Scripture Reading: Psalm 5:1-3, Matthew 26:36-46, John 10:25-30, Hebrews 10:19-25, James 4:8
C. Austin Miles was a pharmacist by trade, but the darkroom was home to his truer loves: photography and Bible-reading. He’d sit and read Scripture while waiting for film to develop, his well-worn Bible illuminated by the room’s familiar glow.
On such a day in March 1912, Miles began to process his photos, then opened his Bible to John chapter 20 as he waited. He’d read the passage before; it was one of his favorites. But this time, the scene seemed to come alive. He found himself imagining he was face to face with Jesus as He spoke to Mary near the empty garden tomb.
Of the experience Miles wrote, “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 appeared. That same evening I wrote the music.”
In addition to his photos, Miles had developed a reputation as a music director at conventions, churches, camp meetings, and the like. Not long before that March inspiration, a music publisher named Adam Geibel had asked Miles to compose a specific type of hymn—one that was sympathetic and tender, “one that would bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the weary, and downy pillows to dying beds.”14 With the Holy Spirit’s help, a “downy pillow” for the soul is just what he delivered.
We all come to the garden alone, but our suffering Savior meets us there. He tells us what is true: we are His own.
In the Garden
by C. Austin Miles
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
Tho’ the night around me be falling;
But He bids me go; thro’ the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.
Morgan, Robert J. Then Sings my Soul. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2011.
Osbeck, Kenneth W. 101 Hymn Stories: The Inspiring Stories Behind 101 Favorite Hymns. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2012.