“In the Garden” by Austin Miles.
The composer captured the vivid emotion that Mary must have felt upon seeing the risen Jesus three days after he was buried. Following were his actual words regarding his piece:
“One day in April, 1912, I was seated in the dark room where I kept my photographic equipment, and also my organ. I drew my Bible toward me and it opened at my favorite book and chapter, John chapter twenty.
I don’t know if this was by chance or by the work of the Holy Spirit. I will let you the reader decide. That story of Jesus and Mary in John 20 had lost none of its power and charm.
It was though I was in a trance, 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”…
I awakened in sunlight, gripping my Bible with my muscles tense, and nerves vibrating, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared… That same evening, I wrote the tune. It is sung today as it was written in 1912.”
(C. Austin Miles, songwriter)
From its first release in 1912, it rose to prominence in the early twentieth century. There were about 85 versions of records by our favorite country singers. We have Tennessee Ernie Ford (1956), Jim Reeves(1959),Ray Price(1960), Connie Smith (1966),Loretta Lynn (1968),Willie Nelson (1976), Glen Campbell (1989), Dolly Parton (1999),Randy Travis, Johnny Cash, George Jones (all in 2003) and Alabama (2006) to name a few.
Though not much use in congregational singing, the hymn was often sung during testimonies or simply for evening meditations and devotionals. The personal touch on its wordings will usher the singer into an intimate mode thinking he will be spending time in communion with Jesus.
Here are two of my favorite renditions. Enjoy!
Elvis Presley’s version
Alan Jackson’s version
Alan Jackson, Elvis Presley, gospel, Hymns, songwriters
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