Luther, Martin, born at Eisleben, Nov. 10, 1483; entered the University of Erfurt, 1501 (B.A. 1502, M.A.. 1503); became an Augustinian monk, 1505; ordained priest, 1507; appointed Professor at the University of Wittenberg, 1508, and in 1512 D.D.; published his 95 Theses, 1517; and burnt the Papal Bull which had condemned them, 1520; attended the Diet of Worms, 1521; translated the Bible into German, 1521-34; and died at Eisleben, Feb. 18, 1546. The details of his life and of his work as a reformer are accessible to English readers in a great variety of forms. Luther had a huge influence on German hymnody.
i. Hymn Books.
1. Ellich cristlich lider Lobgesang un Psalm. Wittenberg, 1524. [Hamburg Library.] This contains 8 German h… Go to person page >
Aus tiefer Woth schrei ich zu dir. Martin Luther. [Ps. cxxx.] This beautiful, though free, version of Ps. cxxx. was written in 1523. Ps. cxxx. was a great favourite with Luther, one of those he called Pauline Psalms —the others being Ps. xxxii., li., and cxliii. With its versification he took special pains, and the final result ranks with the finest of German Psalm versions. It first appeared in 4 stanzas of 7 lines in Etlich cristlich lider, Wittenberg, 1524, and in Eyn Enchiridion, Erfurt, 1524. The form now in use considerably altered, and with stanza ii. rewritten as ii., iii., appeared in the Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn, Wittenberg, 1524, in 5 stanzas was included as No. 1 in Luther's Christliche Geseng zum Begrebnis, Wittenberg, 1542, and since in almost all German hymn-books, as recently in the Unverfälschter Liedersegen, 1851, No. 362. Both forms are included in Wackernagel’s D. Kirchenlied, iii. pp. 7-8, and in Schircks's ed. of Luther's Geistliche Lieder, 1854, pp. 66-68.
The fine melody (in the Irish Church Hymnal called De profundis; elsewhere, Luther's 130th, &c.) is possibly by Luther, and first appeared, with the 5 stanza form, in 1524.
The hymn was sung, May 9, 1525, at the funeral of the Elector Friedrich the Wise in the Court church at Wittenberg; by the weeping multitude at Halle when, on Feb. 20, 1546, Luther's body was being taken to its last resting-place at Wittenberg; and again as the last hymn in the Cathedral at Strasburg before the city was captured by the French in 1681. Stanza v. comforted the last hours of Christian, Elector of Saxony, 1591, of Johann Georg L, Elector of Saxony, 1656, and of King Friedrich I. of Prussia, 1723 (Koch, viii. 211-216).
Translations in common use:—
5. From depths of woe I raise to Thee. Good and full by R. Massie in his M. Luther's Spiritual Songs, 1854, p. 73. Thence unaltered as No. 64 in the 1857 edition of Mercer's Church Psalm & Hymn Book (Ox. ed., 1864, No. 150), and since in the Scottish Hymnal, 1870, the Scottish Presbyterian Hymnal, 1876 (omitting stanza iv,), and the Canadian Presbyterian Hymn Book, 1880. [Rev. James Mearns, M.A.]
-- Excerpt from John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)