Posted by: Philip Rushton | March 14, 2011

What’s This Taizé Thing All About?

This coming Sunday we are having a Taizé prayer service. It will be held at 7:00PM at Gebert Chapel. Since this is unfamiliar to the majority of us I thought I would give a bit of an explanation on what a Taizé service is all about.

Taizé is simply the name of a town in France. In 1940, a man known as Brother Roger founded a small community of Christians in Taizé. During this war torn era of France, Brother Roger sought to create a community of healing and refuge. He comments, “‘The defeat of France awoke powerful sympathy. If a house could be found there, of the kind I had dreamed of, it would offer a possible way of assisting some of those most discouraged, those deprived of a livelihood; and it could become a place of silence and work.’” The Taizé community, then, was born out of a vision to create a space for people to find God in the midst of brokenness. Hence, the name of the church in Taizé is the “Church of Reconciliation.”

After the war this community began to grow. Besides the 100 permanent members of the Taizé community, there are currently over 100,000 visitors to Taizé annually. During the peak summer months the small town of Taizé will receive up to 5000 visitors who come for spiritual retreats. The majority of these ‘modern day pilgrims’ are young people in their 20’s. The Taizé community is also ecumenical in nature – meaning that it includes people from a variety of Christian denominations.

The Taizé community has had a major impact in the area of prayer and worship. They have developed a large repertoire of their own music, which is now sung around the world. Taizé music is very contemplative in nature. It usually involves a simple one or two line refrain that is repeated multiple times. As the refrain is repeated over and over, different instrumental and vocal harmonies are brought in. The purpose of this repetitive singing is to help us focus and contemplate on a single aspect of God for an extended period of time.

Brother Roger explains the purpose of a prayer service at Taizé in this way:

“From the depths of the human condition a secret aspiration rises up. Caught in the anonymous rhythms of schedules and timetables, men and women of today are implicitly thirsting for an essential reality, for an inner life. Nothing is more conducive to a communion with the living God than a meditative common prayer with, as its high point, singing that never ends and that continues in the silence of one’s heart when one is alone again.”

If you are around this Sunday I’d encourage you to join us. The Taizé prayer services I’ve personally been a part of over the years have been very meaningful to me. Let’s carve out some space to encounter the living God this Lenten season!

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Responses

  1. Sounds great, looking forward to it!

  2. Thanks Phil for providing the background on the Taize service. We’re looking forward to it. A friend invited us to one in Portland over the years, but we never attended, grateful for this local one.

  3. Last nights Taize service was awesome! The setting, the music, the simplicity in the singing all blended to bring about a sense of communion with the living God. Thank you, and all the musicians who contributed for making that time beautiful. Looking forward to the next one!

  4. Awesome, great, do it again………………..

  5. Thank you for having a taize praise service. It made me feel so in tune with God. I loved the feel of being at peace and the quiteness of it. Thank you so much for doing it.

    Sharon Ratcliff

  6. Hi Sharon,

    Glad that it was a meaningful experience for you! I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback and interest in doing it again. I’d like to build this into the rhythm’s of our church somehow. We’ll plan to have another service in the next couple of months.

    Phil

  7. […] Join us this Sunday at 7pm for our quarterly contemplative Taizé prayer service. For more information about this service check out the following link: “What’s This Taizé Thing All About?” […]


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