I first heard the song during my sophomore year of college while spending a lot of time with this album. I was beginning to fall deeply in love with really worshiping God through singing…whether alone or at church or with a group of friends. Somehow, someway, this song crept into my heart and decided it would have an extended stay there. This is the story of Madly, my favorite worship song to sing.
Somewhere during that sophomore year, me and my best friends decided to start a men’s ministry on campus. We had a vision and a hope for bringing together guys from all walks of life, from all the separate sectors of school, from different ages and colors and backgrounds…all to glorify God together. We called it Monday Night Manhood. When the four of us sat down to plan things out, we quickly realized that someone would need to lead worship. I had a guitar. I knew how to play it. I’d always loved communal worship. The dots were connected.
My first task was to find a big batch of songs to work through. My goal was to always have a selection that everybody generally knew, but to also find a song here or there every now and then that was new and fresh. One week, early on, Madly was that song. There’s really not much to the song at all. It’s actually painfully simple. Even more, on the surface it appears to be everything that can frustrate me with worship songs — the verse is all about “me”, it uses the word “madly”, it talks about us dancing in the streets — it’s kind of in line with all sorts of worship song cliches. But you know what? For some reason, I had a good feeling about it. And that feeling was right.
I’m madly in love with You
I’m so madly in love with You
Yes I’m madly in love with You
I’m so madly in love with you
This room full of guys starting singing the verse with me. We got through the first four lines pretty quickly, so I decided it might be best to repeat them again before moving on to the chorus. So we did. Again. And then we did something strange. We just sang the verse again. It was almost like falling into a deeper meditation. A sweet, sincere reflection of how much we all really loved this God of ours. It was beautiful. By the time we finished professing our individual heart for God a third time, we sang about what that love was going to do thru us communally.
Let what we do in hear
Fill the streets out there
Let us dance for You
Let us dance for You
I can’t tell you how much I love those first two lines. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for getting our dance on in King David’s undignified way. But I’m more passionate about church and ministry not staying within the walls of church or ministry. If there’s one thought I could communicate about what the church really is, I think it’d be this part of this song.
Those men stood there and sang that chorus with everything they had. It was one of those moments where you find yourself leading something much bigger than you originally intended. I had not planned for God to really move in this way. Strange for a worship leader to admit that he had not planned for Him to show up during His worship, but such was the case. There was something brewing thru the singing of this song. The repetition, the simple words, the important message, the buildup of the music and the the lifting of our voices. Madly had immediately made it onto the mainstay list of worship songs. And no matter where I led worship after that, that truth remained.
The summer after I graduated college, while sending out resumes and looking for jobs, I worked with the high school ministry here for several months. I only led worship one night…my last. The first song I sang happened to be Anthony Skinner’s All I Want is You, an immediate hit…of course. I have no idea what I played next. Probably something written by Chris Tomlin. Coincidence that his first name and the initial to his last name spell ChrisT. I think not. Anyway…the last song I sang was Madly. A roomful of students sang their hearts out. Even after I left, the song became a staple there too.
In Kentucky, I began to lead worship alongside my best friend there, Josh Holland, and the student ministry that he led. A time-zone and 10 hours down the road, kids in the Bluegrass state sang just as loudly as kids here in the Natural state. It was wonderful to see. Literally, I was “full of wonder”. This song lined up people’s voices with their hearts. IT brought them to life.
And then moving back home to Arkansas, with a whole new group of students who probably hadn’t sang the song before, Madly was led again. And again, students were led into authentic, sincere, and real worship.
I’ve led the song in front of whole congregations and small student ministries, quietly and loudly, indoors and outdoors, backpacking in Colorado and camping in Wisconsin, in the open hollers of Kentucky and the cramped city of Chicago, in my office, my house, and my yard, with a band full of folks or just me and my guitar…I’ve led that song hundreds of times. And even when I’m tired of playing it and swear I’ll never play it again for fear that all the “magic will run out”…that song once again leads me and others into the heart of God. It’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Don’t judge a book by it’s cover, and don’t judge a worship song by it’s simplicity. God uses whatever He wants to use for how He wants to use it. God has certainly used this song.
Here’ s me and a couple of guys I love leading worship with, Tyler Keeling and Taz Anderson, playing the song at my house a couple of weeks ago. Tyler and I on guitar and vocals, Taz on viola. When you have time, press play, and allow yourself time and space to have a brief, though authentic, sincere, and real encounter.
Madly – written by Steve Fee