What is Taizé worship? Why do so many people (up to 7000 a week – primarily young people) go to Taizé to pray? Why is the Taizé prayer so attractive?
There is certainly a multitude of answers but perhaps a key response lies in the fact that, at the heart of the prayer, there is a monastic community. Taizé is a little village in the south of Burgundy, France. In this village, over 60 years ago, Brother Roger founded a community devoted to prayer and living a parable of reconciliation within the church and the human family. The Community is made up of brothers from all the continents and major denominations who gather together three times a day, seven days a week, throughout the year to pray (whether there are 7000 young people present or only twenty).
The Taizé prayer is not simply a prayer form or model that can be adapted or inserted into any context with the same results. There are, however, characteristics of the Taizé prayer that can be useful in understanding its dynamics. The distinguishing marks include repetition and silence and the insertion of these into the liturgy. Repetition is not a new phenomenon nor unique to Taizé. The use of repetitive prayers is a long attested reality in the history of Christian spirituality and liturgy (for example, in the Jesus Prayer and the Rosary).
What is unique to the prayer of Taizé is the adaptation of the repetitive form to simple musical lines and core biblical texts that can be sung by a whole assembly of various nationalities, languages, and denominations. The duration of repetitive songs (whether in canon form or ostinato) during prayer is not to be timed nor the number of repetitions calculated beforehand. The assembly is to immerse itself in the simple but profound harmonies and let itself be carried by this sung prayer.
Silence is perhaps the second most important aspect of this particular prayer practice. In the middle of the prayer is a long period of silence (rather than a sermon or meditation). Maintaining silence is not a technique or method enabling some special communication with God. It is simply holding oneself in a presence and letting Christ, through the Holy Spirit, pray in us. There are not many short silences in a Taizé prayer rather the prayer moves along according to a certain rhythm through song, psalm and reading leading up to a longer silence (around 10 minutes) which then culminates in intercessory prayer and more song.
Taize Worship Video
Taize style music is very popular among college-age worshippers today. The hallmarks of Taize services are simplicity, peaceful spirituality, and music based upon the chant styles of the Taize monastery in France. Founded in the aftermath of the second World War by Brother Roger, who died in a prayer service in the midst of the community in August 2005, Taize is dedicated to peace and ecumenical action.
Taize music is both simple and sophisticated. Brother Roger, founder of Taize, seeks to add a prayerful element to music, and a musical element to prayer, believing firmly in the old dictum, ‘those who sing, pray twice’. The songs of Taize are designed to be sung by those who have difficulty carrying a tune, as well as those whose training and background in music extends to high levels.
Taize worship relies on psalms heavily, as well as periods of silence, Bible readings, and prayers.
The way Taize chants ‘work’ is that they are simple phrases and simple tunes that gradually reveal depth and sophistication by being repeated over and over. According to Brother Roger, all who follow this journey of the spirit remain alongside other people, adding their prayers and voices together. ‘They do not separate prayer and commitment.’
Want to know more? Goto Taize Official Website