498. I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew

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, was found of thee.
It was not I that found, O Savior true;
No, I was found, 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, took hold on me.
'Twas not so much that I on thee took hold,
as thou, dear Lord, took hold 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.
For thou wert long beforehand with my soul;
always, always thou lovedst me.

Text Information
First Line: I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew
Title: I Sought the Lord, and Afterward I Knew
Author: Anonymous (1878)
Meter: 10 10 10 8 10 8
Language: English
Publication Date: 1987
Scripture: ; ; ; ;
Topic: Deliverance; Election; Love: God's Love to Us (1 more...)
Tune Information
Composer: Jean Sibelius (1899)
Meter: 10 10 10 8 10 8
Key: E♭ Major
Copyright: © Breitkopf & Hartel

Text Information:

Scripture References:
st. 2 = Matt 14:22-23
st. 3 = 1 John 4:10,19, Jer. 31:3

Said by some scholars to have been written in 1878, this anonymous text was published in Holy Songs, Carols, and Sacred Ballads compiled by the Roberts brothers in Boston (1880). 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).

Liturgical Use:
See PHH 496 and PHH 497.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

Tune Information:

In 1899 Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (b. Hameenlina, Tavastehus, Finland, 1865; Jarvenpaa, near Helsingfors, Finland, 1957) 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 with diligent leadership by organists, congregations can sing the various cadential tones to their proper length. 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")

Sibelius 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.

--Psalter Hymnal Handbook

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