Home History of Hymns: 'Shout to the North and the South'

History of Hymns: 'Shout to the North and the South'

By Nathan Myrick

“Shout to the North and the South”
by Martin Smith
Worship & Song, 3042

Martin smith
Martin Smith

“Shout to the North” is modern worship anthem originally recorded by British rock outfit Delirious? for their 1995-6 demo Cutting Edge Fore, the fourth installment of their “Cutting Edge” series, while the band was still called Cutting Edge. Later, after the band changed its name to Delirious? (at the time stylized “Deliriou5?), the song was included on the 1997 album Cutting Edge 3 & 4 by Kingsway/Integrity Music, a compilation of earlier demo tapes recorded in 1994 and 1995, published by Curious? Music, U.K. The material from Cutting Edge 3 & 4 was paired with the material from Cutting Edge 1 & 2 to form a two-disc set released by Furious? Records/Sparrow Records in the USA, called simply Cutting Edge in 1997.

If that chronology confuses you, you are not alone. In fact, owing to the convoluted series of commercial relationships that compose much of the Christian music industry, it is often difficult to distill the sources and origins of any given song or repertory. Compounding the confusion is the reality of international sales and distribution, coupled with the odd and complex structure of publishing and copyright legalities that such inter-and multinational networks require to navigate a globalized world.

I do not relay this information to be cynical, nor to undermine the credibility of hymnody whose original mode of publication was electronic. Rather, the multitude of copyright and publishing dates and companies (Curious? appears to have become Furious? in 1996) for the song and its parent album[s] represents a keystone moment in the history of contemporary worship music (CWM), when small, largely independent UK-based modern worship outfits were distributed in the USA during what Monique M. Ingalls calls, “The British Invasion” of worship music (Ingalls et al., n.p.; Ingalls 2015). The operation was spearheaded by record executives in Nashville who had encountered the music of modern worship leaders at what Peter Ward calls “New Paradigm” churches in the UK during the mid 1990s and sought to bring it to the U.S.

At the vanguard of this invasion was Delirious?, a five-piece ensemble from Littlehampton, England, whose sonority invoked U2 more than Keith Green or Rich Mullins. Originally formed in 1992 as a three-piece band of brothers-in-law (they all married daughters of Arun Community Church elder David Thatcher) called “The Cutting Edge Band,” Delirious? began as an alternative worship event of Arun Community Church. The three original members of Cutting Edge, Tim Jupp (b.1966) on keyboards, Stewart “Stew” Smith (b. 1968) on drums, and Martin Smith (b. 1970) on guitars/vocals, recorded the material that would become Cutting Edge 1 & 2 in 1993-1994. After deciding that they wanted to pursue music as a full-time career (in the aftermath of a serious car accident involving Martin Smith), the trio added Jon Thatcher (b. 1976), bass, son of David Thatcher, and Stuart Garrard (b.1963), guitar—“not a brother-in-law” (Powell, 2000, 250) before recording the tracks that would populate 3 & 4 in 1995-1996.

The sonic palette of 3 & 4 differed significantly from 1 & 2. While the original recordings reflect the production and performance techniques characteristic of Maranatha! Music or Integrity/Kingsway Music during the early 1990s (who seem to have administered distribution for 1 & 2), 3 & 4 took a left turn at the “electric guitar aisle.” Featuring dotted-eighth-note delay made famous by The Edge of U2 and much more pronounced low-end rhythmic groove, the songs of the later Cutting Edge demos exhibit the sound that would become iconic to the British Invasion of modern worship music.

