Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

Paraphraser: Karen Lafferty

(no biographical information available about Karen Lafferty.) Go to person page >


Scripture References: st. 1 = Matt. 6:33 st. 2 = Matt. 7:7 st. 3 = Matt. 4:4 Karen Lafferty (b. Alamogordo, NM, 1948) 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 Deut. 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). A musical missionary, Lafferty has been based in Amsterdam since 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. She and Musicians for Missions travel worldwide with their music ministry. Liturgical Use: Before the reading of Scripture; appropriate in many kinds of services and at various points in the liturgy. --Psalter Hymnal Handbook



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 t…

Go to tune page >



Instances (1 - 47 of 47)Text InfoTune InfoTextScoreFlexScoreAudioPage Scan
Ancient and Modern: hymns and songs for refreshing worship #775
Anglican Hymns Old and New (Rev. and Enl.) #652
Baptist Hymnal 1991 #478
Baptist Hymnal 2008 #524
Celebrating Grace Hymnal #436
Chalice Hymnal #354
Church Family Worship #168
Church Hymnal, Fifth Edition #596
Church Hymnary (4th ed.) #641
Common Praise (1998) #458
Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New #590
Complete Mission Praise #590
Gather (3rd ed.) #658
Gather Comprehensive #615
Gather Comprehensive, Second Edition #600
Glory to God: the Presbyterian Hymnal #175Text InfoAudio
Hymnal 1982: according to the use of the Episcopal Church #711
Hymnal: A Worship Book #324
Hymns for a Pilgrim People: a congregational hymnal #370
Hymns of Faith #447
Hymns of Promise: a large print songbook #65
Hymns Old and New: New Anglican #442
Lift Up Your Hearts: psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs #899Audio
Lutheran Service Book #712
Moravian Book of Worship #605
Oramos Cantando = We Pray In Song #576
Praise! Our Songs and Hymns #438
Presbyterian Hymnal: hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs #333
Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #209Text InfoTune InfoAudio
Rejoice Hymns #411
Sing and Rejoice!: new hymns for congregations #98
Sing Joyfully #615
Singing the Faith #254
Songs for Life #155
The Celebration Hymnal: songs and hymns for worship #713
The Hymnal for Worship and Celebration #42
The United Methodist Hymnal #405Audio
The Worshiping Church #447
This Far By Faith: an African American resource for worship #149
Together in Song: Australian hymn book II #745
Voices United: The Hymn and Worship Book of The United Church of Canada #356
With One Voice #783
Worship (3rd ed.) #580
Worship (4th ed.) #663
Worship and Rejoice #349
Worship in Song: A Friends Hymnal #100
찬송과 예배 = Chansong gwa yebae = Come, Let Us Worship: the Korean-English Presbyterian hymnal and service book #136
Include 2 pre-1979 instances
Suggestions or corrections? Contact us