Taize worship is an ecumenical type of worship, meaning it reaches people worldwide. It originated in the small village of Taize, which lies in the southern part of Burgundy, France, by a monk named Roger Louis Schutz-Marsauche. Since its founding, the practice has spread worldwide since it is non-denominational and seeks to unite all forms of Christianity. Its peaceful, contemplative nature has drawn millions from all over the world to practice this kind of worship.
In 1940, Brother Roger, a monk in Taize, started a community that surrounded the peaceful style of prayer and worship he believed in. It was made up of people from all denominations who met three times a day, seven days a week, according to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Thousands make the pilgrimage every year to study and worship in the Taize style. They stay in the village and practice with the monks. The village is self-sufficient, never asking for donations or charity. In 2005, Brother Roger was stabbed to death during a prayer service, according to the BBC, but the Taize practice lives on.
Repetition is an important part of Taize worship because the service is about contemplation and being in touch with God and your spirituality. Repetitive prayers have historically been used in liturgy and hymns, which Taize emphasizes. According to the official Taize Community, the repetitive songs allow people to continue to pray the songs in their heads even after the service is over. This keeps prayer going all day long in the followers' minds and hearts.
While worship services rely on song, silence is also an important part of the Taize services. At planned times the music ceases and allows the congregation to think about what they have just been singing and saying. “It is simply holding oneself in a presence and letting Christ, through the Holy Spirit, pray in us,” according to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Sometimes these silences last around 10 minutes, which gives people a chance to reflect.
The music is simple in Taize worship. It focuses on simple eight-bar phrases according to The Threshold, a church that holds Taize services weekly. The singing is more like a chant than a melodious song. Psalms are often sung as songs in the services along with other hymns, sometimes in Latin. Simple, powerful phrases are focused on and repeated to aid with the meditation. Essentially, the lack of complex songs allows people to focus on what they are saying and not what is coming next.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images