Why is my Heart so Oft Distrest

Why is my heart so oft distrest

In seeking comfort here?

Why do my thoughts unstable prove

And seldom calms appear?

O how my busie tho’ts do rove

On trifling things below,

And cannot rest on things above

Where springs of blessing flow!

How do I vex and grieve my Soul

With weariness and pain,

While rambling thro’ this desart land

I seek for rest in vain!

But Lord it is thy Glory still

That I would have in view:

O give me peace and give me strength

Thy Glory I’ll pursue!

I can’t enjoy my self in thee

While thorns do wound my heart;

Heal thou the passions of my mind,

Cure thou my bleeding smart!

Hast thou not call’d me by thy Grace

To seek thy promis’d Love?

Lord I would love thy absent face

But yet my passions rove.

Have I not beg’d and oft implor’d

Thou wouldst my heart recall?

And shall I seek thy aid in vain

And not resign to all?

Are thy ears deafen’d to my cry

That will not hear my moan?

Sure there is pity in thy heart

To answer every groan!

If thou’lt not answer, let me vent

My soul in floods of tears;

Whilst thou art deaf to my complaint,

May it unseal thy ears!

Lord if thou lead me by this hand

Why must I anguish feel?

Why doest thou then withold thy strength

To bow my stubborn will?

Incline thine ear O Lord and hear

And let me hear thee speak;

And if my heart then flinty be

Thy grace the flint can break.

Do thou indulge my weak address

Since thou delight’st to show

Thy mercy to the seeking soul

That waits on thee below.

Lord shall I seek and seek in vain

And still no answer have?

Lord canst thou ever be unkind

To those whom thou wilt save?

Or have my sins block’d up the way

Thou canst not enter o’er?

Sure thou art wisdom to direct

As well as strength and pow’r!

Lord thou shalt be my all in all

If thou wilt me direct,

And still thy goodness I’ll proclaim

And walk more circumspect.

And if thou wilt but once impart

Thy gracious Love to me,

I’ll then resign my hand and heart

And all I have to thee.

Text: Steele Collection, 3/1/5, no. 5 Angus Library, Regent's Park College, Oxford; this poem first published in Nonconformist Women Writers, 1720-1840, vol. 2 (ed. Julia B. Griffin), p. 128-29.