In honor of Easter, I wanted to share some of the songs that reflect my understanding of the cross and the price at which my life was purchased so many years ago. As I started looking, however, I realized that so many of my favorites were by one artist: Sara Groves.
Over the last 12 years, Groves has released 10 albums. There are few artists who compare in their abilities to write creatively, challenge the integrity of my heart, and bring me face-to-face with the real person of Jesus Christ. Her songs challenge me to be a better follower of Jesus and, as a musician, she challenges me to be a better songwriter.
She’s hard to forget. I once saw her play live and she went up on stage, popped out her gum and placed it on the keyboard next to her before starting her set. She’s a normal person with regular struggles in faith, life, and love, but she’s one that I admire greatly in many ways. The result is that it’s hard to pick favorites because her music is just favorite. But I picked favorites.
And by “favorites,” I mean 15. There was no way around it, people. It would have been, like 50 if I hadn’t curbed myself to 15. I’ll keep these short and sweet.
If you haven’t ever listened to Sara Groves’ music, I suggest you start with these:
- (1) “The Word” – This was one of the first songs I ever heard by Groves. A timeless, catchy, beautiful song about Christ as the Word of God, rooted in Hebrews 13:8.
- (2) “Generations” – One of the most influential songs for my heart while I was finishing high school, as it reminded me of the fact that what I sowed in my life, generations would reap after me. Every high school kid needs to know he or she doesn’t exist in a vacuum – we are part of a great story, and our choices have consequences.
All Right Here (2002)
- (3) “Tornado” – A little different from most of her songs musically, this one’s a little more country and a little less piano ballad. Groves walks through experiences with people who cause chaos and who require forgiveness in this fun and heartfelt analogy-driven song.
- (4) “You Cannot Lose My Love” – A simple song about the constant nature of God’s love. We cannot lose it. Ever!
The Other Side of Something (2005)
- (5) “What I Thought I Wanted” – This first song began to resonate deeply in my heart when my heart was finally for the man that I eventually married. It’s a testament to God’s grace and sovereignty, even in the things we think might be too small for Him to notice.
Thoughts on the Song: “Reflections” (from 9/13/2005)
Add to the Beauty (2005)
- (6) “Kingdom Comes” – After Chris and I started dating, this was (I think) the first album by Groves that he heard. It flipped his thoughts about female singer/songwriters. This song, about laying aside comfort and personal desires for the sake of the kingdom, has been the basis of our hearts toward ministry and in our marriage. Bit by bit, the kingdom is certainly coming.
Thoughts on the Song: “Christmas” (from 12/25/2005)
- (7) “To The Moon” – A sweet and short bit of witticism on the state of the church today, which seems more than ready to head for the moon because no one understands us here. A call to remain exists in its well-conceived words, to fight the good fight and trust that God can take care of the details. We are meant to be set apart. Let us embrace and rejoice in what marks us!
- (8) “Why It Matters” – This stirring piano-driven song is about remembering why it matters that Christ came and died and rose again on behalf of our sins. Christ is the Light in the darkness, shining out hope and refuge in the darkest places. In Him we have “small ramparts for the soul,” and that is beautiful and meaningful.
Tell Me What You Know (2007)
- (9) “When the Saints” – Perhaps my all-time favorite (I know, right? I did just say that), and for good reason. Every time I hear this song, the hairs on my arms stand on end. A play on the song, “When the Saints Go Marching In,” Groves turns the song into a testament of God’s faithfulness to the saints through the years, from Paul and those in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11) to those still sold into slavery today. We are part of an incredibly big picture that God is weaving together, of faith and life, and the mercy that is offered to us that makes us stand up and know, “I want to be one of them.”
- (10) “It Might Be Hope” – Simple things catch my attention in captivating ways. They herald the provision and great goodness of Christ. This is a song about that, about finding hope in the littlest of places when life is hard.
O Holy Night (2008)
- (11) “It’s True (feat. Toby Groves)” – I am not ashamed to say that I listen to this Christmas song all year long. It’s beautiful and chilling all at the same time. The first several times I listened to it, I broke down in tears. It’s all true! God came down to save us! Hallelujah! (And it features Groves’ oldest son, Toby, which mostly just makes me cry more – so amazing.)
Fireflies & Songs (2009)
- (12) “Different Kinds of Happy” – This song keenly expressed the end game of my last battle with depression, when I finally let my dear husband walk with me through its conclusion. It is an incredible image of having everything out in the open with someone you trust to love you, regardless of what he might find in your depths. Good and life-giving reminders for my heart.
Thoughts on the Song: “A different kind of happy” (from 12/1/2010)
- (13) “Joy is in Our Hearts” – This song strikes such a good balance between understanding sorrow and understanding the promises of joy and peace that we have in Christ. A great reminder that Christ Himself is our joy and strength.
Invisible Empires (2011)
- (14) “Open My Eyes” – My recent favorite, I listen to this a lot because it is relevant to where I’ve found myself in life of late. God’s goodness and common grace are everywhere, and our circumstances do not negate that. I believe that He is who He says He is.
Thoughts on the Song: “Thursday Thoughts – Rain is No Measure” (from 1/26/2012)
- (15) “Precious Again” – One of the sweetest things I have known in the past few years is how God returns my heart to Him in simple ways. When life seems dry and I have no desire to seek Him, He makes it “precious again” to my heart, and I love this song for its expression of that promise I’ve found in Him.