Latin phase, literally, "out of the depths." Taken from the Latin Vulgate version of the 129th psalm, it generally connotes a sense of deep, philosophical reflection on existential issues.

Also, the De Profundis is one of the fifteen Gradual Psalms, which were sung by the Jewish pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem, and which are still contained in the Roman breviary. It is also one of the seven Penitential Psalms which, in the East and the West, were already used as such by the early Christians. In the Divine Office the De Profundis is sung every Wednesday at Vespers, also at the second Vespers of Christmas


V. De profundis clamavi ad te, Domine;
R. Domine, exaudi vocem meam.
V. Fiant aures tuae intendentes
R. In vocem deprecationis meae.
V. Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine;
R. Domine, quis sustinebit?
V. Quia apud te propitiatio est;
R. et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
V. Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus;
R. Speravit anima mea in Domino.
V. A custodia matutina usque ad noctem,
R. Speret Israel in Domino.
V. Quia apud Dominum misericordia,
R. Et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
V. Et ipse redimet Israel
R. Ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.
V. Gloria patri, et filio,
R. et Spiritui Sancto.
V. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper,
R. et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

Close, kenata.
English translation:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to my voice in supplication:

If you, O Lord, mark iniquities,
Lord, who can stand?
But with you is forgiveness,
that you may be revered.

I trust in the Lord;
my soul trusts in his word.
My soul waits for the Lord,
more than sentinels wait for the dawn.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the Lord;

For with the Lord is kindness
and with him is plenteous redemption;
And he will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.

Glory be the Father, to the Son
and the Holy Spirit
As it was in the beginning
Is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Also a long and depressing rant by Oscar Wilde.

When Wilde was in prison, having been convicted of the love that dare not speak its name (with the Unspeakable Vice of the Greeks for a chaser), he wrote an interminable and unreadable letter to his then-ex lover Alfred Lord Douglas1. The letter was entitled "De Profundis". Wilde was very upset and had a lot of time on his hands, and he spent 92 pages recapitulating their relationship in detail, beating Douglas about the head and shoulders (Douglas richly deserved it), and feeling sorry for himself. Now and then he took a break to ponder the imponderable vis-a-vis The Aesthetic Temperament, aesthetics in general, Life, etc. ad naus.

It's pretty grim. I couldn't get through the whole thing. Oscar Wilde was a brilliant satirist posing as a Victorian moralist posing as an iconoclast; that's what he was good at. It's great to try new things and all, but sometimes it doesn't work.



1 Wilde got himself into prison by suing Douglas' father for libel when Douglas' father accused him of being a homosexual. One thing led to another, and the law took notice of the fact that Wilde was, in fact, gay. In England in the late 19th century, that was a criminal offense. Grim stuff.

De Profundis, written by Oscar Wilde while he was in prison for homosexual acts, is a novella-length essay and memoir, directed towards his ex-lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. It was published shortly after Wilde's death. The title means "From the Depths", which could be interpreted in several ways.

I have heard it said of Van Morrison, another great Irish artist, that he could sing the phonebook and it would be beautiful. Although the format and subject matter might seem like poor material for 150 pages of writing, Wilde's wit, insight and phrasing are so well done that he gained my sympathy and interest. Anger at an ex-lover for being unfaithful and generally (as the kids would call it now) a douche is hardly a good model for universal prose on the human condition, but here, that is exactly what Wilde makes it.

This work also reflects Wilde's growing religious conscience, and a large part of it is dedicated to his admiration for Jesus. While he still puts a heavy emphasis on art, he seems to repudiate much of his prior image. One of the messages of this book is that beauty is different from appearance, and that "aesthetic" doesn't mean "shallow". (One of the more obvious meanings of the title).

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