Over on my other blog, you can read about a book that I scanned and put online for ukulele players. The book is 99 years old. In some ways it is priceless. Back in 1916, though, it was only $1. The valuable part of the book is that it contains solo ukulele pieces that will make you a better ukulele player — for, of course, your gospel ukulele playing.
“Seek Ye First” sounds wonderful on the Ukulele and Native American Flute
You can use three chords C, F, G7 to strum this hymn.
C F C F C G7
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, And His righteousness
C F C F C G7 C
And all these things shall be added unto you, A-le-lu-oo-jah
C G7 F C Al le lu jah
F C G7 Al le lu u jah
C G7 F C Al le lu jah
F C C G7 C Al le Ale lu jah
Powerful Simplicity: The History of “Seek Ye First”
How God leads people to write hymns can be a dose of encouragement and inspiration.
“Seek Ye First” was written by Karen Lafferty in 1972 when she was 24 years of age. According to the Psalter Hymnal, Lafferty wrote the hymns after she had attended a Bible study one night.
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.
Scriptural basis for the hymn “Seek Ye First” : Mathew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)
As a teen, I’d thought that “Seek Ye First” was my youth group just singing the verse. I knew that one of the guitarists, who strummed while we sang songs in our group on Sunday nights, was just learning the guitar. She told me she spent hours practicing the chords for the song.
Not until I heard a recording of the Maranatha singers performing “Seek Ye First” did I realize our group was singing a hymn that was fast becoming a very popular song.
I have enjoyed singing and playing “Seek Ye First” — guitar, ukulele, recorder, clarinet, Appalachian dulcimer, Native American flute. And I decided the ukulele gospel song this week would be “Seek Ye First.” As I looked for the copyright on the song, it was then I discovered Karen Lafferty and her interesting story.
Ukulele and Native American flute duet for “Higher Ground”: Finger-picking vs. Strumming
Practicing the three chords F, Bb, C7 becomes a joy with this song. It doesn’t seem like practicing at all.
This is a great song for either strumming or finger-picking. Finger-picking takes a bit more practice but I prefer it with the hymns. However, if you are performing this song and get nervous with crowds, finger-picking is harder to keep steady.
You can hear the difference it makes to finger-pick your ukulele vs. strumming in this sample. I am using a low g string on a soprano ukulele, but the hymn sounds good on high G or low g. Download a pdf of Higher-Ground that contains ukulele chords and Native American flute fingerings.
Chordie: A good resource for Ukulele chords
If you want to change the 3 chords that you use, then you can go to Chordie. Look on the right side of the page and you can change the key of the song by raising or lowering by your desired number of semitones. You can select which ukulele tuning you will use – C, D, or baritone. The chords are shown to you on Chordie or you can download a pdf of ukulele chords to print out.
YouTube versions of “Higher Ground”
Two versions of the hymn in different keys.
Don’t forget, Ken Middleton has a ebook of hymns for ukulele if you’re interested.
On Scott’s blog he asked what hymns work best on the ukulele. My response would be if you can imagine it then it could work on the ukulele.
How you play a hymn — strumming, fingerpicking — will make some difference in the style of the hymn — but that is about preference. The ukulele is not an instrument where anyone should say, “This song won’t work on the uke.” Especially if it is a hymn.
I had not heard of a Psalmodikon instrument before (also mentioned by Scott) which has interesting possibilities.