Taizé worship during Lent

This article about Taizé worship was originally written in 2018. Taizé is held weekly during Lent 2022, alternating between in-person at the Cathedral, and Zoom online sessions. Consult the Ad-LENT-ures schedule for details.

Candles flicker in the semi-darkness of the cathedral on a cold winter's evening as  people seated in a circle begin to softly sing in Latin to piano accompaniment.

Laudate omnes gentes, laudate dominum.” The two simple phrases, which mean “Sing praises, all you people, sing praises to the Lord,” are repeated many times by the singers. The effect is calming.

So begins a Taizé worship service. It includes liturgical readings from the psalms and gospels, a couple periods of silent reflection, meditative prayers, chant-like songs in English or Latin, but no sermon or eucharist. The service, which lasts less than 40 minutes, is offered on the third Thursday of the month at the cathedral.

Jim Morell attended recently for the first time.

“I enjoyed it,” Jim said. “It was a chance to be with God in a peaceful, prayerful, quiet environment at the end of an otherwise busy day. Taizé will be a priority on my calendar of events, especially during Lent.”

Cathedral member Ann Sherman led such services occasionally and, after she died in 2017, this quiet style of worship was revived by Kurt Schmidt, Director of Christian Formation at the cathedral.

“Response has been great,” Kurt said. “The words, music and silence invite people into a stillness where they can listen for the voice of God, which is very important in today's noisy, hectic world.”

Kurt Schmidt at Taize

READINESS – Director of Christian formation Kurt Schmidt lights candles in the cathedral to prepare for a recent Taizé service which is a short service of simple, meditative prayers and chant-like songs.

He explained that this style of contemplative worship stems from an ecumenical, monastic community founded in the 1940s in the village of Taizé, located in the Burgundy region of France. Thousands of people, especially youth, have attended annual international conferences to learn from the monastic brothers who hail from many nations and who devote themselves to service and community. Catholics and Protestants around the world have adopted the Taizé style.

Chris and Diane Stevenson frequently attend the Taizé services.

“I like the quiet and the meditative time,” Diane said. “The Holy Spirit's presence can be felt here.”

Chris agreed. “During the service, it seems like a thin place – a place where God is definitely here and very near,” he said.

Beverly Morell said she likes the peacefulness of the service and the opportunity to reflect on the messages in the scripture passages. She was pleased to hear there will be expanded opportunities to take part during Lent.

“I invite people to visit the cathedral during Lent to try this lovely way of praising and meeting God,” Kurt concluded.

More information about the Taizé community is available at www.taize.fr


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