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Psalm 130

De Profundis, in Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry, Folio 70r, held by the Musée Condé, Chantilly

Psalm 130 (Vulgate numbering: Psalm 129) is the 130th psalm of the Book of Psalms, one of the Penitential psalms. The first verse is a call to God in deep sorrow, from "out of the depths" (Out of the deep), as it is translated in the King James Version of the Bible respectively in the Book of Common Prayer. The psalm is also known by its Latin incipit, De profundis.

The psalm is a regular part of Jewish, Catholic, and Anglican liturgies. It has been set to music often, including funeral music. It was paraphrased in hymns.


The Hebrew text and transliteration of Psalm 130 and its translation are as follows:[1]

א שִׁיר הַמַּעֲלוֹת: מִמַּעֲמַקִּים קְרָאתִיךָ יְהוָה. ב אֲדֹנָי, שִׁמְעָה בְקוֹלִי: תִּהְיֶינָה אָזְנֶיךָ, קַשֻּׁבוֹת לְקוֹל, תַּחֲנוּנָי. ג אִם-עֲוֺנוֹת תִּשְׁמָר-יָהּ אֲדֹנָי, מִי יַעֲמֹד. ד כִּי-עִמְּךָ הַסְּלִיחָה לְמַעַן, תִּוָּרֵא. ה קִוִּיתִי יְהוָה, קִוְּתָה נַפְשִׁי; וְלִדְבָרוֹ הוֹחָלְתִּי. ו נַפְשִׁי לַאדֹנָי מִשֹּׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר, שֹׁמְרִים לַבֹּקֶר. ז יַחֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶל-יְהוָה: כִּי-עִם-יְהוָה הַחֶסֶד; וְהַרְבֵּה עִמּוֹ פְדוּת. ח וְהוּא, יִפְדֶּה אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל מִכֹּל, עֲוֺנֹתָיו.

The traditional Latin version from the Sixto-Clementine Vulgate, translated from the Septuagint Greek, and its translation, read as follows.


This lament in eight verses, a Penitential Psalm, is the De profundis used in liturgical prayers for the faithful departed in Western liturgical tradition. In deep sorrow the psalmist cries to God (vs. 1-2), asking for mercy (vs. 3-4). The psalmist's trust (vs. 5-6) becomes a model for the people (vs. 7-8).

v 1: "the depths" here is a metaphor of total misery. Deep anguish makes the psalmist feel "like those who go down to the pit" (Psalm 143:7). Robert Alter points out that '..."the depths" are an epithet for the depths of the sea, which in turn is an image of the realm of death'.[2] Other Bible passages (Creation, the dwelling of Leviathan, Jesus stilling the storm) also resonate with imagery of fear and chaos engendered by the depths of the sea.

v 3: "If you, Lord, were to mark iniquities, who, O Lord, shall stand?" is a temporary shift from the personal to the communal; this plurality (the nation, Israel) again appears in the final two verses.

v 4: "that you may be revered". The experience of God's mercy leads one to a greater sense of God.



Scroll of the Psalms
  • Psalm 130 is recited as part of the liturgy for the High Holidays, sung responsively before the open Torah ark during the morning service from Rosh Hashanah until Yom Kippur. The custom of reciting this psalm during these times had long lain dormant until it was revived in the Birnbaum and Artscroll siddurim in the 20th century.[3]
  • It is recited following Mincha between Sukkot and Shabbat Hagadol.[4]
  • It is recited during Tashlikh.[5]
  • It is also among those psalms traditionally recited "in times of communal distress".[6]
  • In some synagogues, it is said on every weekday. In Hebrew, it is often called "(Shir HaMa'alot) MiMa'amakim" after its initial words.
  • Verses 3-4 are part of the opening paragraph of the long Tachanun recited on Mondays and Thursdays.[7]


According to the rule of Saint Benedict established around 530, the psalm was used at the beginning of the vespers service on Tuesday, followed by Psalm 131 (130.[8][9])

In the current Liturgy of the Hours, the psalm is recited or sung at vespers on the Saturday of the fourth week, [10] and on Wednesday evenings. In the Liturgy of the Mass, Psalm 130 is read on the 10th Sunday of Ordinary Time in Year B and on the 5th Sunday of Lent in Year C8.[11]


The title "De Profundis" was used as the title of a poem by Spanish author Federico García Lorca in his Poema del cante jondo.

A long letter by Oscar Wilde, written to his former lover Lord Alfred Douglas near the end of Wilde's life while he was in prison, also bears the title "De Profundis", although it was given the title after Wilde's death). Poems by Alfred Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charles Baudelaire, Christina Rossetti, C. S. Lewis, Georg Trakl, Dorothy Parker and José Cardoso Pires bear the same title.

In the novel Fires on the Plain by Shōhei Ōoka, the character Tamura makes reference to the psalm's first line "De profundis clamavi" in a dream sequence.[12]


Martin Luther paraphrased Psalm 130 to the hymn Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir ("Out of deep distress I cry to you"), which has inspired several composers, including Bach (cantatas Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir, BWV 131 and Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir, BWV 38), Mendelssohn and Reger.

Musical settings

This psalm has been frequently set to music, as part of musical settings for the Requiem, especially under its Latin incipit "De profundis":

Some other works named De profundis but with texts not derived from the psalm include:


  1. ^ "Tehillim - Psalms - Chapter 130". 2018. Retrieved January 18, 2018. 
  2. ^ Alter, Robert (2007). The Book of Psalms: a translation with commentary. W.W.Norton. ISBN 978-0-393-06226-7. 
  3. ^ 1,001 Questions and Answers on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur By Jeffrey M. Cohen, page 167
  4. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 530
  5. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 772
  6. ^ Weintraub, Rabbi Simkha Y. "Psalms as the Ultimate Self-Help Tool". My Jewish Learning. Retrieved January 18, 2018. 
  7. ^ The Complete Artscroll Siddur page 125
  8. ^ Rule of Saint Benedict, traduction de Prosper Guéranger, (Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, réimpression 2007)
  9. ^ Psautier latin-français du bréviaire monastique, p. 502, 1938/2003.
  10. ^ Le cycle principal des prières liturgiques se déroule sur quatre semaines.
  11. ^ Le cycle des lectures des messes du dimanche se déroule sur trois ans.
  12. ^ Ōoka, Shōhei (1957), Fires on the Plain, Tokyo, Japan: Tuttle Co., p. 86, ISBN 978-0-8048-1379-2 .
  13. ^ Pothárn Imre (submitted 2002-03-29). "De Profundis Clamavi"


External links