#875 - "He's Always Been Faithful" by Sara Groves
Sara Groves revisits one of her foundational songs twenty years later.

Posted: November 21, 2017 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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I was a new believer when I became completely hooked hearing Sara Groves sing "The Word." Sara's albums have received well-deserved acclaim for her premier songwriting ability. Sixteen years ago, Sara's major label debut album Conversations led to her nomination for Best New Artist. She has followed up each album with her next "best" album. Her last album Floodplain was one of my top 10 albums of 2015. This year, Sara has returned with Abide With Me, a collection of hymns recorded in Sara's signature style at a 105 year old church converted into a studio, Art House in Minnesota.

"My last album found me on the Floodplain reflecting on the kind provision that comes when I find myself in a place where I cannot rescue myself," says Groves. "Abide With Me is a collection of hymns and songs that were with me on the Floodplain. A highlight for me was re-tracking 'He's Always Been Faithful' with piano, upright bass and woodwinds. My bandmates and I guesstimate that we have played that song well over 1,000 times, and these days it is loaded with the memories of 20 years of making music." I had the chance to speak with Sara about "He's Always Been Faithful."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

This is a full circle moment. Some of my first songs I wrote while I was still teaching, before I recorded. I remember with this song in particular, my husband Troy and I, through no fault of our own but life, had a pretty big financial mountain in front of us. I sat down to write a "sorrow about the world" kind of song. I remember my grandfather had recently passed at the time, and he had been a church planter. He was full of stories of him feeling like he was supposed to drive somewhere, then he did, and amazing things happened. There were those types of stories left and right. 

I have written many songs of lament over the years, but I felt like God was telling me to look through the snapshots of my life: "if you can find a situation where you've been left high and dry, you can write a song of woe at this point, or you can write a song of provision." I thought of "Great is Thy Faithfulness," which I had sung at my wedding, and it was sung at my grandfather's funeral, and I wrote this song. 

My deepest gratitude about this song is that I was able to write it and say it. I definitely orient from a place of fear. I am much afraid much of the time, and I am often in a place of worry. I feel grateful as this is the most resonant song I've been part of, and I got to write it before I saw that happen. I wrote the song, and it brought me peace in the moment, and within 48 hours the financial situation we were facing was miraculously resolved in a totally unexpected way.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

John 14:16 (NKJV): "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever."

Psalm 62:5 (NKJV): "My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him."

Hosea 6:3 (VOICE): "So let's know Him; let's strive to know the Eternal. As surely as the sun rises, He'll come out from His lair. As surely as the rains come each year--those spring rains that drench the earth--He'll come back to us."

Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV): "Through the Lord's mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness."

Matthew 11:29-30 (NKJV): "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."

1 Peter 5:6-7 (NIV): "Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you."

What is the takeaway message?

I have carried this song's message with me over the past 20 years of making music. I made my first album in 1997. I originally recorded this song in 1998. This time it was recorded at the Art House, where my husband and I have been on this adventure since 2011. We've been doing Art and Community, and this past summer we converted it into a recording studio and recorded this album of hymns. I knew I wanted to end the album with this song. 

I thought about doing a re-working of the song, but instead we recorded it like the first time: me at the piano, but this time with the culmination of 20 years of stories that now are connected to the song that people have shared with me. That first time it was just me saying "all I have need of, His hand will provide," and now to come to the verse 20 years later, "This is my anthem, this is my song, the theme of the stories I've heard for so long, God has been faithful, He will be again:" it was emotional and powerful for me to think about all of the stories I've heard about the song over the years. There's more life behind the song now, and it is a full circle moment. We did rough math that we've sung the song over 1,500 times over the years.

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me
Morning by morning I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season I watch Him, amazed
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me

I can't remember a trial or a pain
He did not recycle to bring me gain
I can't remember one single regret
In serving God only, and trusting His hand
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me

This is my anthem, this is my song
The theme of the stories I've heard for so long
God has been faithful, He will be again
His loving compassion, it knows no end
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful, He's always been faithful
He's always been faithful to me

This is truly a great album and a moving and prayerful listening experience, reflecting how we are bound together as believers in faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Sometimes we have a tendency to think we can try to know everything. God tells us in the Bible that with faith, we can do anything in Christ. One of the lessons I've seen about life is that we shouldn't wait to fix ourselves before we step out in faith. We need to fully trust God. 

Look for ways to obey God and to offer your faith to Him. Jesus promises us in Matthew 11:29-30 that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Jesus came to claim us and set us free from the burden of sin. This hymns album really engages me from start to finish in my own time of worship and reflection about the attributes of God. The beauty of grace is that it is not something we deserve or can earn, but it is a free gift from our great God. This song challenges me to want to know God more deeply, and to have more faith and security in my relationship with God. The whole song and album is about crying out for God's presence and desiring to know Him personally.

So many people can relate to the message of this great song, and the song convicts me to know in my heart the biblical truth from Jeremiah in Lamentations 3:22-23: God's mercy is new each day, and it is not based on our performance or what we can do for God. He pours out His mercy despite what we've done. There's nothing we can do except trust Him. Remember the gift of His grace: as followers of Jesus we are sinners saved, morning by morning. It is a great reminder of what's most important. The song is a daily reminder for me that "In serving God only and trusting His hand, all I have need of His hand will provide. He's always been faithful to me." Amen to that!

Listen to the song below. 


NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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