Posted by: rcottrill | March 9, 2010

Singing Through the Alphabet

Did you ever try singing through the alphabet–the first stanza of a hymn starting with each letter? This makes a great family activity in the car. And I’ve frequently done it when traveling alone. The list below is just an example of what I mean. For many letters there are lots of possibilities. For a few (such as q, v, and z), there are only obscure examples. (Nothing I’ve seen for the letter x, and only a few little known songs even starting with “ex.”)

It might even be possible, if there are a good number of hymns starting with a particular letter, to try singing favourites all starting with that letter. (Though I’ve never done it, this might also work in church, with a time of requests. In that case, to make it easier, you could allow members of the congregation to look at the index of the hymnal.)

You can check out what’s available using the index of a hymnal, or see the Cyber Hymnal, with its over 7,900 possibilities! If you get stuck without access to these, you perhaps could allow stanzas other than the first, or titles of hymns, which are not always the same as the first line. Or, you could include the refrains of hymns, or choruses. For example, the hymn entitled Verily, Verily would do for the letter v, though the first line is “O what a Saviour that He died for me!” And the children’s chorus, Zacchaeus Was a Very Little Man could be accepted for z. Be creative. Make it a fun experience!

As well as being an enjoyable exercise, this has some practical value. It tests and refreshes the memory, as to some wonderful hymns. That is bound to be a blessing. If you try it, drop a line to my blog and let me know how you did.

All the Way My Saviour Leads Me
Be Still, My Soul
Come, We That Love the Lord
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind
Each Step I Take
Face to Face
God Moves in a Mysterious Way
Have Thine Own Way, Lord
I Love to Tell the Story
Just As I Am
King of My Life I Crown Thee Now (Lead Me to Calvary)
Like A River Glorious
More Love to Thee
Nothing Between
O God, Our Help in Ages Past
Pass Me Not
Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It
Sweet Hour of Prayer
Take the Name of Jesus with You
Under His Wings
V… (Verily, Verily, or Victory in Jesus)
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
Yield Not to Temptation
Z… (Zacchaeus Was a Very Little Man)


  1. I’ve never played this hymn game, but years ago on a long bus trip I did plan and conduct a “scavanger hunt in a hymnal.”
    We used Al Smith’s “Living Hymns,” and it was a lot of fun.
    Several items to be hunted and found:
    * a hymn in the key of Db;
    * the hymn written by the author of our National Anthem;
    * a hymn other than “Crown Him with Many Crowns” that uses that same tune;
    * the ZIP code of Greenville, SC;
    * a hymn that mentions the fire and cloudy pillars;

    and so on. It was a memorable trip.

    • Sounds like a great idea. Anything that helps folks to dig into the hymn book and learn more would seem to be helpful. (My one qualification would be that it not demean the hymns or show disrespect for God’s Word.) I can see how the questions in the “Scavenger Hunt” could be geared to the age level of participants, or to their knowledge of hymns–and of music. (A question about Db might throw many.)

      It’s not quite the same thing, but next Christmas if you’re looking for a quiz that covers both the carols and the relevant Scriptures, here’s one I wrote, and the answers: Christmas Bible Quiz, and Answers Christmas Bible Quiz. God bless.

  2. […] 1) Certainly, it should be the desire of the individual believer to learn as much as possible about the hymns of the church, and their authors. If you have a computer, you can always call up the Cyber Hymnal, and sing along as the melody is played for you there. Or check out my Article about Singing Through the Alphabet. […]

  3. […] SINGING THROUGH THE ALPHABET. Have you ever tried it–singing (from memory) the first stanza of hymns starting with A…B…C–and so on. I did it yesterday, as I was driving to a preaching appointment in a city some distance away. It can provide an uplifting session of praise, as well as being a helpful test of the memory. Why not check out my article on the subject, and give it a try. […]

  4. Great idea! 🙂

    • Thanks!

  5. Never heard of this game before. I like it!

    Thanks for sharing. Shall be using it 🙂



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