This summer, on the last Sunday of each month, we will worship in the Taizé style. Located in southeastern France, Taizé is an ecumenical monastic community which strives to be a living example of Christian unity. Founded by Brother Roger, a Roman Catholic originally from Switzerland, the community began during World War II and some of its first work was to shelter refugees fleeing from occupied France and later to care for children whose parents had been killed during the war. Today, the community consists of over 100 brothers, Catholics and Protestants of various backgrounds, representing around 30 nationalities (www.taize.fr).
In addition to the members of the monastic community who reside there, Taizé attracts large numbers of teenagers and young adults from around the world who come to spend a week or an entire summer participating in communal life. Young people spend their time at Taizé engaged in worship, study, and service. Families and church leaders are also regularly welcomed at Taizé.
But perhaps what has made the Taizé community most widely known is its music. In order to create a worship setting in which people from many nations could easily participate, Brother Roger began to write simple, chant-like songs in many languages. The words are usually short phrases or sentences from Scripture, set to a simple melody, and there are songs in several different languages including Latin (which equalizes all singers, as it is the native language of none!). Taizé-style worship services include prayers, readings from Scripture, and music sung repetitively to create a meditative effect.
I was first introduced to music from Taizé during college and immediately loved it. I was able to spend a week in Taizé in the summer after my first year of seminary, and was profoundly moved by participating in the worship services there and hearing 2000 voices joining together in songs of all languages. I look forward to Taizé style worship services at Immanuel this summer and hope that we may be inspired by the spirit of Christian unity they represent.
Peace, Shalom, Paix, Friede, Paz, Maluhia, Pax,