From Depths of Woe

Psalm 130 has been providentially popping up lately, from singing it in corporate worship to listening to versions of it, to coming across it in readings. It’s a brief psalm of repentance that speaks of hope, God’s holiness, and redemption. I’ve stumbled across Psalm 130 manifested in the RUF version of Martin Luther’s hymn (“From Depths of Woe”) to Nathan Clark George’s version (“My Soul Waits”), and another RUF version of a hymn (“Out of the Deep I Call”). I think Bach included this psalm as part of one of his cantadas, too.

What strikes me about this psalm and subsequent versions of it is how awesome God has been in preserving his Word throughout the ages. For example, when I sing the RUF version of Luther’s hymn, I am singing words that were penned by the psalmist several millennia ago, sung by the people of Israel for centuries, re-interpreted by Luther 500 years ago, and still sung today. Millions of believers have read or sung these words and confessed together with the psalmist the need for God’s mercy and redemption. Millions have confessed that if the Lord should “mark iniquities, who could stand?” These thoughts make the psalm even more powerful because of God’s steadfast promises of redemption that he has fulfilled in Christ and has preserved for his people through the ages.

Psalm 130 (ESV):

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for mercy!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.

Read Luther’s “From Depths of Woe” here and listen to an IG demo version here.

Listen to “My Soul Waits” by Nathan Clark George here (scroll down to the Rise in the Darkness Album, track 11).

Read “Out of the Deep I Call” here and listen to an IG demo version here.


One thought on “From Depths of Woe

  1. great post. This is one of my favorite psalms and will often read it during a visitation. There are other more familiar psalms that are good for reading to someone struggling with ill health, etc…, but I don’t think there is anything better for me to share than the Gospel (Luther referred to this psalm as a “Pauline Psalm”). Also, I love Luther’s hymb. Yale RUF did a musically appropriate version of “From the Depths of Woe” – it starts out very low-key and somber with the first two stanzas and then the music lifts as the last few stanzas speak of the grace of our redemption.


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