelist.

It has been said that George Beverly Shea sang in-person to more people than anyone in history, some 220 million in his lifetime.

The sincerity and goodness of the man came through when he sang and in his interaction with others. Bill Carter said he has never met a finer example of what it means to be a true Christian. What a life and what a legacy he left.