Sanctus Real has consistently brought audiences closer to God through music since 2002, and continue to do so with their new song, "Lay It Down," off their album The Dream (September 16, 2014). "When we started writing this album," says lead singer Matt Hammitt, "it was coming off a couple of years that were incredibly challenging. [I was] personally and internally going through chaos inside of me. In all of that I really reached a point where I felt lower than I've ever been." After crying out to God to come through and speak into his life, Hammitt declares, "God showed up, and he touched my heart, and he made me feel new again."
"Lay It Down," follows the song "Pray," off their album Run (February 5, 2013), speaking of the importance of prayer. "We wrote the song 'Pray' because these are anxious times. Sometimes it’s not world news that leaves me anxious, but parts of my own little world that seem to be falling apart," lead singer Matt Hammitt explains. "The pressure of holding it all together is daunting when I get to thinking it’s on my own shoulders. Sometimes I find myself tossing my hands up in the air and asking in an exasperated tone, 'What in the world is going on?'''
He continues, "In those moments I have to remind myself in every conflict, no matter where we live or which side we’re on, behind every struggle is what the Apostle Paul described in his letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6:12). Paul doesn’t leave us to wonder how we should view our struggles or what actions we should take. He tells the Ephesians to stand firm on truth, righteousness, salvation and the word of God. He teaches them, and us, to pray; and not just every so often or when we’re in distress, but to pray at all times. These are indeed anxious times, and heaven and earth are at war. Every public headline and personal challenge is a reminder, as well as a call, not to lift our hands in despair, but rather to continue lifting our hands and voices in prayer."
The journey of Sanctus Real began almost a decade ago while Matt was in high school and he met guitarist Chris Rohman in their sophomore year at Toledo Christian School in Ohio. After leading youth worship together, they eventually started collaborating on their own material, and a partnership was born.
Not long after drummer Mark Graalman and bassist Steve Goodrum joined the fun, and the band started recording music together in a nearby garage. Because funds were hard to come by for making albums, Matt and Steve were forced to work telemarketing gigs by day to pay for the sessions.
After signing with Sparrow Records, the band released its debut album, Say It Loud in 2002. It was followed by the band's first official #1 hit, a cover of U2’s “Beautiful Day” from the compilation project, In the Name of Love: Artists United for Africa (2004). From that point on, the band has consistently released new records like clockwork every two years, and rolled out compelling songs such as "The Face of Love," "Whatever You're Doing," "Forgiven," and "Lead Me" (official video), off the album Pieces of a Real Heart (March 5, 2010).
"All the songs we write are about the deepest parts of our being and things that we’re thinking, and things that we’re living through,” Matt shares. “We start thinking about all the different pieces of our lives, and it came to us that these songs are pieces of our real heart—the things we’re going through and the things we want to communicate to people as we get better at communicating our hearts.”
Matt has candidly shared some of his own personal hardships these last few years, after his son Bowen- who was born on September 9, 2010- was diagnosed with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a condition in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped. This prompted Matt and his wife to start the non-profit organization Whole Hearts Foundation.
Ironically, a month after the band released the album Pieces of a Real Heart, Matt found out about his son's health condition, "The crazy thing about the album really is that it came out on March 9, 2010, and it had all the songs about heart on it. Then, a month later, my wife and I found out that our son, Bowen, only had half a heart," Matt explains. "So, God's been really working a lot of little miracles in the midst of a hard personal time for me and showing me that He's been there, through it all. Undoubtedly He's planned a rhythmic story that we're honored to be able to walk in."