This year on my annual Reformation Day (which is actually tomorrow) tribute to Martin Luther, I want to post a hymn he wrote. Luther was a talented musician and was the forerunner of advocating that common worshippers use music in public worship. We all are familiar with his rousing hymn, “A Mighty Fortress,” but Luther has many other rich hymn texts. Below is one based on Psalm 130:
“From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee”
1. From depths of woe I cry to Thee,
Lord, hear me, I implore Thee.
Bend down Thy gracious ear to me,
My prayer let come before Thee.
If Thou rememberest each misdeed,
If each should have its rightful meed,
Who may abide Thy presence?
2. Thy love and grace alone avail
To blot out my transgression;
The best and holiest deeds must fail
To break sin’s dread oppression.
Before Thee none can boasting stand,
But all must fear Thy strict demand
And live alone by mercy.
3. Therefore my hope is in the Lord
And not in mine own merit;
It rests upon His faithful Word
To them of contrite spirit
That He is merciful and just;
This is my comfort and my trust.
His help I wait with patience.
4. And though it tarry till the night
And till the morning waken,
My heart shall never doubt His 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.
5. 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 shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free
From all their sin and sorrow.
Title: 329 from The Handbook to the Lutheran Hymnal
Text: Ps. 130
Author: Martin Luther
Translated by: Catherine Winkworth, 1863, alt.
Titled: Aus tiefer Not schrei’ ich zu dir
Tune: Aus tiefer Not
1st Published in: Johann Walther’s “Gesangbuechlein”
Town: Wittenberg, 1524
And because part of what I love about Luther is his fieriness, I have to include this quote of his about music:
“When man’s natural musical ability is whetted and polished to the extent that it becomes an art, then do we note with great surprise the great and perfect wisdom of God in music, which is, after all, His product and His gift; we marvel when we hear music in which one voice sings a simple melody, while three, four, or five other voices play and trip lustily around the voice that sings its simple melody and adorn this simple melody wonderfully with artistic musical effects, thus reminding us of a heavenly dance, where all meet in a spirit of friendliness, caress and embrace. A person who gives this some thought and yet does not regard music as a marvelous creation of God, must be a clodhopper indeed and does not deserve to be called a human being; he should be permitted to hear nothing but the braying of asses and the grunting of hogs.” – Martin Luther
LOL! Said as only he could say!