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How Sweet Was the Garden, Fertile and Fair

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Scripture References

Further Reflections on Scripture References

The background for this reference, of course, is found in Genesis 2:8-3:1. The drama of sad disobedience is found in Genesis 3:2-19. The hope of God’s love that still embraces his creatures is represented in his actions in Genesis 3:9 and 15.

Confessions and Statements of Faith References

Further Reflections on Confessions and Statements of Faith References

This song speaks about the fall into sin and the resulting sinfulness of the human race. God’s people are called to be aware of the fall. Belgic Confession, Article 14 summarizes the fall and its impact with these words: “They subjected themselves willingly to sin and consequently to death and the curse...”


Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 3, Question and Answer 7 points out that “this fall has so poisoned our nature that we are all conceived and born in a sinful condition.” Yet, God’s people are also called to know about God’s grace, which is freely given, despite the depravity of the world. Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 14 claims that “we prove each day apart from grace that we are guilty sinners...”


How Sweet Was the Garden, Fertile and Fair

Additional Prayers

A Prayer of Confession and Regret
Loving God, you called us human beings into life, giving us all we needed to flourish under your care. But, then and now, we have spoiled your gifts. We keep thinking we know life better than you do. We are deeply sorry that our sin required a Savior. But we are deeply glad you have provided one in Jesus Christ, through whom we pray. Amen.
— Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

How Sweet Was the Garden, Fertile and Fair

Tune Information

d minor



How Sweet Was the Garden, Fertile and Fair

Hymn Story/Background

Carl Daw wrote this hymn as a lament for the loss of Eden, basing his text on Genesis 2:8-15 (see also Genesis 1:26-30) for st. 1 and Genesis 2:16-17, 3:1-19 for st. 2. In st. 3, Daw wrote of how “God’s judgment is always tempered with mercy.” He originally wrote the text to fit an old psalm tune, OLD 104th, that he said “offered a blend of grandeur and pathos beginning the subject.” But when learning of Rusty Edward’s tune LONG ISLAND SOUND, Daw suggested this tune as well for “How Sweet Was the Garden.” Both tunes were included in Daw’s collection New Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs (Hope, 1996).
Rusty Edwards originally composed LONG ISLAND SOUND as a setting for a lament text by Fred Kaan entitled “We Utter Our Cry.” The tune name refers to the body of water near where Rusty Edwards composed it. 
— Emily Brink

Author Information

Carl P. Daw, Jr. (b. Louisville, KY, 1944) is the son of a Baptist minister. He holds a PhD degree in English (University of Virginia) and taught English from 1970-1979 at the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. As an Episcopal priest (MDiv, 1981, University of the South, Sewanee, Tennesee) he served several congregations in Virginia, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. From 1996-2009 he served as the Executive Director of The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada. Carl Daw began to write hymns as a consultant member of the Text committee for The Hymnal 1982, and his many texts often appeared first in several small collections, including A Year of Grace: Hymns for the Church Year (1990); To Sing God’s Praise (1992), New Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1996), Gathered for Worship (2006). Other publications include A Hymntune Psalter (2 volumes, 1988-1989) and Breaking the Word: Essays on the Liturgical Dimensions of Preaching (1994, for which he served as editor and contributed two essays. In 2002 a collection of 25 of his hymns in Japanese was published by the United Church of Christ in Japan. His current project is preparing a companion volume to Glory to God, the 2013 hymnal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).  
— Emily Brink

Composer Information

Rusty Edwards (b. Dixon, Illinois, January 22, 1955) was ordained in 1985. He was Assistant/Associate Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Moline, Illinois from 1985 to 1991. He was Senior Pastor of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Rockford, Illinois from 1991-1998, during which time he co-founded Luther Academy at Gloria Dei (LCMS-ELCA K-6 School.) He has been Senior Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church from 1998 to the present. He was Volunteer Manager of the 2003 ELCA Youth Gathering at Atlanta.

He received an M. Div. from Luther Seminary at St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1985, and a D. Min. from Graduate Theological Foundation at Notre Dame, Indiana, in 1990. He also holds certificates from Blackstone School of Law at Dallas,Texas, Seminary of the Southwest at Austin, Texas, and Pecos Benedictine School of Spiritual Direction in New Mexico. He was an Oxford Foundation Fellow (U.K.) in 1998, and Visiting Fellow of Seminary of the Southwest in 2004.

Edwards' hymn collections are: The Yes of the Heart with a foreword by Chick Corea, Grateful Praise (Selah), As Sunshine to a GardenEach Breath Every Heartbeat, andBidden Unbidden.
He has 15 ASCAP Awards, 2 RAMI Awards (with The Pitneys), and recorded a Grammy nominated CD with The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Robert Shaw.

He is a Kentucky Colonel and an Honorary Citizen of Austin, Texas. Tyler Texas held a "Rusty Edwards Hymnwriter Day" in 2009.
— Selah Publishing Co. (
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