I had the very very fortunate privilege of interviewing Matt Maher recently about his album “Saints and Sinners.” I have reviewed the album on this blog, but it’s quite another thing to hear the story behind the creative process in making this album.
So where did the inspiration for this album come from?
I was thinking about this next album while on tour for All the People Said Amen. Originally making protest songs, going back to the Shakespearean definition of the word, which means. loudly proclaim something you believe. too confusing. too long to explain. Moved on to the idea of being inspired by the saints. Not just those who are canonized. Reveal something about God’s heart. Inspired by world youth day in Brazil. Look through Church History. January of last year, starting writing A Future Not My Own. Had a phase of writer’s block. Record label wanted a whole album and he had a lot of unfinished songs.
Tell me the stories behind some of the songs on this album.
Because He Lives-Gaither. Taking pieces of the song and sort of making it a “part two” to the original. Instrument is, obviously, inspired by St. Francis. It felt like God was working through me with this particular song because it just feels so timely. Abide With Me was inspired by “Abide In Me.” The song was composed by Henry Francis Lyte as he was dying. Glory Bound was nspired by Woody Guthrie’s “This Train is Bound for Glory.” I use the music in this album to illustrate the dichotomy of being called to be saints, but still being a sinner. 80s music was a big influence, including Springsteen. Land of My Father was inspired by a talk that centered on idea of returning to the Kingdom of God. The chorus was inspired by Isaiah 6 and the vision of Heaven. It reminds people of God’s kingship.
What is your personal favorite song on the album?
When I first created the album, my favorite track was “Rest.” I wrote it while my grandmother was losing her eyesight, coming to terms with the fact that she’s dying. I started thinking about the idea of dying with dignity.
My current favorite, now that I’m on tour is “Deliverer.” “Deliverer” was inspired by life as a parent and as an artist. Mary held all these things in her heart-and I’m just starting to learn what that means now. The moments you experience with children reveal a glimpse of the kingdom of God, impact your life. This song was inspired by my son overcoming his fear of the dark, but it didn’t come to me right away. It came from carrying this memory in my heart first.
Who are your go-to saints?
This album is round one of my list. These are the saints that are walking with me.
What advice would you give to young Catholic adults?
To those in the church: Memory is a powerful thing. Most of our faith is rooted in our memory. Sin is rooted in our fear of the future or the past. We have memories of what it means to be a sinner, not just to remind us about the Mercy of God, but to continue actively pursuing a relationship with God. We remember needing mercy so that we can be merciful to others. The mercy we are called to extend is limitless and inexhaustible. What the world needs now are saints that are rooted in reality and not in sentimentality. Most people grew up with a distortion of Christianity. God shining in our weakness, the power of the Cross is perfected in our weakness.