A few years ago, the University of Virginia conducted an experiment. Each participant was given a mild electric shock. They all said that they didn’t like it and would pay money never to experience it again. Then each of them were put into rooms alone for up to 15 minutes with all distractions, e.g. cellphones, music access, reading material, removed. They did have a shock button. Within those 15 minutes, 66% of the males pushed the button and 25% of the females! I will let you wonder what that might say in terms of spirituality and gender. My point is that many people in the modern world seem allergic of silence. Silence, however, is important in all spiritual traditions.
I don’t remember when I first became aware of the Taize form of worship, but I have been a fan for many years. True confession though: I have never been to the French town of Taize where Brother Roger and his small band of Protestant brothers formed a religious community after World War II.
Taize worship emphasizes Scripture reading, silence, and simple choruses. Brother Roger was not a fan of long sermons! Many of the choruses come from passages of Scripture, mostly of the Gospels or the Psalms. Brother Roger emphasized singing a simple chorus multiple times in order for the song to move from the lips to the heart.
Apart from the music, the service revolves around Scripture reading and silence. The silence is, for many, an opportunity to meditate on the reading or perhaps to pray as the reading has moved you.
I have only found one church in Birmingham that has an occasional Taize service. The music was wonderful and the Scripture readings were meaningful. However, the periods of silence were hardly long enough to get settled. Perhaps they knew their congregation might have started looking for some shock buttons!
I encourage you, if you are not already familiar with Taize, to find some of its music and listen to it. It can be easily found on the Web and, if you are an oldie like me, you can buy some music cds. (I own ten!) Perhaps listening to and singing some of these choruses will put you in the mood to spend a few minutes of silence alone with your God.
Here is an example with Bless the Lord. Sing along with it–let the words move from your lips to your heart.
4 thoughts on “Silence and the Way of Taize”
Great post, LaMon. Appreciate your coming to Vestavia Hills Baptist church this past week to teach about Taize. Very inspiring.
Thanks Gary and thanks for helping me to understand how to get the music in the post!
Done it and love it. I have often been an advocate of fewer words in sermons and more meditation on the Scriptures and let them speak for themselves. And as to lasting spiritual content, songs outdo nearly every sermon (even the best ones!) for what comes to mind when I need it.
We have a great preacher at Baptist Church of the Covenant, so I usually appreciate her sermons. Nevertheless, I agree with you on every point. The primary ‘value’ of preaching these day, at least in America, seems to be to give some spiritual sustenance to people who would not get it any other way, i.e. they don’t read scripture, they don’t study the Bible either alone or in a group, and they rarely pray (or listen).