Out of the Depths / From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee (De profundis)

This Good Friday hymn, based on Psalm 129/130, was originally written by Martin Luther, 1523 in German, titled "Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir".

It is known as "De profundis", based on the opening words of Psalm 129 in the Latin (Vulgate) edition of the Bible.

A translation from German to by English Unitarian educator, hymn-writer and women's rights activist, Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878) was first published in the Chorale Book for England, 1863. 

There are now a great many variations on the original translation which have been published, and it has been next-to-impossible to determine who first created each one.   Most appear to be attributed to Winkworth alt.    One common translation is given below, along with another composite translation, author unknown.

With meter, tunes it is set to include:
  • AUS TIEFER NOT mel­o­dy by Martin Luther, 1524
  • ST MARTIN by James Sheppard.



Amateur choir, with organ:

Singer, unaccompanied:


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

Thou grantest pardon through Thy love;
Thy grace alone availeth;
Our works could ne’er our guilt remove;
Yea, e’en the best life faileth.
For none may boast himself of aught,
But must confess Thy grace hath wrought
Whate’er in him is worthy.

And thus my hope is in the Lord,
And not in my own merit;
I rest upon His faithful Word
To them of contrite spirit.
That He is merciful and just,
Here is my comfort and my trust;
His help I wait with patience.

An alternative set of lyrics:

From depths of woe I cry to Thee,
In trial and tribulation;
Bend down Thy gracious ear to me,
Lord, hear my supplication.
If Thou rememb'rest every sin,
Who then could heaven ever win
Or stand before Thy presence?

Thy love and grace alone avail
To blot out my transgression;
The best and holiest deeds must fail
To break sin's dread oppression.
Before Thee none can boasting stand,
But all must fear Thy strict demand
And live alone by mercy.

Therefore my hope is in the Lord
And not in mine own merit;
It rests 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.

And though it tarry through the night
And till the morning waken,
My heart shall never doubt His might
Nor count itself forsaken.
O Israel, trust in God your Lord.
Born of the Spirit and the Word,
Now wait for His appearing.

Though great our sins, yet greater still
Is God's abundant favour;
His hand of mercy never will
Abandon us, nor waver.
Our shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free
From all their sin and sorrow.

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