5 August 2015

Post 244: 'IN THE UPPER GARDEN'


It's confusing but there are two lovely gospel numbers entitled In the Garden and In the Upper Garden and they are both played by traditional jazz bands. As far as I can tell - and by a strange coincidence - they were both composed in about 1912 by Charles Austin Miles.

My friends and I decided to add one of them to our repertoire. It is the one known as In The Upper Garden. Charles Austin Miles was born New Jersey in 1868; he died in 1946. After a short career as a pharmacist, Charles became a full-time composer and music-publisher, specialising in 'gospel' songs, of which he wrote several dozens.

The Verse begins with the words Just beyond the River Jordan and the Chorus with We shall meet them some bright morning.

Having listened to it on YouTube, I decided it went like this. I put it in F:
For Bb instruments such as mine, it transposes into G:
And (better still) I'm very grateful to Ron Flack in Australia who, since reading the above, has sent me his transcription (for Bb instrument, but with concert chords) of the George Lewis version:
And more recently still, Brian Hutchinson - also in Australia - kindly sent me photocopies of the sheet music.
In The Upper Garden has to be played at a slow tempo, with much caressing of the simple harmonies.

As for the other In The Garden hymn, it is beautiful too and is written in 3/4 time. This is indeed the time signature in which even jazz bands usually play it. But that may be a subject for another day. It begins with the words:
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.
(Chorus)
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.