(To learn how to play “In The Garden”, watch the video at the bottom of this page or download the free sheet music from the menu above.)
In The Garden was written by Charles Austin Miles in 1913 and is in the public domain. (Also known as “I Come To The Garden Alone.)
For a quick idea of a gospel hymn’s popularity, try a google search for the writer, the date the song was written, or the story behind the song. “In The Garden” has got to be in the gospel all-time top 40. Website after website, you can find the lyrics, the music, the history… all the backstory I usually like to write about has been done, done, and redone.
For the sake of a quick info bite, Charles was born 1868, and passed away in 1946. In that time he was a pharmacist, an amateur photographer, and a mildly prolific hymn writer. He wound up spending 37 years working for the publisher who first printed “In The Garden.” (The Hall-Mack Co.) In the garden was inspired by an intense vision of Mary Magdalene meeting Jesus shortly after he rose.
I don’t mean any disrespect by keeping it short; quite the opposite. The info is here for those who just want the gist of the story, but other people have already done their own research and hard work. And a number of those have already shared that work on their website. Rather than be one voice repeating someone else’s already-repeated work, I strongly recommend you google C. Austin Miles. He makes for interesting reading.
As for my own perspective, this lovely song was certainly an integral part of growing up Southern Baptist. Speaking as someone who plays by ear in a fairly distinctive style, I’ve always had trouble playing songs with three beats. Four beats gives a comfortable rhythm, and matches the sounds in my mind. Three always feel odd. So most of my life has been spent ‘not playing’ many lovely tunes, or else converting them to my own style.
In the case of “In The Garden”, I tried to do both. Start off with how it sounds in my head… (scary thought, yes) but out of respect, play the last verse more traditionally. Not my strong suite, but it solved the dilemma of how I should play. Some for comfort, and some for respect. Hopefully it’s a compromise that you’ll enjoy.