A Tale of Two Singers

Prince Rogers Nelson, age 57, and George Beverly Shea, age 104, passed on to their rewards during the same week.  Whether or not you believe these two men went straight to heaven or are sleeping ’till Jesus comes is between you, the Holy Spirit and the Word.  Though born five decades apart, they have much in common.  Both were raised in Christian homes to Christian parents.  Travel back with me to a Sunday morning, when five-year-old George would dress in his best church clothes and make his way to the local Baptist Sunday School while rive decades later on a Saturday morning the diminutive Prince would tie his freshly polished shoes to attend Sabbath School at the neighborhood Seventh-day Adventist church.  Both boys would have raised their voices in the old familiar children’s favorite, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Their Bible teachers never could have imagined how both would grow up to write music and would leave an immeasurable legacy that would affect millions of people for generations to come.

Prince’s music influenced at least 3 decades of fans.  It’s reported he had a cache of numbers in his basement as yet unrecorded and released.  Due to his untimely death his signature song,”Purple Rain” has already sky-rocketed to the top of the music charts once again.  Friends who knew him well say he was a very spiritual man. He was reported to have said, “Too be successful you need to love God first and yourself second.”  While I know very little about the artist beyond TV newscasters’ reports, he definitely impacted his generation of fans.

As I was a young child I remember George Beverly Shea’s rich baritone voice filling auditoriums, stadiums and my living room via TV alike with the majestic lyrics of “How Great Thou Art.” Only God can count the number of lives he touched as he sang the familiar altar call, “Just as I Am.”  Did he affect as  many as Prince?  I don’t know. However I do know Mr. Shea fed the hearts and lives of hungry individuals for more than 8 decades. As for me, the words to the hymn, “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” changed my life forever.  Everything I do, every choice I make runs through the song’s filter  of the desire for silver, gold or fame.  Becoming a Christian teacher and later a Christian writer are decisions determined by that song.  Thus today I  celebrate Mr. Shea’s long and brilliant career.

This blog isn’t to compare the value or Mr. Shea’s legacy against Prince’s.  Both men impacted their world in different ways and should be remembered by those who loved them  Philippians 1:6 KJV promises that “He who began a good work in (the young George or boy Prince) will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus.”   For these two musical icons, that day has come and the results must be entrusted in God’s hands.  Any opinion you or I might have about the two men means nothing when staring at eternity.

For decades, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, John Lennon, Whitney Huston, Michael Jackson and the list goes on, fans have mourned the loss of their music heroes. For me, few songs and even fewer musicians have given me answers on how to better live my life.  Psalm 49:4 MSG says, “I solve life’s riddle with the help fo the harp.” George Beverly Shea’s signature song was my harp, my guiding force.  How about you?

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One Response to A Tale of Two Singers

  1. O'Ceallaigh says:

    Well done. I had forgotten that Prince began as a devout kid. There is evidence that there was still a soft spot in his heart for Christ.

    I’m thankful that we serve an omniscient God who is also a fair and just judge.

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