Published on Academy of American Poets (

Olney Hymns, IX [The Contrite Heart]

The Lord will happiness divine
     On contrite hearts bestow; 
Then tell me, gracious God, is mine
     A contrite heart or no?

I hear, but seem to hear in vain,
     Insensible as steel; 
If aught is felt, 'tis only pain,
     To find I cannot feel.

I sometimes think myself inclined
     To love Thee if I could; 
But often feel another mind,
     Averse to all that's good.

My best desires are faint and few,
     I fain would strive for more; 
But when I cry, "My strength renew!"
     Seem weaker than before.

Thy saints are comforted, I know,
     And love Thy house of prayer; 
I therefore go where others go,
     But find no comfort there.

Oh make this heart rejoice or ache;
     Decide this doubt for me; 
And if it be not broken, break—
     And heal it, if it be.


From Olney Hymns (1779) by William Cowper. This poem is in the public domain.


William Cowper

The first child of Reverend John Cowper and Ann Donne Cowper, Willam

Date Published: 1779-01-01

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