Many artists aren't even fortunate enough to qualify as a “one-hit wonder,” let alone have several songs and electrifying live shows that resonate with audiences worldwide. But in its eight-year tenure, Delirious has fallen into that prestigious category and provided the church with a modern worship soundtrack that includes popular congregational favorites “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” and “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?”

Ironically, Delirious seems to have more in common with renowned hymn writers (who penned songs like “It Is Well With My Soul” and “Amazing Grace” out of tragedy) than with successful rock/worship stars. The year 2003 proved to be a difficult season. From the downsizing of its Furious Records’ label (which the band owns) to the unexpected death of a close friend, the band was left demoralized and seriously questioning its future.

Just more than a year ago (and coincidentally, the night before the interview for Delirious’ March 2003 CCM cover story) a leader in the church where the band members attend died suddenly at the age of 44, leaving a wife, four teenage daughters and a large hole in the community. John Thatcher Sr. was also bassist Jon Thatcher’s uncle, and three other members of the band are married to Jon’s three sisters.

Needless to say, it affected the entire band deeply.

In reaction to the tragedy, Martin Smith, the soft-spoken lead singer, wrote the track “Mountains High” which appears on Delirious’ latest, "World Service" (Sparrow), the night John passed away. “The opening line is ‘Sorrow came to visit us today,’ and I was really just trying to imagine sorrow like a person walking into a room,” says Smith. “It’s like you’re shaking hands with someone, and that’s his name – you know? The song doesn’t have a happy ending; there’s not a nice, rounded off answer to it like, ‘Now that we’ve gone through all that, isn’t it great we’ve come through it and here we are?’ I don’t think we’ll ever get through it in that way. The song is just a cry, asking God to help pull you over it and knowing it will be an ongoing process.

“When someone close to you dies, it’s actually a mixture of shock and emotion,” he continues. “But it’s also a very spiritual moment in that you actually feel God’s presence in an amazing way. There’s a line that says ‘Only tears can tell/Of this holy hour ...’ It really did feel like the God who created the heavens and the earth had just decided to step into time and take him [John] home. You can’t get holier than that.”

The reality of “Mountains High” is echoed in many of the other songs on "Service," and this is exactly what the band wanted.

“In the past we’ve tried a bit hard to write for a certain direction,” says lead guitarist Stu G. “We recorded "Glo" as a real congregational worship album, and we recorded "Touch" as an effort to write some radio songs. The first thing we thought coming into this [album] was that we just wanted to write with purity and integrity. We found a real freedom with that. And then you’ve got stuff happening around you ... like we lost quite a lot of money business-wise this year and had to lose some staff, John dying and the war in Iraq. It made us get on our knees.”

Says Smith, “There’s a lyric in ‘Feel It Coming On’ that says, ‘Look at where we’ve come, a boy becomes a man/But for the first time in our lives, we come without a plan,’ and that rings really true. We’ve still got a lot of vision; but I don’t think we know actually how it’s going to pan out, which is exciting. And if that means playing support to Bon Jovi again, we’ll do that; and if that means playing a massive crusade in America, then we’ll do that. It’s very freeing.”