Seek Ye First

Scripture References

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Belgic Confession, Article 26 provides the foundation for all our praying: “We believe that we have no access to God except through the one and only Mediator and Intercessor ‘Jesus Christ the righteous,’ who therefore was made human, uniting together the divine and human natures, so that we human beings might have access to the divine Majesty. Otherwise we would have no access.” We offer our prayers, therefore, “only on the basis of the excellence and dignity of Jesus Christ, whose righteousness is ours by faith.” Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 46, Question and Answer 120 verifies this privilege when it says, “Through Christ God has become our Father, and…just as our parents do not refuse us the things of this life, even less will God our Father refuse to give us what we ask in faith.”

Tune Information

D Major


Musical Suggestion

This song is appropriate for several places in the liturgy and can be sung in a variety of ways:
  1. Congregation on melody, instrument on descant, beginning with stanza 2. (An oboe would carry over a large congregation; violin, flute, or recorder would also work well.)
  2. Congregation on melody, with as many members as wish singing on the descant, probably also waiting until stanza 2.
  3. The entire congregation singing as a round, with group 1 beginning with the melody and continuing with the descant; group 2 comes in on the melody when group 1 is ready for the descant. In this way, the melody and descant continually trade parts.
As with many popular songs, one danger lies in singing "Seek Ye First" too often. If you are familiar with this song, you may not wish to sing it every week during August. If you do, try challenging your congregation to sing all stanzas from memory by the end of the month.
(from Reformed Worship, Issue 15)
— Emily Brink

Hymn Story/Background

Karen Lafferty wrote this song one night after attending a Bible study on Matthew 6:33 in 1971 at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, California. Struggling with financial difficulties after recently starting a full-time music ministry, she returned home that night with new encouragement. Others appreciated its beauty and simplicity, and the song soon gained popularity, eventually providing the support that permitted her to continue and develop her ministry.
Other stanzas, also based on well-known quotations of Jesus, were written anonymously. Stanza 2 is based on Matthew 7:7, and stanza 3 on Matthew 4:4 (quoting Deuteronomy 8:3). The first two quotations are from the Sermon on the Mount, and the third is Jesus' response to his first temptation in the desert. The addition of anonymous stanzas is a phenomenon related to the oral tradition in which many Scripture songs have developed. The three stanzas together persistently and fervently direct our attention to the things of God in the context of living praise ("alleluia"), indicating that such a manner of life is necessary before God. Maranatha! Music published the composite and recorded it on their initial Praise album (1972).
Named after its composer, LAFFERTY is a "simple is beautiful" tune consisting of one repeated musical line accompanied by a descant that encourages even the smallest congregation to sing in two-part harmony. A popular Scripture chorus published in many informal collections, it was one of the first to be included in recent denominational hymnals. LAFFERTY can be sung in different ways; one elaborate (though easy to learn) performance that extends the song is to treat the descant like a refrain in a two part round; when the first group finishes the first stanza, it begins the alleluias as the second group begins stanza 1. Flute and guitar provide beautiful accompaniment; Karen herself plays guitar and oboe—try that for variety!
— Bert Polman

Author Information

Karen Lafferty (b. Alamogordo, New Mexico, 1948) moved to Amsterdam in 1981, when she became founder and director of Musicians for Missions, an international ministry of Youth with a Mission. She received a degree in music education at Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico. From 1971 to 1981 she was a member of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California, where she served as a worship leader and became part of a fellowship of musicians, Maranatha! Music (which later became a Christian music company). Lafferty has recorded several solo albums and a music video. Her musical style is reminiscent of the folk music of such singers and groups as Joni Mitchell, the Kingston Trio, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. 
— Bert Polman
Hymnary.org does not have a score for this hymn.