Taize‘ Prayer / Meditation
In 1940, a 25-year-old man from Switzerland, Brother Roger, travelled to the small village of Taize’ in the Burgundy Region of France with the dream of starting an ecumenical community for contemplation and reconciliation for people of all faiths.
Today, this community is made up of people from several continents and various denominations and draws ten’s of thousands of people from all corners of the world. They come in search of trust and connection in their lives.
Three times daily they come together to pray in the Church of Reconciliation. An important part of the Taize’ experience is the singing/chanting of simple meditative songs developed specifically for the prayer service.
“Singing is one of the most important forms of prayer. A few words over and over again reinforce the meditative quality of the prayer. These simple chants can provide a way of praying when one is alone, during the day or at night, or even in the silence of one’s heart.”
~ Brother Roger
What is Taize‘Prayer?
Taize’ prayer is flexible and has no real beginning or end. Songs are repeated over and over again to help us enter quietly into the presence of God. The simple phrases are easily memorized so that books are not necessary. In the music and prayer of Taize’ many different languages are often used to reflect both the International and Ecumenical nature of the community. It is appropriate, whenever possible, that different languages be heard in the prayer as a reminder that we are all part of one universal Church, which is for all nations and peoples and exists in all times and ages.
People often ask why Latin is used in many of the chants. The brothers found that with so many people gathering together who did not understand each other’s language, a common language of unity needed to be found. Although a ‘dead’ language, Latin is able to bring people together and its phrases are easily picked up and understood.
In this busy world, we need more and more to nurture ourselves on things spiritual, while quieting life long enough to hear the sounds of silence that exist between the notes each chant emanates. The prayer tradition of Taize’ is based on the monastic hours of prayer and can help us let to go of our daily preoccupations while allowing us to get in touch with the spiritual side of ourselves.
What Can I Expect?
People may kneel or sit, taking whatever posture is most comfortable for them. Taize’ combines candlelight, silence and Scripture with simple chants to help build awareness of God’s presence within ourselves while in community.
As the psalmist wrote: “ O Lord, my heart is not lifted up, my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a child quieted at its mother’s breast.”
Related articles and Videos:
- Prayer for Good Friday (onthebema.com)