Saturday, 28 March 2015

"From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee" Luther's 130TH psalm

It has been well said of Luther that he is the "Ambrose of German hymnody." This is high but deserved praise. His hymns are characterized by simplicity and strength and have a popular churchly tone in the true sense of that word churchly. Julian says: "They breathe the bold, confident, joyful spirit of justifying faith, which was the beating heart of his theology and piety." A striking illustration of this is found in his hymn of penitence, which is a versification of the thought of the psalmist, namely, "Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu Dir"

Luther began the writing of hymns in 1523, and as this hymn bears the date of 1524 it is therefore among the earlier of his contributions to the rich storehouse of Evangelical hymnody. His hymns were the product of his environment and the expression of his strong faith in the presence of trial. A careful reading of the text of this hymn, while it is strictly penitential, shows lines strikingly expressive
of faith and trust. There are several translations of the vigorous German of this hymn into very excellent English.

The translation which is probably most familiar and which is most widely used is that of Miss Winkworth, which we here give. It will prove excellent devotional reading.

Luther's 130TH psalm


Out of the depths I cry to Thee,
Lord, hear me, I implore Thee!
Bend down Thy gracious ear to me,
Let my prayer come before Thee!
If Thou remember each misdeed.
If each should have its rightful meed,
Who may abide Thy presence?

Our pardon is Thy gift ; Thy Love
And grace alone avail us.
Our works could ne'er our guilt remove,
The strictest life must fail us.
That none may boast himself of aught.
But own in fear Thy grace hath wrought
What in him seemeth righteous.

And thus my hope is in the Lord,
And not in mine own merit:
I rest upon His faithful word
To them of contrite spirit.
That He is merciful and just —
Here is my comfort and my trust.
His help I wait with patience.

And though it tarry till the night.
And round till morning waken,
My heart shall ne'er mistrust Thy might.
Nor count itself forsaken.
Do thus, O ye of Israel's seed.
Ye of the Spirit born indeed,
Wait for your God's appearing.

Though great our sins and sore our woes,
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.
Our kind and faithful Shepherd, He,
Who shall at last set Israel free
From all their sin and sorrow.

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