The Hymn of the Pied Piper

By Jim Allen

Silver and Gold

I'd Rather Have Jesus is a song written by Rhea F. Miller with the tune written by George Beverly Shea. This poem, written in 1922, 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. The words "I'd rather have Jesus," moved George so much and spoke 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 a few years later chose to become associated with evangelist Billy Graham and sang this hymn around the world." ( — "I'd Rather Have Jesus")

The hymn begins with "I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold" and progresses through lyrics of unfolding truths, lifting the soul in worship and adoration of the Lord. The song's emotional tug on the soul is strong and its message endearing. A person who knows the Savior and listens to the hymn will bow before the Lord in humble admiration, reaffirming in his heart that Jesus is Lord and the true treasure to be greatly desired above all else (2 Corinthians 4:7). The hymn renews the believer's faith to biblical truths planted deep within the soul, persuading the faithful to once again focus their gaze upon their first love (Exodus 34:14).

Another Hymn in the Church

Today the church is singing another hymn with soothing lyrics of trickery, lifting the "soul of self" to center stage for blessings and favors from above. The hymn of greed has been around for a while, disguised of course in many ways. Many professing believers are fully devoted and firmly entrenched in the heresy of financial blessing, seemingly unaware of its false claims. They stand and sing in resolute harmony that "silver and gold" is proof of God's favor and blessing in their lives. May I assure you, it is not.

The player of the new hymn is mimicking the antics of the Pied Piper, a fictional character from the Middle Ages. The imaginary Pied Piper was thought to be a "symbol of death" who played a tune on a flute, leading the village children away never to return. Today's Pied Piper is no fictional character because he is actually leading many people away never to return. Today's Pied Piper is a spirit of unrivaled cunning. He resides in the hearts of those who seek abundance from this life. The hymn from this Pied Piper is persuasive, convincing believers that Jesus desires for us to have silver and gold in this life. Do not be fooled by these "pied pipers" of greed. They play mesmerizing tunes of silver and gold laced with trace amounts of venomous deception.

The Value of Having Jesus

Today, the "I'd rather have Jesus..." hymn has nearly vanished from the church, seldom sung if ever. Although God gifted Rhea Miller with the words in the poem and George Beverly Shea with the melodious tune, it was the loving act of George's mother that made the time honored hymn possible. Bev Shea is the unsung hero in this touching true story about her son because her act, although humble and heartfelt, was profound. She knew the value of having Jesus above silver and gold.

So then, God's infallible Word gives us a clear picture of the truth in this treasured hymn. Jesus said of this matter, "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also" (Matthew 6:21).

Image Credit: Robert Browning; "Illustration from The Pied Piper of Hamelin"; Public Domain

comments powered by Disqus
Published 4-11-12