So often the music and key of a song can greatly impact the words and meaning. After all, “the medium IS the message” and the WAY we communicate deeply influences WHAT we are trying to communicate.*
In thinking about preaching this year on Good Friday, the idea came to me to create a minor-keyed arrangement of the classic hymn “In the Garden (I come the Garden Alone).” This much beloved (and yet also critiqued as being over sentimental or potentially romantic**) hymn from C. Austin Miles was composed in 1912 and made it into our United Methodist Hymnals soon thereafter.
This re-arranging of this hymn text is heavily influenced by re-imagining the text as written about the Garden of Gethsemane (in Matthew 26:36-46) instead of the resurrection garden encounter (in John 20:11-18) and is also influenced by Black Liberation theologian James Cone‘s God of the Oppressed. Placing this hymn tune’s normal major progression in G C D into and Em Am Bm minor progression and adapting the melody leave it with a haunting, appropriate sense of what it means to sing about being with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane that fateful night just before his arrest and subsequent crucifixion. Here is a rough version of the chords written out.
*Media theorist and author Professor Marshall McLuhan, The Medium Is the Massage (New York: Bantam Books), 1967, 10.
**Choir master and hymnal editor Carlton R. Young, Companion to the United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville: Abingdon Press), 1993, 432-433.