Wednesday Evening Taizé Prayer
Gathered in the presence of Christ, we sing uncomplicated, repetitive songs, uncluttered by too many words, allowing the mystery of God to become tangible through the beauty of simplicity. A few words sung over and over again reinforce the meditative quality of prayer. They express a basic reality of faith that can quickly be grasped by the intellect and that gradually penetrates the whole being. A prayer service lasts 30-40 minutes.
Taizé began in a small French village during World War II, when a Swiss theologian, Brother Roger, established a community dedicated to peace, prayer and reconciliation in the world. His constant question was “Who is the most needy amongst us?” This led him to risk his life leading Jews, Gypsies, and others to safety during the years of Nazi occupation.
After the war, it led him to meet weekly with a group of German prisoners, whom he fed and ministered to. He found that the most effective way to pray together, given their theological differences and the language barrier, was to simply sit in silence together and share songs of simple tunes with Latin words. He is quoted as often saying “Words can so often divide us, but in the simplicity of song and silence we find that we can meet in trust at the heart”.
The brotherhood he established was ecumenical—that is, all denominations of Christians were included. Brother Roger was Protestant, but Catholic and Orthodox brothers were welcomed to seek a life together of simplicity and service. The fraternity brought aid to the poor in rural and urban areas throughout Europe as well as holding worship services built on their earlier model with German prisoners.
Within a few years, thousands of pilgrims from every continent were flocking to Taizé to experience the beauty of this sung worship. The music emphasizes simple phrases (usually lines from Psalms or other pieces of Scripture) repeated until they work their way into the rhythms of the heart, a form of “praying without ceasing.”
In many places across the world, ecumenical prayers using music from Taizé are organized by people, young and old, who have been in touch with the community. The Taizé community website provides reflections, prayers, and songs for anyone’s use.
Taizé services are offered at St. Luke’s and at other area churches in the same spirit—to give seekers of spirituality a comfortable place to worship no matter what their creed or dogma, to bring a variety of people together in loving contemplation, and to enrich the lives of those who attend through beauty.