Psalm 130: From Down in the Depths

Psalm 130 ranks as one of the best-known Psalms of confession, second only to Psalm 51. Naturally, there are many great songs based on Psalm 130, including Luther’s “Aus Tiefer Not” and Karl Digerness’ “Out of the Depths.”

My new setting started as a scrap of paper with the words “out of the deep” and four notes: C, F, E, F. I’ve carried around that scrap of paper for 20 years! This week my long-term intention of turning those four words/notes into a setting of Psalm 130 was finally realized.

Like all my Pilgrim Psalms, this new song focuses on simplicity. The call and response format means the leader can “feed” new lines to the people. After singing it a few times it should be pretty easy to remember, even without music or words.

Of course, I can’t leave simple things alone. I soon found myself composing a six-part canon on top of the harmonic structure, played on this recording by the King of Instruments: the melodica.

1. From down in the depths, we cry out to you.
Lord, open your ears and listen to our voice.

2. For you know our sins, but we know your grace.
Forgive us, O God, in reverence we wait.

3. We wait for the Lord, for God is our hope.
We wait for the Lord; we know that dawn will come.

4. We hope in the Lord who saves us from sin.
We hope in God’s love to save us once again.

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