Hymnlines: “In The Garden”

DSC04533-Garden Of Gethsemane

Garden Of Gethsemane (Photo credit: lyng883)

Hymns have always been a soothing medicine to my spiritual heart. And not only mine, but also a dear friend who lost her husband suddenly a few months back. I asked her if there was a particular hymn that was comforting to her and she shared that the hymn, “In The Garden” was one of her favorites and would always be because it reminds her of her late husband.

Her husband often rocked their grandson to sleep. Held safe and secure in grandpa’s arms, music would naturally flow along with the steady rhythm of the rocking chair. Grandpa would start to sing softly, “I come to the garden alone…”. Any song that was a favorite to grandpa was a favorite to grandson, and even though just a tiny tot, it wasn’t long before he could add his sweet voice to grandpa’s deep one . . . “while the dew is still on the roses . . . “.

Having family worship one evening after her husband’s death, my friend relayed the rest of the story: “To our surprise, my grandson chimed in and sang all three verses of the hymn. He was barely three years old. When we asked him where he had learned that hymn, he replied, ‘My grampy taught me!’ I still cry when I hear the hymn played because my husband loved it so much.”

“In The Garden” was composed rather quickly by Charles Austin Miles (1868-1946), a pharmacist turned hymn writer and church music director. Being an amateur photographer, he was in his dark room waiting for film to develop. Here is the account by Mr. Miles himself: “One day, in April, 1912, 1 was seated in the dark room, where I kept my photographic equipment and organ. I drew my Bible toward me; it opened at my favorite chapter, John 20–whether by chance or inspiration let each reader decide. That meeting of Jesus and Mary had lost none of its power and charm.

As I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary’s life, when she knelt before her Lord, and cried, Rabboni!

My hands were resting on the Bible while I stared at the light blue wall. As the light faded, I seemed to be standing at the entrance of a garden, looking down a gently winding path, shaded by olive branches. A woman in white, with head bowed, hand clasping her throat, as if to choke back her sobs, walked slowly into the shadows. it was Mary. As she came to the tomb, upon which she placed her hand, she bent over to look in, and hurried away. John, in flowing robe, appeared, looking at the tomb; then came Peter, who entered the tomb, followed slowly by John.

As they departed, Mary reappeared; leaning her head upon her arm at the tomb, she wept. Turning herself, she saw Jesus standing, so did 1. 1 knew it was He. She knelt before Him, with arms outstretched and looking into His face cried, Rabboni!

I awakened in sunlight, grip­ping the Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music.” (tanbible.com)

Like many hymns, this one is timeless and moving, especially for my dear friend who finds both peace and release of grief when she hears this hymn. The lyrics follow. You may know them well in which case you can hear the tune in your head. If not, please listen to it on YouTube by such artists as Alan Jackson or Jim Reeves for a personal blessing just for you.

In The Garden
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses . . .

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

He speaks and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that he gave to me,
Within my heart is ringing . . .

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other, has ever, known!

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher).  John 20:15-16

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