In the Style of Taizé

taizeFor those of you who may not know, Taizé is an ecumenical Christian monastic community in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgandy, France. Established in August 1962, it has become one of the world’s most important sites of Christian pilgrimage, especially for youth. The community is known for music that emphasizes simple phrases, usually from Scripture, repeated and often sung in canon.

I was recently at a concert in which the choir sang  a prayer of St. Teresa of Avila “in the style of Taizé.” The choir and then the audience sang the following words several times and in a round:

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

The effect was very calming and soothing. Any problems I was having that day seemed to be washed away by the words being sung over and around me. God alone is truly all I need in this life, my soul heard loud and clear through that experience.

Shortly after that concert, I was worshiping at my church and the congregational responses to the prayers were sung “in the style of Taizé,” the bulletin noted. After each petition, the following words were sung:

O Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord, hear my prayer, when I call answer me. O Lord, hear my prayer. O Lord, hear my prayer. Come and listen to me.

The repetition of the words and the feeling of the words being sung by me and my brothers and sisters all around me was moving. I could sense the deep desire of the people to receive guidance from God and the constant drive for us to stay connected to God in prayer.

Songs and prayers should always be flowing from our hearts, if not our lips, over and over again throughout the day “in the style of Taizé.” Repeating meaningful words and Scriptures to ourselves can have a positive impact on our faith and life and actions. We have a tendency to forget things. But if we keep reminding ourselves of the good and gracious God we love who loves us in Christ and listens to us and cares for us, we can stay grounded in him.

Find a favorite Bible verse this week or a favorite hymn and speak or sing it several times “in the style of Taizé,” as part of your daily devotionals, and see how how your approach to the day’s struggles can be positively affected and spiritually grounded.



One reply

  1. Martha Torreson says:

    Hi Mark! I don’t know if you know this, but I actually spent a week at Taize, back in 1977, when I was returning from my time in Africa. (A few years before I met you & your family! 😉 ) I had decided to go there after one of the missionaries I worked with from the Netherlands shared some writings with me of the founder of the Taize community. It was quite an interesting experience, and the focus then stayed very much on as you write here… staying grounded in Him AND His work for us to do here for His Kingdom (another very powerful aspect of the Taize community).

    It’s been fascinating since then for me to watch how the “style of Taize” has become come more of “a thing” in many of our churches now. When it comes right down to it, at least from my experience of living in that community for a week, it really closely resembles God’s call to worship. Yet, I fear some communities attempt to take it a bit further & it becomes almost a bit more of a new-age mantra type of spiritual chanting in which the focus on the Lord no longer becomes central, and the “experience” of the chant becomes the center of the worship… Which is really sad, as I was able to witness the original style & intent those many years ago. (Not all churches do this, but it has become a danger to be alert to. Hope this makes sense.)

    By the way, I always appreciate reading your blog…. love to you & your family!!

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