I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew

Full Text

1 I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
no, I was found of thee.

2 Thou didst reach forth thy hand and mine enfold;
I walked and sank not on the storm vexed sea;
'twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
as thou, dear Lord, on me.

3 I find, I walk, I love; but, oh, the whole
of love is but my answer, Lord, to thee!
For thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
always, always thou lovedst me.

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

Austin Lovelace says of this text: "'He first loved us.' This simple yet profound thought is the basis for the hymn. God loved us long before we knew it. We seek God, but already God is holding out a hand waiting for us to take hold of it and be rescued from the seas of life" (Lovelace, Hymn Notes).


Stanza 2 alludes to the scene in which Christ saves Peter from drowning (see Matt. 14:22-33).


Bert Polman, Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

The Catechism says that those who know Christ’s forgiveness are “to thank God for such deliverance” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1, Question and Answer 2). As a result, “With our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, so that he may be praised through us, and that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ” (Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 32, Question and Answer 86).


I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Thanksgiving to Jesus Christ for his Grace
Lord Jesus Christ, seeker of the lost, you never rest till you find us. You are always beforehand with our souls. You lay hold on us, not to trap but to preserve us. Thank you. Lord Jesus Christ, seeker of the lost, thank you. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew

Tune Information

F Major



I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew

Hymn Story/Background

In 1899 Finnish composer Jean Sibelius wrote a musical score for six historical tableaux in a pageant that celebrated and supported the Finnish press against Russian oppression. In 1900 Sibelius revised the music from the final tableau into FINLANDIA, a tone poem for orchestra. The chorale-like theme that emerges out of the turbulent beginning of this tone poem became the hymn tune.
FINLANDIA was first used as a hymn tune in the Scottish Church Hymnary (1927) and the Presbyterian Hymnal (1933). The melody features several repeated and varied melody lines. It is clearly an instrumental tune, but loved by congregations. Because of the long lines, accompanists must work to keep the tempo moving. The tune is a glorious setting for harmony singing by choirs. This tune is also often set to the hymn text of Katharina Von Schlegel, "Stille, mein Wille, dein Jesus hilft siegen" ("Be Still, My Soul, The Lord Is On Thy Side")
— Bert Polman

Composer Information

Jean Sibelius (b. Hameenlina, Tavastehus, Finland, 1865; Jarvenpaa, near Helsingfors, Finland, 1957)  began music studies on the piano, then violin, and at one time thought of becoming a concert violinist. But he began composing at the age of ten, and his later career in music was primarily in composition. Finland's most famous composer, Sibelius used native mythology and geography in his composition, which became a rallying point for Finland's nationalism and patriotism. In 1897 the government awarded him a pension for life for his contribution to his country. From 1900 until the outbreak of World War I he traveled extensively in Europe, often as conductor of his own works. In 1914 he visited the United States, where he was a popular conductor, and where he received an honorary degree from Yale University and taught briefly at the New England Conservatory in Boston. He did not compose during the last twenty-six years of his life. Sibelius is known especially for his symphonic music, but he also composed many songs and theater music, as well as music for piano and chamber ensembles. His only compositions for devotional use are Five Christmas Songs (1895­-1913) and "You Are Mighty, a Lord" (1927) for mixed choir.
— Bert Polman

Song Notes

Organist and composer Austin Lovelace wrote these words about this the hymn “I Sought the Lord”: he first loved us. This simple yet profound thought is the basis for the hymn. God loved us long before we knew it. We seek God, but already God is holding out a hand waiting for us to take hold of it and be rescued from the seas of life.” How often do we feel like we are thrusting out a hand in every which direction, trying to find something secure to hold on to amidst the stresses and trials that life throws at us? How often do we forget that there is already a hand being extended to us, waiting for us to grab hold? As we sing this hymn, may the words sink deep into your heart: “Always thou lovedst me.”
— Laura de Jong
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