Singing through the Year: Out of the Depths

“Out of the Depths” is a many-layered hymn text. It begins in this Sunday’s reading of Psalm 130. Martin Luther versified the psalm in the 1500s, and since then, several people have made English translations. The text’s setting common in hymnals also has a couple layers: Luther wrote the tune AUS TIEFER NOT and about two centuries later, J. S. Bach harmonized it.

The translation I’ve chosen is by the American professor and poet Gracia Grindal. I like it because it preserves the sense of Psalm 130 while using language that doesn’t feel stilted or archaic.

Here’s how the text begins (and you can find the rest here):

Out of the depths I cry to you;
O Lord God, hear me calling.
Incline your ear to my distress in spite of my rebelling.
Do not regard my sinful deeds.
Send me the grace my spirit needs;
Without it I am nothing.

This is a simple rendition of the hymn if you would like to learn the melody.