What is Taizé anyway? Taizé is a village in France where a unique ecumenical form of contemplative worship was created by a monastic community for people worldwide. It originated following WWII under the leadership of Brother Roger and today has become a very significant site of religious pilgrimage. Over 100,000 people a year travel to Taizé to take part in this unique form of religious contemplation. The pilgrims return home encouraged to live in the spirit of kindness, simplicity and reconciliation.
The Brothers at Taizé believe that singing is the most essential element of worship. So they use short songs, repeated again and again, to give their worship a meditative character. They use just a few simple words to express the basic reality of faith and, as this reality is sung repetitively, it is believed that it will gradually penetrate the whole being. It allows for immersion in the faith and an attitude of listening and mindfulness to be cultivated. Because there is no fixed length to the song, attentiveness is nurtured. People remain seated during the singing in order to encourage centeredness.
The Brothers also recognize the value of silence, something we are short on in our daily lives. So following each song is a moment of silence for personal reflection and communion. It is meant to be a time of calm and satisfaction, when words and thoughts are not needed. Silence requires a kind of simplicity that sets aside our worries and fears, that allows us to anchor ourselves in trust, hope and the wonder of life.
Many Unitarian Universalist churches worldwide are turning to the Taizé form of worship to create meaningful contemplative services for their own members. The service today is meant to bring together the structure of Taizé worship with the elements of our UU faith at Emerson. We will use our own hymns, prayers and rituals to do Taizé the UU way.