Don’t you wonder at times about the origin of some of the old hymns of the Christian church? What event or thoughts brought the writer to the point of penning the words, some so comforting and reassuring?
The hymns are very important to most of us who grew up singing them in church. I was privileged to hear them at home, as well, as my mother played them on the organ and let me sing along with her. Those are special memories for me.
A favorite hymn of so many people is “In the Garden,” written in 1912. When singing this song, I have often visualized a person walking into a flower garden to spend some quiet time with the Lord.
The other day I read that the writer of the song, C. Austin Miles, wrote the song in the month of April, in a dark room where he developed photographs for a publishing company. The story goes that Mr. Miles had opened his Bible to read his favorite scripture, John 20, about the meeting between Mary and Jesus near the empty tomb in the garden after His resurrection. After finding the tomb empty, Mary was in tears and turned around, soon to be approached by Jesus who called out her name to comfort her.
Mr. Miles said he felt he was a part of the scene as he read the verses and visualized such a sweet encounter. In what he called a vision, he saw Mary crying and then turning around to see Jesus. She immediately knelt and looked into His face and cried, “Rabboni!”
Miles said his dark room seemed to light up and he quickly found paper and pencil to record the words that came to him: “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…”
In all my years of singing and playing this song, I had never related the words to Mary’s meeting with Jesus. The scene sheds a whole new light on the lyrics: “He speaks and the sound of His voice is so sweet the birds hush their singing…I’d stay in the garden with Him though the night around me be falling, but He bids me go…”
In Mary’s distress over losing her best friend, can’t you imagine those words describe how she must have felt that day? She surely would have experienced peace and would have wanted to stay there with Him forever.
With Easter upon us, we might all do well to sit down in a quiet place and slowly sing the words to that song as we visualize what Resurrection Sunday was like for Mary as she met her risen Savior “in the Garden,” after fearing all hope was gone.
Maybe we can truly let the words, “He walks with me, and He talks with me; and He tells me I am His own,” be our testimony as we face each new day in this busy and crazy world. The Risen Lord is our only sure foundation – and the joy He gives does surpass all understanding!
Lora Ann Huff is a Wenasoga resident and special columnist for the Daily Corinthian. Her column appears Friday. She may be reached at 1774 CR 700, Corinth, MS 38834.