NRT contributor Kevin Davis speaks with Sanctus Real's Matt Hammitt about their new single, "Forgiven," from their latest release, Pieces Of A Real Heart.
Popularly known for its captivating recordings and live performances, Toledo, Ohio-based Sanctus Real’s breakthrough album, The Face of Love, released in April 2006, landing at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Heetseekers chart and amassed a string of radio hits including the No. 1 songs “I’m Not Alright” and “Don’t Give Up.” While The Face of Love was inspired by real-life heartache and rediscovered joy, the band’s fourth studio release, We Need Each Other, marked a completion of that healing process and is a call for unity.
Award-winning band Sanctus Real gave fans an early preview of its upcoming, fifth studio album Pieces of A Real Heart with its brand new song, “Forgiven,” which has already been a Top 10 hit at radio.
“Sometimes, we need to be reminded of how awesome God’s forgiveness truly is and who we are in Him,” adds Joe Buchanan, New Life Media Network music director. “Sanctus Real has done a phenomenal job doing just that with their great new song, ‘Forgiven.’ It’s already impacting our listeners in a huge way!”
That impact is also being felt on the band’s website, www.SanctusReal.com. Sanctus Real is streaming the song on its site and asking listeners to share their own stories of forgiveness. Numerous responses from all around the world have already poured in as people share stories of forgiveness, hope and redemption.
I got the chance to interview Matt Hammitt about “Forgiven.”
Please tell me the personal story behind writing this song.
The song came out of my insecurities as an artist. I was putting a lot of stock in who I was and what I was doing and not enough focus on Christ, and that's when the guys in the band encouraged me to put all of my hope and trust in God. His strength can be found in our weaknesses and our failures. The working-out of forgiveness is so key to our growth and maturity as followers of Jesus. The very idea that we have been forgiven for so many wrong moves, can reform, transform and heal us. As we were framing "Forgiven" around this concept, we realized that this was such a fundamental aim for all of us--to forgive and be forgiven.
What do you consider to be the take-away message for listeners?
Accepting forgiveness and applying it in our lives is powerful. I had underestimated the power of forgiveness. When we started a feedback section at our web site, I expected people to write, “God is good; I’m forgiven.” Instead, people began confessing their deepest, darkest secrets on the site and sending letters to people they needed forgiveness from or needed to forgive. It’s amazing to see how God can use my own insignificant insecurities, failures and fears to spark a song that ministers to so many others who need forgiveness. Praise God that we are forgiven!
Please tell me about any Scripture verses that you used to write the song.
Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message): "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
It seems like the concept of this song and album goes with the name of the band.
Totally. The band's name comes from the word Sanctus, which in Latin means “to be Holy.” We were in high school at the time we named the band and didn’t know how to pronounce the word. So we looked it up in the dictionary, then added the word Real and became Sanctus Real. We view that our mission is to bring hymns of praise, be “real” and put forth who we really are--not rock stars or entertainers--but real people with transparency. We are husbands, fathers and fellow believers making music for God.
Well the past is playing with my head
And failure knocks me down again
I’m reminded of the wrong
That I have said and done
And that devil just won’t let me forget
In this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in Your arms
I know what I am
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
Cause I’m forgiven
My mistakes are running through my mind
And I’ll relive my days, in the middle of the night
When I wrestle with my pain, struggle with my pride
Sometimes I feel alone, and I cry
Pre Chorus / Chorus:
When I don't fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere
When I don’t measure up to much in this life
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ ‘cause
This song truly touches me in many ways. I know that many of us struggle with the idea that our past and present mistakes are unforgivable, yet the bible tells us that isn’t true. Read that great translation in The Message of Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus tells us: “Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest.” What an amazing comfort to know that when we struggle with our pain, pride and unloving natures, we can all lay it at the feet of Jesus. As we get ready for Easter, this is a great song to sing to our Lord and Savior as a personal prayer of thanks and praise.
Kevin Davis is a long time fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. Kevin also writes reviews for ChristianMusicReview.org. He currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
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