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About Today’s Music – Ash Wednesday

Therefore my hope is in the Lord   The HYMN OF THE DAY, “From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee” (607) is Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) paraphrase of Psalm 130.

Luther and Psalm Hymns   In 1523, Luther asked his colleague, the court chaplain George Spalatin (1484-1545) to help him write “German Psalms,” paraphrases of the Psalms in the German language.  He assigned Spalatin to write on Psalm 6 or 143, or if they were too difficult, to try 33, 34, or 103.  Luther asked another friend to do Psalm 32, and mentioned that he had already done 130.

There is no record of Luther’s colleagues completing the task.    Luther’s “From Depths of Woe” on Psalm 130 was his example to follow for this proposed project.  It was published in May 1524.  Luther also wrote hymns on Psalms 12, 14, 46, 67, and 124.

In the Achtliederbuch (“Eight Song Book”), it had four stanzas—conflating stanzas 2 and 3, but soon after it had the complete five stanzas, including the 1524 Geystliche gesangk Buchleyn by Johann Walter.

Notably it has been sung at funerals, including that of Frederick the Wise and of Luther himself.  Thus it is fitting to sing today as we ponder our own mortality: Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.

The choir sings stanzas 2 and 4 by Benedictus Ducis (1492-1544), who served as organist in Antwerp.  He made a number of contributions to Lutheran music in choral settings of chorales, published by early Lutheran publisher and composer Georg Rhau (1488-1548).

Divine Service is at 7pm.  The lessons are Joel 2.12-19; 2 Peter 1.2-11; and St. Matthew 6.1-6, 16-21. The hymns are: 607 From Depths of Woe I Cry to Thee; 440 Jesus, I Will Ponder Now; 419 Savior, When in Dust to Thee; 418 O Lord, throughout These Forty Days. Also, Lauds will be prayed at 9:30am, and Vespers at 4:30pm.

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