IN THE GARDEN written in 1913
Austin Miles (1868-1946) had a job as a pharmacist and a hobby as a photographer, but in his church he was known as the song-leader and an occasional songwriter. On his first songwriting effort, a publisher not only offered him a contract but also offered him a job as an editor.
It all went well for Austin in the music business, until one day his boss told him he needed a special kind of song for their next hymnal. It had to be “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line; one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows in dying beds.”
It was a tall order, but Austin opened his Bible to his favorite chapter, John 20, and tried to recreate the scene with his photographer’s eye. He remembered it this way: “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, walked slowly into the shadows. It was Mary.”
Then the words came to him, and he wrote down – as quickly as he could – the words we now have as this song, “In the Garden”.
The song was actually written in a cold, dreary and leaky basement in Pitman, New Jersey that didn’t even have a window in it, let alone a view of a garden. But Austin saw something beyond the walls of that basement… and described the greatest morning in history!
Read this hymn, and – today – imagine being in that Garden near the tomb… with Jesus.
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. (Refrain)
I’d stay in the garden with Him, though the night around me be falling,
but He bids me go; through the voice of woe His voice to me is calling. (Refrain)