IN THE GARDEN
“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
It was in 1912 that music publisher Dr. Adam Geibel (No. 86) 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."
In George W. Sanville's book. Forty Gospel Hymn Stories, Miles has left the following account of the writing of this hymn:
“One day in March, 1912,1 was seated in the dark room, where I kept my photographic equipment and organ. I drew my Bible toward me; it opened at my favorite chapter, John 20-whether by chance or inspiration let each reader decide. That meeting of Jesus and Mary had lost none of its power to charm.
As I read it that day, I seemed to be part of the scene. I became a silent witness to that dramatic moment in Mary's life, when she knelt before her Lord, and cried, "Rabboni!"
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 into 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 saw 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.”
Next to "The Old Rugged Cross" (No. 92), this hymn has been one of the most popular gospel hymns ever written, beginning with the days when Homer Rodeheaver led singing for the great Billy Sunday campaigns and used the hymn extensively.
Taken from 101 Hymn Stories © Copyright 1982 by Kenneth W. Osbeck. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.