One of my all time favorite movie scenes, comes at the end of Places in the heart, which starred Sally Field and Danny Glover. The towns people who had antagonized each other throughout the film, are now sitting in church together, passing the communion trays as the choir sings the hymn, In the Garden.
In spite of segregation, and racially motivated chaos throughout the movie, blacks and whites sit by side on church pews. Together they partake of the Lord’s supper, wishing each other the “peace of God”, as the well loved hymn is being sung.
The lyrics and melody to In the garden, were penned by Charles Austin Miles in March 1912. Miles said he had a vision of Mary Magdalene viewing the empty tomb, and her encounter in the garden with Jesus, as recorded in John 20:15-16, NIV.
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher)”
Not all hymn books or Internet sites contain the entire song. Often the final line which begins; I’d stay in the garden with Him, is omitted. Here is the song with all verses:
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.
Refrain: 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.
In the Garden was sung often, in the Baptist church where I attended until adulthood. My grandmother was very active in church and attended ever Sunday. Her mother, my great grandmother only went to services on special occasions such as Easter, Mothers day or when my brothers and I were in a play. Even so, I often heard great grandma talking to the Lord and singing hymns as she went about her day.
In the garden was one she sung quite a bit.Often I now find myself humming or singing favorite hymns, and I realize that what my great grandmother did in front of me more than 40 years ago, is now a part of my own life.
The garden song as written by C Austin Miles, speaks of dew on the roses. The bible does not disclose what type of garden Mary found Jesus in. I would presume, that the tomb was not in a location where farmers were growing vegetables.
I recall in growing up, that near our little white church there rocky hillsides with rose bushes, wild flowers and cactus plants, which we called devil tongues. Therefore in my opinion, a tomb carved out of a rocky hillside surrounded by a flower garden sounds plausible.
In the garden can be an inspiration for believers to find their own garden solace, a secret place to walk and talk with the Lord. I know ministers, who based on this song say they have found garden spots, hillsides and fields to walk in alone except for the presence of the Lord.
The song, as sung in Places in the Heart, should also encourage believers to come together on one accord and forget about the issues that divide, and focus on the ties that bind us in Christian love, and the peace of God.