Tuesday Hymns: “From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee” (Psalm 130)

In 1523 Martin Luther wrote “From Depths of Woe I Raise to Thee,” which was his German rendition of Psalm 130. He also wrote a tune to accompany it, but the one time we tried to sing it on Sunday night it was an unmitigated disaster (Apparently, his tune just didn’t resonate with our 21st century American ears). We usually sing it to the RUF tune made popular by Indelible Grace (of course, we do it without the funky guitar, although it always seems to end with each of us doing his or her own thing on the last phrase like a group of jazz musicians late on a Saturday night).

Tunes, notwithstanding, the message of the Psalmist was clearly captured by Luther’s verse. One of Luther’s strengths was his understanding of the depth of his personal sin, and the greater depth of the mercy and grace of God mediated to us through the perfect life and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Our German friend trumpets the grace of God throughout the hymn but especially in the second verse: “To wash away the crimson stain, Grace, grace alone availeth; Our works, alas! are all in vain; In much the best life faileth: No man can glory in thy sight, All must alike confess thy might, And live alone by mercy.”

May the Lord give us such a vision of our sin, but even more so, a vision of God’s abounding grace.

From depths of woe I raise to thee
The voice of lamentation;
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me
And hear my supplication:
If thou iniquities dost mark,
Our secret sins and misdeeds dark,
O who shall stand before thee?

To wash away the crimson stain,
Grace, grace alone availeth;
Our works, alas! are all in vain;
In much the best life faileth:
No man can glory in thy sight,
All must alike confess thy might,
And live alone by mercy.

Therefore my trust is in the Lord,
And not in mine own merit;
On him my soul shall rest, his Word
Upholds my fainting spirit:
His promised mercy is my fort,
My comfort and my sweet support;
I wait for it with patience.

What though I wait the livelong night,
And till the dawn appeareth,
My heart still trusteth in his might;
It doubteth not nor feareth:
Do thus, O ye of Israel’s seed,
Ye of the Spirit born indeed;
And wait till God appeareth.

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.


Tuesday Hymns: “How Blest is He Whose Trespass” (Psalm 32)

My blog posts have been hit and miss lately (okay, less hit and more miss) but I thought since I had a little time I would at least post a Tuesday Hymn. This is a hymn that we sang yesterday during worship that caught my attention (of course, when one is worshiping God, all hymns should catch his attention) since it spoke of the relief that one feels when he has experienced the Lord’s forgiveness. It is a metrical version of the 32nd Psalm from The Psalter, 1912. The Psalmist contrasts the guilt and heaviness of the sinner trapped in his sin versus the one “whose trespass has freely been forgiv’n” and “whose sin is wholly covered before the sight of heav’n.” We sang it to the tune of RUTHERFORD.

How blest is he whose trespass
Has freely been forgiv’n,
Whose sin is wholly covered
Before the sight of heav’n.
Blest he to whom Jehovah
Will not impute his sin.
Who has a guileless spirit,
Whose heart is true within.

While I kept guilty silence
My strength was spent with grief,
Thy hand was heavy on me,
My soul found no relief;
But when I owned my trespass,
My sin hid not from thee,
When I confessed transgression,
Then thou forgavest me.

So let the godly seek thee
In times when thou art near;
No whelming floods shall reach them,
Nor cause their hearts to fear.
In thee, O Lord, I hide me,
Thou savest me from ill,
And songs of thy salvation
My heart with rapture thrill.

I graciously will teach thee
The way that thou shalt go,
And with mine eye upon thee
My counsel make thee know.
But be ye not unruly,
Or slow to understand,
Be not perverse, but willing
To heed my wise command.

The sorrows of the wicked
In number shall abound,
But those that trust Jehovah,
His mercy shall surround.
Then in the Lord be joyful,
In song lift up your voice;
Be glad in God, ye righteous,
Rejoice, ye saints, rejoice.