All the seventeen years that the band was together we never existed just to get in the charts or sell sell sell. Our best motives and highest calling was to try to be a voice that made others think, that called out praise and tried to chase down the smile of God.” – Martin Smith, Delirious?
When I was a little boy I remember sitting in church listening to the old lady playing amazing hymns on the organ. Even then I remember it affecting me. Even then it seemed that for some reason this music got inside my soul. Then, when I was 12 my dad bought me a guitar. I didn’t care how it sounded; it was bright blue and it looked amazing. Mum and dad were mad enough to let me play it in church one Sunday and, I guess, that was where things began. Even back then I knew somehow that my mates at school would find our church music boring. All those hymns and all that solemnity and ancient words were bound to feel so alien to them and their worlds of TV pop shows, waffle jumpers and wet-look hair gel. The old lady with her amazing hymns would be lost on them.
And so, back then, I had this hunch that something needed to change. I had a feeling that I should do what I could to be a part of that shift into whatever would come next. Years later I found myself with a microphone, four incredibly talented friends and a bunch of songs that resonated with a movement of people across the earth that wanted their faith to count. For my friends – the ones behind me and those in front – it was never enough for this to be about making a weekly display of religion at the altar. It was about something altogether bigger: the act of bringing our lives as a sacrifice to our Creator. This was not about filling pews but about meeting God, a God who is not dead but alive, our God for whom we choose to stand on the rooftops and shout about. With the microphone and the friends behind and in front of me, we would sing unending songs of how great it felt that God had ‘saved my soul.’ The happiness was such that I’m pretty sure we all danced at least a thousand miles over the years.
These were the days when Delirious? was born and became the property of the people. We were never a traditional chart band; we were writing songs for a little movement of spiritual rebels, not for mass-market or industry execs. Even today, I still believe that God’s songs get measured by a different scale than chart placements and sales sheets. But I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wish that Radio 1 had played us a bit more back then. But who can blame them? We had the word ‘God’ in our lyrics, and let’s face it, that’s enough to spoil even the best of parties. We were hardly the sort of band that Q magazine were going to champion either: the most dangerous thing we ever did was drive back through the night to be at church on a Sunday morning with our wives and kids.
We never had a number one single, we never played top of the pops, we never had a platinum record. But we stayed together for 17 years and gave it everything we could. We loved it; saw people’s faces light up. We played in more than 40 countries, saw heaven touch earth and saw ordinary people believe they could be history makers. I can remember so many of them: people from all walks of life realising they were part of a bigger story, a treasured and vital part of His story.
On November 29th we played our last show together at the Hammersmith Apollo. It was both sad and happy. It was the end of something great, the lowering of a flag, but deep inside was the knowledge that the flag needed to come down to allow a new set of colours to be painted on it. That’s the thing about people movements: they don’t just die when the microphone gets switched off. They live on, not dependent on the new song or the latest video. They live on because of the beautiful truth that movements are made of people who are on fire for something. It is because of this that I am certain without a shadow of a doubt that the spirit of what we all sang about will live on forever. After all, it’s been echoing down the generations already. Delirious? didn’t really do anything new; we just got to hold the flag for a bit, just like that old lady with her amazing hymns. All of us reach the point where it is time to pass it on.
And so this all brings us to this week. This extra-ordinary week. This week when I finally figure out what people mean by the power of Facebook. What I take away from it is this: It was not that the campaign was determined to get a song in the charts, or that it wanted to help raise the Delirious? flag one more time. They just happened to be the symptoms of something far more exciting and powerful: the power of people who want their faith to count, people who want to make some noise because of what God has done for them. People who know that out of the deathly silence of Good Friday comes the greatest sound of all as the Father’s only Son re-wrote the laws of the universe so that you and I could be restored with God.
All the seventeen years that the band was together we never existed just to get in the charts or sell sell sell. Our best motives and highest calling was to try to be a voice that made others think, that called out praise and tried to chase down the smile of God. It was always about responding to what we saw in you - people all around the world, on fire for God, wanting to see the world changed by His Glory. In the end you did us out of a job. Our cheers and shouts for you from the sidelines reached their proper end, and we stepped back, the chapter closed.
Then, four months later you take a song and put it in the top ten.
I want to say thank you to all of you who bought or downloaded the song. And thank you to the remarkable individuals who came up with the idea in the first place and helped bring it to birth with such integrity, wisdom and skill. All of you - the planners and the facebookers and the downloaders - you’re all mad! Mad because you probably already own three copies of it, mad because you spent hard earned cash on a song that’s 15 years old and mad because you joined with others that you’ve never met to create a whole lot of noise about Jesus.
But I love mad people, and I’m very proud to be a part of all your lives.
All over the last tour we were using a Latin phrase cos it sounded better and more mysterious than the English. ‘Fabula Est Vestri’ – The Story Is Yours. I had no idea it would be taken to heart so quickly. I had no idea you would show how clearly that the story certainly is yours now, just like it always was and always will be.
Historymakers… I look forward to seeing you all in the next chapter.