Solo Ukulele Book to Improve Your Uke Playing Technique

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.

You can read more about the ukulele book on my other website. There you will find links to free pdf samples of a few songs from the book.  Or, you can purchase the book here.



“Seek Ye First” on the Ukulele

“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.

Karen Lafferty composer of
Karen Lafferty

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.

According to the “musiciansformissions” website, Lafferty is now working on writing a book about the whole experience.  I look forward to reading it — she shares on the site how people have written to tell her how the song has impacted them.

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.

You can read an interview with Karen on “Seek Ye First” at the ezine ‘Reformed Worship.’

Karen Lafferty’s New Music

Karen has a new album and you can listen to her songs on MySpace.

Karen Lafferty on YouTube about “Seek Ye First”

Higher Ground: A great hymn to practice ukulele

“Higher Ground” is one of my favorite hymns — mostly because of the tempo and ease of three chords.

History of Hymn “Higher Ground”

History of Higher Ground can be found  at Bible Study Charts.  It’s interesting to note “Count Your Blessings” was written by the same person.

Ukulele Tabs for “Higher Ground” hymn

You can purchase the ukulele tabs for Higher Ground as part of Ken Middleton’s ebook, 12 Hymn Tunes for Ukulele.

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: “Higher Ground”


Ken Middleton has a ebook of hymns for ukulele if you’re interested.

Nearer My God to Thee: Ukulele Tab

Tab for this version of Nearer My God to Thee 

History of the song

A version of this hymn in C.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee;
G C G D7 G
E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be
Bm Em Bm D7
Near er, my God, to Thee,
G C G D7 G
Nearer, my God, to Thee, near er to Thee.

Though, like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
Darkness be over me, my rest a stone,
Yet in my dreams I’d be
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

There let the way appear steps unto heaven;
All that Thou sendest me in mercy given;
Angels to beckon me
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee.

A good duet and ukulele version below:

Hymns, Church and Stringed Instruments and a contest

It’s been interesting to read how Rev Eliot’s ukulele intentions went this summer.

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.

Also, it’s not to late to enter the ukulele contest by UkuleleGodspellcontest.

Here’s one of the entries.