SANCTUS REAL: Being Real, Being Holy
Sanctus Real is: Matt Hammitt, vocals; Chris Rohman, guitar; Mark Graalman, drums; Dan Gartley, bass; and Pete Prevost, guitar. The band played this spring at the Assemblies of God headquarters in Springfield, Mo., during the final chapel service of this year’s Spiritual Emphasis Week.
They spoke afterwards with Scott Harrup, Pentecostal Evangel managing editor, and Amber Weigand-Buckley, managing editor of On Course.
evangel: One of your songs this morning was your 2006 release “The Face of Love.” How do you see the church living out Christ’s “face of love”?
MATT: I’ve seen a lot of response from the church to the earthquake in Haiti. I’ve been taken aback with the way people not only are speaking out to be advocates for the people of Haiti, but all the people who have actually gone there. People have different gifts, even photographers and video folks in the church who take pictures to make people aware of the problems. So you can even look at a gift like that and the way people are using their talents to serve those who are in need. So many organizations are stepping up to the plate, and I think more and more people, the Church, have been reacting more and more to those who are in need. It’s really been amazing to see the Church in action.
MARK: It seems like when these kinds of situations arise, we’re seeing more and more of the church responding. For example, we work with one organization where people can give up a few dollars they would normally pay for coffee and bring relief in Africa to overcome what’s happened there with genocide and AIDS. The list goes on and on with ministries that are stepping up to crisis situations, and that’s just awesome to see.
evangel: Talk about what the name Sanctus Real means.
MATT: In 1996, Chris and I started playing in our chapel services at our Christian high school. We wanted to start a band and play at different youth groups and churches on the weekends. We met Mark who, at 18, was the “old guy” in the group, so we let him name the band. Sanctus means holy, hymn of praise, set apart — a lot of different definitions. We want to be a hymn of praise; we want to be set apart. The “Real” is just about transparency, honesty, and doing our best to live a life that pleases the Lord and, in our weakness, allowing God to make us strong.
MARK: I remember I was trying to find something else, actually, in the dictionary, and I just came across the word Sanctus and discovered it’s a hymn of praise they sing at the end of a liturgy. I thought that was so cool; it’s a hymn of praise they sing to God. Funny thing is, it’s almost 14 years later and nobody can ever pronounce the band name.
evangel: Talk about your current project, Pieces of a Real Heart.
MATT: We chose that title to express the deepest parts of who we are individually and as a band. There are some really great songs on there about forgiveness and redemption and life and struggle. It’s so important for us to peel back the layers or take down the walls or whatever else stands in the way of people feeling connected as a church body.
“The Redeemer” is a song I feel encapsulates the heart of the album. It’s about all the different dreams and plans we make for ourselves or we feel God calling us to throughout life. Some of those dreams and visions kind of crumble away, and we wonder why they never happened and why some of our longings are never fulfilled in this life. But no matter how broken we see our lives as being, Jesus Christ can take all those pieces of who we are and He can make everything new. We can always believe and have faith in what Christ is going to do in our lives with all those pieces.
evangel: What might you say, one on one, to a fan to offer encouragement?
CHRIS: We meet all sorts of people on the road, and sometimes you don’t really get too deep with people. They just come through the line at the end of the show and say “Hey, thanks for the music; thanks for the show.” But other people really do want to share the story of how a song has affected their life. I’m always encouraged by that.
I would be quick to share what God has done in my life through this band and how He brought us together. Many times things didn’t make sense to us, and we were tempted to give up. Those feelings are completely normal. There’s stuff that comes along the course of life that’ll make you doubt and maybe feel like you’re not cut out for whatever it is you’re doing. Through everything we’ve been through as a band, He’s been faithful to really keep this thing together. It was none of our plans. Throughout all these years, God has had His hand on us.
evangel: Any final thoughts?
MATT: Visit SanctusReal.com for more about what’s going on with us or the music. Or follow us on Twitter at Sanctus_Real.