Alphabet of the Bible, The
DESCRIPTION: Alphabet song with mostly New Testament references. At least two different choruses.
EARLIEST DATE: 1941 (Recording, Royal Harmony Singers)
KEYWORDS: Bible nonballad religious Jesus wordplay
FOUND IN: US(SE)
Royal Harmony Singers(The Florida Boys), "The Alphabet of the Bible" (Decca 8628, 1941)
Ella Mae Wilson, Lillie B. Williams, and Richard Williams, "He's a Battle Axe" (on USFlorida01)
NOTES [670 words]: From Blaine Waide, "Recent Traditions and New Recordings: African American Sacred Music in Florida," USFlorida01 liner notes:
"A for almighty, that is true"
"B, He was a baby like me or you"
"C for Christ, the son of God"
"D, He was a doctor and a man of war"
"E, He's an eagle with the watchful eyes"
"F is for the fire that Elijah tried" (Royal Harmony Singers have "F, He was the fire that Elijah tried"; see 1 Kings 18:36-38 and 2 Kings 1:10-11, where Elijah asks God to prove to others that he, Elijah, is a man of God by consuming some thing or some ones with fire.) [The first refers to the contest on Mount Carmel, 1 Kings 18:20-40, where Elijah could summon fire and the priests of Baal could not; the second refers to 2 Kings 1:2-16, where Ahaziah King of Israel was trying to summon Elijah, and sent platoons to do so, and Elijah, who didn't want to come, called fire from heaven to burn them up. - RBW]
"G is for God, everybody knows"
"H is for the healing of the dying soul"
"I, He's intelligent, very wise"
"J, He's Jehovah, and He cannot lie" ["Jehovah" is the King James mis-vocalization of the Hebrew consonants YHWH in Exodus 16:9; for background, see the notes to "Guide Me, Oh Thou Great Jehovah." - RBW]
"K is for king, I'm compelled" (Royal Harmony Singers have "K is for king which I'm compelled to say")
"L, He's a lawyer, He will plead your case" [Contrast to this Luke 11:45, "And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers." Jesus pretty definitely was not a lawyer, although he certainly was called a Rabbi. - RBW]
"M, He's the master of the world"
"N, He's a noble, and He can be heard"
"O, He's the author of the first and last." (Royal Harmony Singers have "O, He's omega, the first and last") [King James Rev. 22:23, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last"; Rev. 1:8, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty." See also Rev. 21:6, referring to Alpha and Omega; Rev. 1:17, Isa. 44:6, 48:12, about being the first and the last. - RBW]
"P, He's a prophet, just hold Him fast"
"Q, He's quick, He is slow"
"R, He rides where no man know"
"S, He's the Savior, the son of man"
"T, He can talk and you can understand"
"U, He is useful, take His time" (Royal Harmony Singers have "U, he is useful, He takes his time")
"V, He's a strong and a running vine"
"W for water, He knows all streams"
"X, He can save you in your extreme"
"Y is for you, He is for me"
"Z is for the son of Zebedee" (Royal Harmony Singers have "Z, He was the son of Zebedee," a strange error: apostles James and John are the sons of Zebedee (Matthew 4.21, Mark 1.19, Luke 5.10) [Not necessarily an error; James son of Zebedee was one of the first apostles to be killed, being executed by Herod Agrippa I I Acts 12:2, but John -- who is particularly associated with Peter -- is nowhere described as dying; tradition makes him the Beloved Disciple who was responsible for the Gospel of John, and also considers him the author of the Letters of John and even, in some accounts, the Apocalypse. (Although any half-decent student of Greek can see that the Gospel and Apocalypse of John are by two different authors.) Tradition has him living to extreme age and dying in peace after the persecution of Domitian; it was not until long after James's death that John is considered to have written his books. Thus the reference could be to John son of Zebedee in his role as author, in which James took no part. - RBW]
The USFlorida01 chorus is "He's a battle axe in the time of battle (3x), Shelter in a mighty storm.". The Royal Harmony Singers's chorus is "Who's that writing? John the Revelator (3x), Writing in the book of the seven seals." [The seven seals being referred to in Rev. 5:1 and after.] Both versions have the same tune as Blind Willie Johnson's "John the Revelator" (AAFM2). - BS
Last updated in version 4.2
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.