From Troubled Deep I Cry

April 29, 2016



Christian songs are a valuable resource for devotional life. There are always good and bad songs both textually and musically in every generation. For this week’s devotion, I want to direct our attention to a long-forgotten hymn of Martin Luther’s called From Troubled Deep I Cry. It is a hymn, based on Psalm 130, that considers the brokenness of humanity and our only hope in God’s grace. The earliest tune is in Phrygian mode which gives it a different feeling than is typical of modern songs (and our out of tune piano also adds to the feeling.) The text, written early in the reformation, reflects much of the pain Luther experienced and the music reflects well the words of the hymn. The hymn became a common song for funerals and was sung at Frederick the Wise’s and Luther’s funeral. Interestingly, George Macdonald is the one who translated this song into English.

1 From trouble deep I cry to thee,               4 And though it last into the night,
Lord God, hear thou my crying;                     And up until the morrow,
Thy gracious ear, oh, turn to me,                   Yet shall my heart hope in Gods might,
Open it to my sighing                                   Nor doubt or take to worry.
For if thou mean’st to look upon                    Thus Israel must keep his post
The wrong and evil that is done,                    For he was born of the Holy Ghost
Who Lord can stand before you?                   And for his God must tarry

2 With thee counts nothing but thy grace    5 Although our sin be great, God’s grace
To cover all our failing.                                  Is greater to relive us;
The best life cannot win the race,                 His hand is helping nothing stays,
Good works are unavailing.                          The hurt however grievous.
Before thee no one glory can,                      The Shepherd good alone is he,
And so must tremble every man,                  Who will at last set Israel free
And live by thy grace only                            From all and every trespass

3 Hope therefore in my God will I,
On my deserts not founding;
Upon him shall my heart rely,
All on his goodness grounding.
What his true word does promise me,
My comfort shall and refuge be;
That will I always wait for.


--J. Andersen, 04/29/16

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