Keeping the Hymns Close By

In the Garden​

Author – C. Austin Miles, 1868 – 1946
Composer – C. Austin Miles, 1868- 1946
Scripture Reference – John 20

Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things unto her. John 20:18

C. Austin Miles was a pharmacist who began writing gospel songs and eventually became an editor of hymnals and songbooks, as well as a popular music director at camp meetings, conventions, and churches. In 1912, music publisher Dr. Adam Geibel asked C. Austin Miles to write a hymn text that would be “sympathetic in tone, breathing tenderness in every line’ one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows to dying beds.”

His hobby was photography, and he found his darkroom perfect for developing, not just his photographs, but his devotional life. In its privacy and strange blue glow, Miles could read his Bible in total privacy. One day in March, 1912, while waiting for some film to develop, he opened the Bible to his favorite chapter, John 20, the story of the first Easter. Miles has left the following account of the writing of this hymn:

“As I read it that day, I seemed to be a 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 in the shadows. It was Mary. As she came to the tomb, upon which she placed her hand, she bent over to look in, and 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 say Jesus standing, so did I. I knew it was He. She knelt before Him, with arms outstretched and looking into His face cried “Rabboni!”

I awakened in full light, gripping the Bible, with muscles tense and nerves vibrating. Under the inspiration of this vision I wrote as quickly as the words could be formed the poem exactly as it has since appeared. That same evening I wrote the music.”

This hymn became popular when Homer Rodeheaver led singing for the Billy Sunday campaigns and used the hymn extensively. In addition to “In the Garden”, Austin Miles authored several other gospel songs, including “A New Name in Glory”, “Dwelling in Beulah Land,” and “If Jesus Goes With Me I’ll Go Anywhere.”

Taken from 101 Hymn Stories Copyright © 1982, 2012 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Taken from Then Sings My Soul by Robert J. Morgan Copyright © 2003 Robert J. Morgan. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson