I know there are various arguments regarding the old hymns vs. modern worship songs (and trust me, they are arguments), but I think both have their place, and in actuality, I can find examples from both groups that would satisfy the argument or criticisms from both sides, such as one is more energizing or scriptural or encouraging.
But that picture of us kids exploring the border of my grandparents’ hill property reminded me of one of my grandmother’s favorite hymns (if not her most)––“In the Garden.”
The story behind the song is that in 1912 composer and lyricist Austin Miles was asked 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.’” As inspiration, he chose the moment the risen Jesus met the stricken Mary in the garden. This is the simple song of hope he penned.
To me it brings home a recent devotional in my Experiencing God Day by Day. On March 5th, the author wrote, “Knowing God through experience is radically different than knowing about God from a theology textbook. According to the Bible, you cannot say you know God unless you have experienced Him (Philippians 3:8,10). Biblical knowledge always involves experience.” In other words, you must have personal experience with God to truly know him. I believe this hymn by Miles shows just how personal and one-on-one God is.
Though there are many versions of the hymn on the internet, I chose two: one by Brad Paisley and the other by Alan Jackson because these versions are solos (and this garden meeting is personal). Paisley sings verses 1 and 2, while Jackson sings verses 1 and 3. I hope you enjoy them, and if you are like me, you will be singing the chorus for quite some time afterwards, taking in the full import of the words.
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Blackaby, Henry T., and Richard. Experiencing God Day by Day. Kindle version.
Osbeck, Kenneth W., 101 Hymn Stories. Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, MI. 1982. page 124.