- All of Me
- Holding You
- Let Go
- You Are My Treasure
- Without You
- Let It Bring You Praise
- Little Light
- I Couldn’t Love You More
- This is Grace
Matt Hammitt, lead singer of Sanctus Real, has had an emotional journey of late. In September 2010, Matt and Sarah’s son, Bowen, was born with a rare ‘present at birth’ heart deficiency called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), where the left side of the heart doesn’t develop fully. With many open heart surgeries and many CPR revivals, Bowen continues to have his share of hospital stays. Out of his son’s experience, Matt decided to write songs about his tough ordeal, and how the Lord was and still is faithful in spite of the circumstances that surround them; leading to his full solo debut album, Every Falling Tear. With a portion of the proceeds from the album transferring into Matt’s not for profit fundraiser, ‘Whole Hearts Foundation’, which aims to bring hope to families in similar situations as his son; this is an album that caught me by surprise, with it’s honest vulnerability, but also for it’s simultaneous struggle of feeling the pain of his son’s circumstances, yet knowing the hope there is when you place your trust in Christ. This is an album similar to Steven Curtis Chapman’s Beauty Will Rise; as you listen, you will certainly feel what Matt feels; hurt, pain and confusion, together with assurance that God has everyone in the palm of His hand.
‘All of Me’ is the first single of the album, and is one of my favourites. Singing from a place of brokenness, Matt acknowledges his very fears of a father; that his child may die before him. There is a sense of urgency from Matt in each song, this one in particular, with every note in every melody sung with a true purpose, to reassure his son that no matter what happens, he will be willing to give ‘…all of me, cause you’re worth every falling tear, you’re worth facing any fear…’ The musical aspect reflects the mood of the song, with strings and piano in the first verse and chorus. As the song progresses and the strings and piano are replaced in the foreground by guitars and drums, there is a shift from hopeless to hopeful, as Matt sings with authority ‘…heaven brought you to this moment, it’s too wonderful to speak, you’re worth all of me…’ Once we understand his life’s journey with regard to his motivation behind this album, ‘All of Me’ in particular; we are able to appreciate the lyrical content just a bit more; and as Matt himself describes it, ‘…He wants to use the darkness of human circumstances to redeem us with His light. He wants to use those moments in our lives to work through us and reveal Himself…’ God doesn’t cause the troubles that we face, yet He knows full well that it is out of these troubles that we come towards God without any agendas, placing our full faith and trust into God’s hands. What a fantastic song for first single! Well done, Matt!
‘Holding You’, ‘Trust’, ‘You Are My Treasure’ and ‘Let It Bring You Praise’ continue from where ‘All of Me’ left off, further progressing Matt’s honest cries and hopeful prayers and praises to the God of creation. Through listening to each of these songs, I am amazed at how the music follows Matt’s vocals and how the mood that the song wants to create is expressed creatively by the music used in each of the songs. ‘Holding You’ is a personal prayer, recounting the events surrounding his son’s birth and as Matt cries out ‘…mother in a waiting room, wondering if she’ll hold him soon, in the darkness searching for some light…’ we feel his pain of knowing his son’s situation and trusting in a God who knows what he is doing. Strings are again prominent in this song, and are a musical highlight. The tag at the end, ‘…you are safe in the arms of the Father…’ is a reassurance for his son that the Lord is with him always; but also comforts us, knowing that no matter what happens in our lives, we can always run to the Father. ‘Trust’ is a piano driven acoustic track, revealing Matt’s heart to trust God in spite of his circumstances. This is our prayer as well, that we’re ‘…walking through the dark, [we]…won’t forget how good You are…’ A simple and honest track about placing our faith in God even when we don’t know what is around the corner, Matt’s honest emotions convicts us to admire his stance, that his faith in God isn’t dependant on circumstances but rather on who He is.
Co-written with Jason Ingram, ‘Let it Bring You Praise’ is one of my favourite songs on the album, with similar themes to Psalm 139. It is with the full knowledge that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that we can come to God, praising him for the wonderful masterpiece which is our existence. With a simple musical arrangement full of drums, piano and soft acoustic guitars, this track can bring out emotions within people that they didn’t know they had. A vulnerability is shown when Matt proclaims ‘…this life is Yours to give so with each new day, let every breathe that I take…bring You praise…’, and we realise that the God who gives us breath is the same God who longs to be involved in our lives, wooing us closer to Him in relationship. ‘You Are My Treasure’ is a song of promises and assurances, laid across strong drum beats and guitar riffs. Matt honestly lays out his declarations in song, that ‘…when sickness and death are at my door, trying to steal from me, they cannot take what I’ve already laid down at Jesus feet…’ What a fantastic revelation for a song that allows the listener to delve into worship, singing out ‘…you are my treasure…all my hope is you…’ Well done Matt!
Through the rest of Every Falling Tear, themes like letting go of control and leaving every problem, worry and concern in God’s hands (‘Let Go’), realising that God’s gives unending grace to His children, especially during the moments of darkness and despair (‘This is Grace’) and not wanting to waste another day, living life to the fullest with Christ by our side (‘Without You’), are brought to the fore as the listener engages with the lyrical themes of each of the songs. Matt also wrote a special song, a lullaby for his children in ‘I Couldn’t Love You More’. Co-written with Jason Ingram, Matt sings out to his children across the musical elements of acoustic guitars, soft percussion and keys. We understand his unending love as he acknowledges that his love for his children is just a fraction of how much their Father loves them. As he sings out ‘…You are mine for a moment, but you are His, forever His, and in this life I am holding You but in His arms you live…’ we come to understand total surrender, that though we may not understand what happens on this earth, we give everything to God, knowing that His love for us runs deeper than we can ever imagine.
Overall: Matt’s album snuck up on me last year as one of the most underrated albums in September. Understanding the stories and meanings behind this collection of songs will make the impact all the more dynamic, however, even if you listen to this album without any knowledge of Matt’s son’s condition, you still will be blessed. This is an album for solemn reflection and declaratory praise as we sing to a God who has everything in His hands. God holds us together and as Holding You sums up the overall theme, ‘…it’s not in what you hold on to, it’s in the one who’s holding you tonight…’ Well done Matt for your blessing. May God continue to bless you and your family for the upcoming years!
RIYL: Bebo Norman, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jason Gray, One Sonic Society