"Will you please consider taking over the ladies Bible Study at the Nursing Home in Granville?" It was our Pastor's voice on the other end of the line. I hesitated for a moment, but quickly understood that it was something I needed to do.
I travel back thirty years in time to that small farming community in Upstate New York, to the little country church that was the center of our lives, to a Pastor whose teaching changed my life, to an old nursing home with aging ladies who would come to bless me more than I could ever hope to bless them.
We began each Bible Study with a little hymn sing. I always asked for requests. There was one sweet elderly woman whose hand always shot up first, and whose choice was always the same: "In The Garden."
I can still hear the sweet warbling voices and see in their dear faces what the words of that hymn meant to them. I can never hear it without thinking of them. I remember the morning that same lady came up to me and pressed something into my hand. It was a long piece of bright pink lace edging she had tatted. I still have it - a treasured gift from a tender heart.
"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.
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.
This hymn was written in March, 1912 by C. Austin Miles, a pharmacist who wrote gospel songs and had a love of photography. One day while waiting for film to process in his dark room he opened his Bible to John 20. Here in his own words is what happened:
"As I read it, that day, I seemed to be part of the scene...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 amd 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 I. I knew it was He. She knelt before Him, with arms outstretch and looking into His face, cried, 'Rabboni!'
I awakened in full light, gripping my Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words would be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That evening I wrote the music."
(taken from the book "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert J. Morgan)