Sarah Hart [This Winter's Eve] | Posted November 03, 2011 Staff Reviewer
I am a major fan of singer-songwriters like Sara Groves, JJ Heller and Christa Wells who released three of my top albums this year, all pouring their hearts into gorgeous songs revealing how Christ is part of each aspect of our lives as believers. Last year, Amy Grant’s “Better Than A Hallelujah” and Audrey Assad’s “Restless” were two of my favorite songs in that style. After learning that the main songwriter of those amazing songs is Sarah Hart, I sought out to hear more music by her. Sarah is an incredible songwriter whose lyrics immediately connect with me. I was thrilled to learn that she had recorded her own songs for a brand new Christmas album called This Winter’s Eve available on November 8th.
Opening song “Prayer For This House” is a contemplative piano based offering to our Creator, with Sarah’s sweet and soothing vocals crying out in the chorus, “Peace shall softly walk these rooms, and though the walls are thin, they are strong enough to keep hatred out and hold sweet love, hold sweet love within.” The song opens and ends with the prayerful and poetic lyrics “May nothing evil cross this door, and may ill fortune never pry, about these windows may the roar and rains go by.” Sarah’s singing voice reminds me of Leigh Nash and I hang on every word of these catchy and original Christmas songs. “On A Night Like This” is my favorite song on the album. It has a banjo intro and super-hooky melody and I love the prayerful tone of the song. The chorus comes right from Luke’s Gospel account of the skies opening and the angels singing “Gloria.” Throughout the song Sarah acknowledges the true wonder of Christ’s incarnation as she reflects “Jesus, come and be born in the heart of me, and let me be your manger, let us be your manger.” Amen to that! The album is loaded with that type of profound response to this most blessed season. “This Winter’s Eve” has another lyrical phrase that stops me in my tracks, “Heaven above to this earth below, fall on me, be still my heart, and listen on this winter’s eve, hear the song, the silence sings, oh listen on this winter’s eve.” What a wonderful reminder during the hustle and bustle of Christmas to take time and be still and reflect on the miracle of Christ’s condescension.
Even the two traditional songs include some incredible original adaptations, as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “What Love Has Done (Joy To The World)” each have new lyrics seamlessly infused with the original and profound words and Amy Grant’s signature background vocals can be heard during the “Joy to the world” chorus. I truly enjoy the ballads “Let It Be So” and “All Is Well.” Each song includes humble and obedient reflections of God’s majesty. As Mary responded to God’s plan for her life, these songs compel me to also reflect on how I’m answering God’s call and proclaiming to Him, “let it be so.” “Peace Be” and “Snow Angels” are wonderful songs about seizing those precious moments that God gives us to feel His presence and appreciate His gift of peace and the beauty of His Creation. “Bethlehem” is a tribute to Sarah’s husband as she prays over her family “follow the Light that leads us to love, in the dark light we remember where Love comes from.” Closing song “Epiphany (I Will Not Forget)” book-ends this flawless five star album with another personal prayer with closing lyrics that sum up the entire offering, “I will not forget You love, and how You saved us all one night.” Amen.
For sure, this is a Christmas album that you don’t want to miss, especially if you like Amy Grant’s best-selling series of Christmas albums. Everything that works about Amy’s Home For Christmas is in full effect on Sarah Hart’s This Winter’s Eve, including a guest background vocal by Amy Grant. This is my top Christmas album of the year. This album blesses and soothes my soul and is a beautiful offering of praise to our King.