The songs from these early Delirious? recordings are some of the most well-known and loved in the contemporary worship music repertoire, including “Lord, You Have My Heart” (1994), “Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?” (1995), “God, You Are My God” (2000), and perhaps the definitive anthem of the British Invasion, “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” (2001). The latter of these, “I Could Sing,” was covered by DC Talk’s touring band, Zilch, with Jeff Deyo on lead vocals, and it became the signature song of the group now known as Sonicflood. (Ironically, Sonicflood’s Wikipedia page makes an uncited claim that they were “the fathers of the Modern Worship Movement,” which, as evidenced by their near-identical cover of Delirious?’s song in 1999, is patently false). Adding insult to injury, the copyright information for the video on Sonicflood’s YouTube channel fails to cite Delirious? and Martin Smith as the authors of the song, although the all-too-difficult-to-decipher liner notes on their self-titled (1999) album do indeed note Smith as the author.

“Shout to the North” appeared first on the album Cutting Edge 3 and Fore (1995) and, while perhaps not as well known as some other Delirious? offerings, is nonetheless a staple of “blended” hymnody for many congregations. Written by Martin Smith in the mid-nineties, the song’s lilting 3/4 meter and simple, memorable melody lend themselves easily to congregational use and SATB harmonization. Yet the song can also be performed in the modern worship idiom Delirious? helped initiate. The accompanying band functions as the harmonic elements of the piece, taking worship leadership from a singular to a group activity.

Lyrically, the theological elements of “Shout to the North” represent the first hints at a turn from internal, individual devotion toward external acts of justice in Delirious?’s catalogue. While “Lord, You Have My Heart” and other early efforts reflect a personal understanding of faith and worship, “Shout to the North” offers an anthem of declaration rather than silent or inner devotion—literally. With punctuated utterances of the words “shout” and “to,” the locutionary function is direct, in that we are doing what the lyrics suggest. Such shouting is not merely for our sake, but for the sake of others as well, and hints at the direction “White Ribbon Day” (1997) and other tracks would take in their pleas to end violence and injustice.

Lyrically, the theological elements of “Shout to the North” represent the first hints at a turn from internal, individual devotion toward external acts of justice in Delirious?’s catalogue.

In the second verse, Smith and company exhort women whose experiences have been decidedly difficult to rejoice in spite of and perhaps because of their suffering: “You are strong when you feel weak/in your brokenness complete.” While not explicitly stated in interviews or printed reflections, this stanza is particularly interesting when considered in light of the experience Smith shares in his autobiography, Delirious: My Journey with the Band, a Growing Family, and an Army of Historymakers (2011), of encountering Farin, the daughter of a prostitute, in India in 2007. In a review of the book in HM Magazine, Doug Van Pelt notes that this experience radically changed Smith’s perspective on human relationships and justice in the world (Van Pelt, 2011).


“Delirious?: Martin Smith Gives His Most Revealing Interview Ever.” Crossrhythms.Co.Uk, 2016. Accessed July 26, 2019, No Author Given, http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/music/Delirious/20129/p1.

Monique M. Ingalls, Andrew Mall, and Anna E. Nekola, “Christian Popular Music, USA.” The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology. Canterbury Press, accessed July 8, 2019, http://www.hymnology.co.uk/c/christian-popular-music,-usa.

Monique M. Ingalls, “Transnational Connections, Musical Meaning, and the 1990s ‘British Invasion’ of North American Evangelical Worship Music” in Oxford Handbooks Online, edited by Jonathan Dueck and Suzel Ana Reily, Oxford Handbook of Music and World Christianities, 425–445, 2015. Accessed November 15, 2016,https://www.academia.edu/42390... Allan Powell, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2002).

Martin Smith and Craig Borlase. Delirious: My Journey with the Band, a Growing Family, and an Army of Historymakers (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2011).

Doug Van Pelt, “Delirious Frontman Pens Autobiography.” HM Magazine, 2011. Accessed July 26, 2019, https://hmmagazine.com/delirious-frontman.

Nathan Myrick, a native of Warroad, MN, received his M.A. in theology from Fuller Seminary and PhD in church music from Baylor University. His research focuses on musical activity and human flourishing in the context of Christian communities. He has produced two musical albums and numerous articles and book chapters. He is currently assistant professor of church music at Townsend School of Music, Mercer University, Macon, Georgia.

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