I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

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I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew

Author: Jean Ingelow (1878)
Songs of Response
Published in 87 hymnals

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Representative 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 O, the whole
of love is but my answer, Lord, to Thee!
For Thou wert long beforehand with my soul,
always Thou lovedst me.

Source: Psalms and Hymns to the Living God #322

Author: Jean Ingelow

Ingelow, Jean, daughter of W. Ingelow, Boston, Lincolnshire, was born in 1820. Her writings are well and favourably known. Her poetical pieces have been published as Poems, 1863, and A Story of Doom and other Poems, 1867. From her Poems, 1863, the cento "And didst Thou love the race that loved not Thee" (Love of Christ in the Congregational Church Hymnal 1887, is taken. --John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)… Go to person page >


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


Holy Songs, Carols, and Sacred Ballads published by Roberts Brothers in Boston is virtually similar to One Hundred Holy Songs, Carols and Sacred Ballads published by Longmans, Green & Co. in London in 1878. The British Library Catalogue, The Dictionary of British Women Writers (ed. Jane Todd, 1989) and Jean Ingelow, victorian Poetess (by Maureen Peters, 1972) all attribute the poem to Jean Ingelow.

From "I sought the author: a hymnological whodunnit" by Bernard Massey in Bulletin (Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland), Vol 17, Issue 1, No. 234, 2003, pp. 18-19


I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew. [He first loved us.] An anonymous and undated hymn in The Pilgrim Hymnal 1904.

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, New Supplement (1907)



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Instances (1 - 18 of 18)

Common Praise (1998) #547

Community of Christ Sings #175

Hymnal #506

Hymns of the Saints #213

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Hymns to the Living God #221


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Psalms and Hymns to the Living God #322

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Psalter Hymnal (Gray) #498

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Rejoice in the Lord #162

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The Book of Praise #568


The Cyber Hymnal #3066


The Hymnal 1982 #689


The United Methodist Hymnal #341

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The Worshiping Church #440

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Trinity Hymnal (Rev. ed.) #466

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Trinity Psalter Hymnal #427


Voices Together #161


Worship (3rd ed.) #593

Include 69 pre-1979 instances
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