I Need Thee Every Hour (1872) / I’d Rather Have Jesus (1922)

Written by on August 28, 2022

Before Annie Sherwood Hawks’ death in 1918, she gave the full background story to “I Need Thee Every Hour (inspired by the Bible passage John 15: 4-5):

Seating myself by the open windows, I caught up my pencil and committed the words to paper almost as they are today. A few months later Dr. Robert Lowry composed the tune and also added the refrain.
For myself, the hymn, in its writing, was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experiences, for it was wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, instead of under the stress of great personal sorrow, with which it has often been associated. At first, I did not understand why the hymn so greatly touched the throbbing heart of humanity. Years later, however; under the shadow of a great loss, I came to understand something of the comforting power of the words I had been permitted to give out to others in my hours of sweet serenity and peace.

“I’d Rather Have Jesus” was written in 1922 by Rhea F. Millerthe tune written by George Beverly Shea. This poem was left on a piano in the Shea home by Bev Shea, who wanted her son to find it and change the course of his life.
After he read it, the words spoke profoundly to him about his own aims and ambitions in life. He sat down at the piano and began singing them with a tune that seemed to fit the words. Shea’s mom heard him singing it and asked him to sing it at church the next day.
George’s life direction did change. He was offered a popular music career with NBC but declined and later became a partner in the Billy Graham ministry for over fifty years, singing this hymn around the world.

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