Sara Groves’ “O Holy Night” Review


Sara Groves’ Latest Release:
“O Holy Night” – Released 10/28/2008

Available now on iTunes

I always love a good Sara Groves album, so I was excited to hear that she had a new Christmas album releasing called, “Oh Holy Night”. As I expected, the album was full of great songs that I will definitely be giving some play time this Holiday season. Only one out of twelve merits hitting “skip” on your player when it starts. Not a bad ratio.

If you love an album full of classic Christmas songs that are just a new singer with the same old melodies and arrangements, then this album is not for you.Sara injects plenty of originality into the songs on the album that are usually considered classics.Some that are great, and a couple that are just okay.Her original songs are beautiful and, as expected, very well written.Her lyrics never fail to move my soul to worship.

The Songs:

1) Star Of Wonder – This introduction is a beautiful adaptation of “We Three Kings” that is focused on the star’s guidance.

2) It’s True (featuring Toby Groves) – Kids talking in songs is usually quite creepy, however Toby reads an adaptation of the Christmas story that is sweet and totally non-creepy. The song proclaims the truth of the birth story of Jesus that we hear through stories and plays at Christmas time. The piano melodies are beautiful and the vocals are sweet, raw, and moving.

3) It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – An atypical melody to a classic Christmas carol. It’s not bad, but not it’s not great either.

4) Oh Holy Night – This song contains another melody that has been changed from the original. It’s new melody is not quite as powerful as the original one, but it is an honest interpretation from Sara’s style and perspective. I do love the personalization of the song’s bridge “My soul felt it’s worth”. That really helps the new version of the song capture your heart.

5) To Be With You – This is an original song about a modern Christmas experience with loved ones. It is a very moving and emotional song that brings back personal memories of my own past Christmases. It really takes me back and makes me miss family members that have passed on. Keep a Kleenex handy for this one.

6) Angels We Have Heard On High – Sara takes another classic Christmas tune and gives it an original melody. This is definitely my least favorite song on this album –  I always find myself hitting ‘skip’ on iTunes. It’s very country/mariachi sounding (is that possible)? It has way too much twang for my liking. The horns throughout and especially during the reprise at the end kill this one for me. If you’re a fan of horns, maybe you’ll like it more than I did!

7) Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas –This song starts traditionally and moves into some original sounds that make it feel more like an original Sara Groves piece. Musical arrangement sounds a little “old school” to me, but I still enjoy the song. The original bits bring freshness to an old familiar tune.

8 ) Toy Packaging –This is a hilarious little number about the frustrations of opening toys at Christmas. It has an extremely catchy melody and lyric. Be careful, this one will be stuck in your head for weeks after Christmas is over!

9) Peace Peace – This is my favorite song on this album, hands down. It’s a signature Sara Groves tune, beautifully written and equally as moving. The song has beautiful truths and encouraging lyrics that remind you “All your hopes and fears are met in Him tonight”.

10) A Cradle In Bethlehem – Here Sara gives us an original Christmas “lullaby”. The vocals are sweet and the melody is soft. This is definitely a relaxing song; so don’t listen if you’re sleepy!

11) Silent Night – This time around Sara keeps the melody of the original song intact – mostly, anyway. The arrangement, however, is far from original. Heavy lows in the music bring a powerful feel to the song. I love the original tag at the end, though it’s quite long. Another signature Sara Groves moment to finish out a classic.

12) Go Tell It On The Mountain – The album ends with a simple a capella ending chorus. It is reminiscent of a family sing-along gathered around the fire, or some classic door to door caroling.

Overall, it’s a great album.  One I may consider carrying over into the new year because – let’s face it – Christmas songs are still true and good come the middle of July!