728b and the Dead Sea Scrolls

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We have jokingly referred to song 728b, “Our God He is Alive” as the “National Anthem of the Church of Christ.” Maybe since we are the kingdom of God we should refer to it as our Kingdom Anthem instead. Anyway, I always wondered how that song ended up with a “b” affixed to it. Then I realized that there may be biblical precedence for doing such a thing. The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Septuagint contain Psalm 151 that is for good reason not recognized as canonical. The Dead Sea Scrolls provided us with that psalm in two parts known by scholars as 151a and 151b. Now you know the rest of the story!

Now seriously, do any of you know how it got the “b” on the end?

8 Responses

  1. Yes, in older cofc hymnals there were 728 songs-don’t remember which one just now-and this song, when it came along, was generally pasted in the back of those books as 728B. Don’t know why they didn’t just make it 729.

    I don’t like the song primarily for it’s sectarian use as the National Anthem of CofC. We had a worship leader here who for a few times kept making that statement about this song until I asked him in love to cease and desist. But I grew up in some of the most sectarian times of the cofc movement and am glad we are moving beyond it in some places.

    “Everywhere God has a child I have a brother or sister.”


  2. We had some Mennonite volunteers from Pennsylvania this summer…a fascinating and beautiful group of teenagers. After class one Wednesday night they got together and sang for us … the voices of angels, I’m telling you … and they sang Our God, He Is Alive. Of course we sang along! It’s a great song for all.

  3. It’s only the greatest song in the hymnal. I mean, they are making a website dedicated to it. If that song can’t unite the congregation with one voice nothing will. It is, in fact, an anthem.

  4. In Alton Howard’s original hymnal, he worked and worked to get permission to print song after song after song. Sometimes, frankly, he cheated and rewrote lyrics when he did not have permissions and in others he found long-forgotten versions that were public domain to fill in for those where permission was not granted. One of his favorites was Our God, He is Alive, and early in the printing history of the hymnal, he received permission too late for the actual print. So, he and his family literally pasted 728B, the song after the last number in the hymnal, to the back cover. In subsequent printings, long after his Songs of the Church had proved profitable, he retained the numbering . . . just because.

  5. 728b Was not in the original printing of “Songs of the Church”. In it’s third printing, they cleaned up a few things and added some songs. Since people were now familiar with the numbers of their favorite songs, and because type setting was done manually (no software in the stone age) the decision was made to add a prefix instead of changing the page numbers of some older songs or changing the format. You will notice the “b” applied to a few other songs that were added.

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