Sarah Hart is back in 2020 with a new collection of liturgical tunes, Love as Never Before With the Mass of St. Mary Magdalene. The album is not just a collection of songs written with a common theme in mind, but rather a complete Mass setting, fully equipped with hymns, psalms and responsorials. This major undertaking places Hart in the company of the great composers of old, such as Mozart, Byrd, and Bach, who each made generous contributions to the liturgical songbook.
While the Mass setting is full of beautifully arranged music that we would love to hear in our own church, today we would like to highlight a new hymn that Hart included in the album, “The House that Love Is Building.” The tune explores themes of inclusivity in the universal Church through rich imagery and a simple yet memorable melody.
There are a lot of fantastic musical elements in this tune, from the jubilant chord progression to the excellent vocal work that Hart has put together by layering her own voice. In a solo performance, however, Hart put aside the accompaniment to show how great this song sounds with piano and voice alone., gives a great look at how a music director might make it sound during Mass.
As an added bonus, Hart also released an educational video in which she gives music directors some pointers on how best to play her new hymn. With a cheerful demeanor and a natural teaching style, Hart gives insight into her writing practices and encouragement to those who wish to learn her song. We especially liked that she noted that there was some Celtic influence in the work, which is clear to hear in the use of melodic lines that follow the notes of pentatonic scales.