Taizé services provide a setting where people can experience God and recharge their spiritual batteries. Christ calls his followers to times of prayer and silence, just as He asked the disciples, “Can you not watch with me for one hour?”
Taizé is a candlelight service with reflective music and chants, readings, and a time of silence for quiet, quiet prayer. Its prayers invite us to enter the depths of our being through simple, meditative chants sung over and over again. In community with people around the globe, we sing in various languages, transcending ordinary words in a spirit of prayer. Central to the prayers are times of silence, especially one long silence during which all the gathered are invited to remain quiet in God’s presence open to the spirit.
While the Taizé service lasts less than an hour, it does offer an opportunity to respond to the Lord’s summons to be still and be present with God. What follows is a brief history and description of Taizé.
“For many people the name “Taizé” evokes a certain style of singing that has become popular in more and more churches retreat centers, campus ministries, and seminaries. For some, the word also suggests retreats and gatherings, which attract large numbers of young adults…
“Taizé began with one man, Brother Roger. In 1940 he came to what was then a semi-abandoned village in Burgundy, France…he was 25 years old. He had come there to offer shelter to political refugees, notably Jews fleeing the Nazi persecution, and to work out a call to follow Christ in community, a community that would attempt to live the Gospel call to reconciliation day after day. Today the Taizé Community is composed of around a hundred brothers from different Christian traditions and from over twenty-five countries.
“It was in an open letter to young people written in Africa in 1978 that Brother Roger first raised the question of finding songs which would be ‘meditative and popular’—songs which would introduce people into a contemplative prayer which goes deep, yet at the same time are not reserved for the specialist or the initiated, but on the contrary are so simple that everyone can join in…”
“These songs are an intrinsic part of a search for God. They are a way of opening ourselves to Christ’s peace and joy. As we sing them, we are doing something in the presence of God, and giving the Holy Spirit an opportunity to act, yet without claiming that we have achieved something or that we have a hold on God…”
“For countless Christians down through the ages, a few words taken up again and again, without ceasing, have provided a way of contemplation, forging the unity of the person in God. And when the words are sung, perhaps they attain the depths of our being even more.
“Gradually, these songs which have no ending come to underlie our work, our encounters with others, our rest, and so they bring together the life in God and daily living. They continue day and night in the silence of the heart. They beckon us to join with many others in the search to build a reconciled human family and to run the risk of giving our lives for others.”
From CD jacket notes on the album Sing to God – Taizé, GIA Publications, Chicago, 199___