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In the Garden

This is one of the most famous, and most performed Christian hymns.  It has been covered by performers as diverse as Elvis Presley and Mahalia Jackson.  There is no special story associated with its creation, though.  Charles Austin Miles was a professional hymn writer, and the garden in the song was non-existent.  In fact, his grandson states that the song was composed in a New Jersey basement that lacked even a window to look out of, much less a garden to look at or walk in.  Nevertheless, this sentimental hymn has inspired millions of Christians around the world.

There are several good guitar versions available for free on You Tube.  I especially like the one by Austin Parker, found HERE.  (You may have to adjust the volume, if the link opens up muted.)  He plays it in D, and in a totally different style.  I’ve invited him to submit a tab as a guest composer, so far without response.  If he does, I’ll publish it, as I like his version better than my own.  Until then, I guess I’ll have to make do with my own version of this public domain song.

I like to play the first verse by strumming the chords with my thumb, then pinch the chords for the second verse, for variety, but I strum the choruses, slowing for emphasis as prompted by the Spirit.  There are only a few spots that need specific instructions.

The hammer-ons and pull-offs in measures [3], [5] and [7] are done with the pinkie.  Do the hammer-on in [9] with the index finger.  This allows you to hold the chord while accomplishing the ligado.  The G13 chord in [10] is just a normal G7, with the D on the 2nd string added with the pinkie.  Do the slide in [11] with the middle finger.  The C9 in [12] is formed exactly like the G13 chord in [10], by adding the D on the 2nd string with the pinkie.  Do the slide in [19] with either the ring or middle finger, whichever is easier for you.

Either way, you’re going to have to hustle to get back to the GIII in [20].  It would be much easier to go to a normal G, or even a G7 (with the first string muted), but then the transition to the G7III in [22] would be much harder. 

The second string riff in [23] needs to be played fluidly, with the pinkie, making sure that each note gets a full count.  This is a bit slow and deliberate for slides and pull-offs, but sounds really great. 

If you are only planning to play the song through one time, skip measures [27] - [33].  If you are planning to play two or more verses, play these measures, reverting to measure [2] each time at the beginning of the next verse.  Only the last time should you substitute measures [34] - [40].

Be careful in counting measures [32] and [33].  The notes in [32] are eighth notes, and there are six of them to the measure.  The notes in [33] are quarter notes, so each is held twice as long as those in the previous measure.

Measure [35] is played exactly like [28], except, you may wish to slide up to the 5th fret for the FV chord in the next measure, instead of simply changing to it, as shown in the tab.  Use the middle finger for the slide from the 5th fret to the 10th.  Do the hammer-on in [38] with the ring finger.  This helps position the index finger to fret the D in the 7th space, third string.  You’ll have to move your hand quickly to reach the F/C chord that begins measure [39].  You may find a different fingering better suited to these last five measures.  This one seems to be the best to me, but there’s no way to play it that makes all the transitions easy.

Many people don’t realize it, but there are actually three verses to this hymn.  Here are the complete lyrics:

1. 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.

2.  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.


3.  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.