Return of Joy

When darkness long has vailed my mind

Author: William Cowper
Tune: RIVAULX (Dykes)
Published in 125 hymnals

Printable scores: PDF, Noteworthy Composer
Audio files: MIDI

Representative Text

1 When darkness long has vail'd my mind,
And smiling day once more appears,
Then, my Redeemer! then I find
The folly of my doubts and fears.

2 I chide my unbelieving heart;
And blush that I should ever be
Thus prone to act so base a part,
Or harbor one hard thought of thee!

3 O let me then at length be taught
(What I am still so slow to learn,)
That God is love, and changes not,
Nor knows the shadow of a turn.

4 Sweet truth, and easy to repeat!
But when my faith is sharply try'd
I find myself a learner yet,--
Unskillful, weak, and apt to slide.

5 But, O my Lord, one look from thee
Subdues the disobedient will;
Drives doubt and discontent away,
And thy rebellious worm is still.

6 Thou art as ready to forgive,
As I am ready to repine;
Thou, therefore, all the praise receive;
Be shame, and self-abhorrence, mine.

Source: A Collection of Hymns and Prayers, for Public and Private Worship #291

Author: William Cowper

William Cowper (pronounced "Cooper"; b. Berkampstead, Hertfordshire, England, 1731; d. East Dereham, Norfolk, England, 1800) is regarded as one of the best early Romantic poets. To biographers he is also known as "mad Cowper." His literary talents produced some of the finest English hymn texts, but his chronic depression accounts for the somber tone of many of those texts. Educated to become an attorney, Cowper was called to the bar in 1754 but never practiced law. In 1763 he had the opportunity to become a clerk for the House of Lords, but the dread of the required public examination triggered his tendency to depression, and he attempted suicide. His subsequent hospitalization and friendship with Morley and Mary Unwin provided emotional st… Go to person page >

Text Information

First Line: When darkness long has vailed my mind
Title: Return of Joy
Author: William Cowper
Language: English
Copyright: Public Domain


When darkness long has veiled my mind. W. Cowper. [Peace.] First published in R. Conyer's Collection, 1772, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed “Trials overcome by Hope." When included in the Olney Hymns, 1779, Bk. iii., No. 23, it was expanded into 6 stanzas of 4 lines, and headed, "Peace after a Storm." In its full, or in an abbreviated form, it is found in several hymn-books in Great Britain and America, both old and new. Although not referred to, so far as we can find, in Cowper's Memoirs, it was evidently written at or about the same time as his "God moves in a mysterious way."

--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)



The Cyber Hymnal #11915
  • PDF (PDF)
  • Noteworthy Composer Score (NWC)


Instances (1 - 1 of 1)

The Cyber Hymnal #11915

Include 124 pre-1979 instances
Suggestions or corrections? Contact us