Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Theological Note on a Shoddy Hymn: "In the Garden"

Below are the lyrics from the hymn, "In the Garden:"

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
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.


Theological note:

In his article "Style or Substance?" John MacArthur notes the above hymn as an example of an older church song that is shallow in theology ["besides an oblique reference to 'the Son of God' in the last line of the first stanza, there’s no distinctly Christian content to that song at all"], that focuses on personal feelings, and that is not written by a pastor or theologian [C. Austin Miles, who wrote the hymn, was a pharmacist who abandoned his career in order to make money by writing hymns].

Now, the above hymn is certainly not heretical, and I would never cause a ruckus just because a congregation in which I was worshiping decided to sing it, but I would note that there are much better songs that capture the same depth of feeling, while conveying vital gospel truth [consider again, "The Love of God," which was written within a few years of "In the Garden"]. Isn't our time singing hymns in worship best employed by investing it in those hymns that most clearly communicate the great truths of who Jesus is and what He has done for us on the Cross, rather than just speaking of Him in terms that seem equally appropriate to describe the love between a girlfriend and boyfriend?


Blogger JoyNic said...

I believe the hymn "in The Garden" is a beautiful song speaking to millions of Christians about having a personal relationship with out Christ and Savior which I was taught that we should do.

7:11 AM  
Blogger steverdavis said...

Thomas O. Chisholm was an insurance salesman, and he wrote "Living for Jesus" and "Great is Thy Faithfulness," which are two of the most beloved hymns I know of. "Living for Jesus" speaks of offering one's life to Jesus as a living sacrifice. "Great is Thy Faithfulness" proclaims that goodness of God.

"In the Garden" is no "Jesus is My Boyfriend" song. I always pictured this as a song of Mary Magdalene meeting the risen Lord on Sunday morning in the Garden.

Now, "Jesus Hold Me Close" is the quintessential "Jesus is My Boyfriend" song.

1:37 PM  

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