Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee

Out of the depths I cry to Thee, Lord God! oh hear my prayer! (Winkworth)

Translator: Catherine Winkworth; Author: Martin Luther (1524)
Confession Songs
Published in 46 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF
Audio files: Recording

Full Text

1 Out of the depths 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 remember each misdeed,
If each should have its rightful meed,
Who may abide Thy presence?

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

3 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,--
This is my comfort and my trust,
His help I wait with patience.

4 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.

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 kind and faithful Shepherd He,
Who shall at last set Israel free
From all their sin and sorrow.


Source: The Hymnal and Order of Service #406

Translator: Catherine Winkworth

Catherine Winkworth is "the most gifted translator of any foreign sacred lyrics into our tongue, after Dr. Neale and John Wesley; and in practical services rendered, taking quality with quantity, the first of those who have laboured upon German hymns. Our knowledge of them is due to her more largely than to any or all other translators; and by her two series of Lyra Germanica, her Chorale Book, and her Christian Singers of Germany, she has laid all English-speaking Christians under lasting obligation." --Annotations of the Hymnal, Charles Hutchins, M.A., 1872… Go to person page >

Author: Martin Luther

Luther, Martin, born at Eisleben, Nov. 10, 1483; entered the University of Erfurt, 1501 (B.A. 1502, M.A.. 1503); became an Augustinian monk, 1505; ordained priest, 1507; appointed Professor at the University of Wittenberg, 1508, and in 1512 D.D.; published his 95 Theses, 1517; and burnt the Papal Bull which had condemned them, 1520; attended the Diet of Worms, 1521; translated the Bible into German, 1521-34; and died at Eisleben, Feb. 18, 1546. The details of his life and of his work as a reformer are accessible to English readers in a great variety of forms. Luther had a huge influence on German hymnody. i. Hymn Books. 1. Ellich cristlich lider Lobgesang un Psalm. Wittenberg, 1524. [Hamburg Library.] This contains 8 German h… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: Out of the depths I cry to Thee, Lord God! oh hear my prayer! (Winkworth)
Title: Out of the Depths I Cry to Thee
German Title: Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir
Author: Martin Luther (1524)
Translator: Catherine Winkworth
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain
Liturgical Use: Confession Songs


Aus tiefer Woth schrei ich zu dir. Martin Luther. [Ps. cxxx.] This beautiful, though free, version of Ps. cxxx. was written in 1523. Ps. cxxx. was a great favourite with Luther, one of those he called Pauline Psalms —the others being Ps. xxxii., li., and cxliii. With its versification he took special pains, and the final result ranks with the finest of German Psalm versions. It first appeared in 4 stanzas of 7 lines in Etlich cristlich lider, Wittenberg, 1524, and in Eyn Enchiridion, Erfurt, 1524. The form now in use considerably altered, and with stanza ii. rewritten as ii., iii., appeared in the Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn, Wittenberg, 1524, in 5 stanzas was included as No. 1 in Luther's Christliche Geseng zum Begrebnis, Wittenberg, 1542, and since in almost all German hymn-books, as recently in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 362. Both forms are included in Wackernagel’s D. Kirchenlied, iii. pp. 7-8, and in Schircks's ed. of Luther's Geistliche Lieder, 1854, pp. 66-68.
The fine melody (in the Irish Church Hymnal called De profundis; elsewhere, Luther's 130th, &c.) is possibly by Luther, and first appeared, with the 5 stanza form, in 1524.
The hymn was sung, May 9, 1525, at the funeral of the Elector Friedrich the Wise in the Court church at Wittenberg; by the weeping multitude at Halle when, on Feb. 20, 1546, Luther's body was being taken to its last resting-place at Wittenberg; and again as the last hymn in the Cathedral at Strasburg before the city was captured by the French in 1681. Stanza v. comforted the last hours of Christian, Elector of Saxony, 1591, of Johann Georg L, Elector of Saxony, 1656, and of King Friedrich I. of Prussia, 1723 (Koch, viii. 211-216).
Translations in common use:—

6. Out of the depths I cry to Thee, Lord God! oh hear my prayer. In full by Miss Winkworth in her Lyra Germanica, 1855, p. 65, and thence unaltered as No. 626 in the Wesleyan Hymn Book, 1875. The lines 1-4 of stanzas i., iii., v. form No. 548 in the American Unitarian Hymn [& Tune] Book, Boston, 1868. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]

-- Excerpts from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



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Include 43 pre-1979 instances