I’ve always loved that great old hymn “In The Garden.”
I’m sure I first heard it in the little white frame country church that my family and I attended pretty much every Sunday from the days of my youth and onward.
And, being a youngster who took everything quite literally, my association with the words of that hymn put me smack dab into Mama’s backyard rose garden......(or, maybe even more often, into the rows of beans and corn in our vegetable garden!)
“I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses........”
Nowadays, thanks to the internet, we have instant access to information about pretty much every document ever created. So I thought I’d see what I could learn about the history of this touching old hymn that has stuck with me from the days of my youth.
According to Wikipedia, the song was written by C. Austin Miles and was first published in 1912. Mr. Miles was trained as a pharmacist, but spent almost 40 years working as editor and manager for the Hall-Mack music publishing company, a prominent publisher of hymns.
Several variations of the exact inspiration for, and the birth of, the song exist online. The common thread of these stories is that Mr. Miles based the words on the New Testament book of John, the 20th chapter, in which Mary visits the empty tomb of Jesus. She then walks into a garden where she encounters the risen Saviour who “walks with me and he talks with me.....”
One storyline says that Miles, an amateur photographer, had this vision of Mary in the garden while reading his Bible by the red developing light in his photo processing darkroom. He wrote the words quickly and then composed an accompanying melody for the hymn on that same evening.
This story seems believable enough to me, as Mr. Miles is said to have read his Bible as a source of inspiration and ideas for Christian songs that he could compose. He is credited with writing almost 400 hymns.
“In The Garden” is by far his best known composition and still appears in most standard hymnals.
Gardening to me is a spiritual experience and, even though it may be stretching the original idea for the hymn just a bit, I do find comfort and inspiration In The Garden.