From Heavenly Harmony
Bend Down Thy Gracious Ear
by Ken Myers
The Reformation's lasting influence on the music of the Church begins with the publication in early 1524 of Etlich Cristlich lider Lobgesang, the first Lutheran hymnbook. Also known as the Achtliederbuch, the Hymnal of Eight, it contained the German texts for just eight hymns (four of which were by Luther) and only five tunes. One of the texts—printed under the heading, "Der Psalm de Profundis"—was Luther's paraphrase of Psalm 130. Better known by its first several words in German, "Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir," this hymn has been translated into English numerous times, sometimes as "From deepest woe," or "From depths of woe," or—following the Latin more literally—"Out of the depths."
From deepest woe I cry to thee;
Lord, hear me, I implore thee!
Bend down thy gracious ear to me;
I lay my sins before thee.
If thou rememberest every sin,
If nought but just reward we win,
Could we abide thy presence?
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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