Joy of Every Longing Heart
(Fair Trade Services)
Sarah Groves returns with a second Christmas collection, following her excellent 2008 release O Holy Night. What might look like a list of traditional and modern Christmas favorites and a few originals is actually a journey of perspectives, highlighting the varied audiences of the incarnation.
Non-traditional arrangements of familiar carols like “O Come O Come Emanuel” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” liven the tunes, and a personalized lyric added to “Winter Wonderland” serves as homage to Groves’ Minnesota home.
Groves is in excellent form. A lovely piano backs “Angels from the Realms of Glory,” and the inclusion of the rarely-heard third verse fits the album’s theme of longing. It’s a theme that’s remarkably well-realized, particularly in the original “We Wait.”
Another original, “Just Like They Said,” is a standout. It’s the narrative of a shepherd who witnessed the newborn King and now contemplates how to share what he can barely fathom himself, thinking, “No one believes me, but I know what I saw. It was just like they said it would be.” The first-person eyewitness jars modern listeners from the trappings of the holiday and grounds them in its origin.