David Partington, pastor, musician, spiritual director and retreat leader, holds a Master of Sacred Music degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and a Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He holds a certificate in spiritual guidance from the ShalemInstitute of Spiritual Formation. Prior to his ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian tradition, he had a career as a musician from 1966-1975. In that season of ministry, David was the Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Since his ordination as a Presbyterian minister in 1978, David has served several congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and served as a member of the hymnal committee for The Presbyterian Hymnal: Hymns, Psalms, and Spiritual Songs. His articles on worship and music have been published in Reformed Liturgy & Music.
Taizé Prayer Service
Worship in the Spirit of Taizé
People are handed a bulletin and a candle as they come in the door, where they gather quietly in the gently lit worship space. At the front, a few lighted candles sit amongst Christian symbols or icons. People sit during the first few songs, which usually are sung in English, but may also be in Latin, French, or Spanish. These are songs of adoration praise or petition to the Lord. Two or three different songs are sung to begin. Then all stand, and a few (usually the children) come to the front to light their candles. They then walk to the first rows, sharing their light with the person on the end, who turns to his neighbor, and shares the light.
When all the candles are lit, the cantor utters a few words of prayer, and everyone raises their candles and sings "Alleluia" with the cantor.
A Scripture reading follows. And, as the people sing gently again, each person comes to the front to stand their candle in a pot filled with sand, and then return to their place. When all have surrendered their candle, quietness descends, and the people sit in silent prayer for ten minutes.
The cantor ends the silence by beginning a song, which everyone sings. A time for prayer for those near, and those far away, and for all the things that are on our hearts follows, with all the people joining in with "Kyrie eleison." This time of prayer is ended with the people joining hands and praying the Lord's prayer together. A final hymn ends the service, and everyone is invited to share the Lord's peace with their neighbor.
Taizé Prayer is an ecumenical form of prayer modeled after an international, ecumenical community founded in the 1940's by Br. Roger in Taizé, France.
At the heart of daily life in Taizé are three times of prayer together. Since the late 1950s, many thousands of young adults from many countries have found their way to Taizé to take part in weekly meetings of prayer and reflection.
Everything began in great solitude. In 1940, at the age of 25, Brother Roger left his native Switzerland in order to live in France, the country of his mother. For several years he had borne within him a calling to begin a community where reconciliation between Christians would be lived out in daily life. A community where "kindness of heart would be a matter of practical experience, and where love would be at the heart of all things."
He wanted this community to be present in the midst of the suffering of the time, and thus it was that he made his home in the small village of Taizé, in Burgundy, just a few miles from the demarcation line which cut France in two during the first years of the war. There he was able to hide refugees (Jews in particular) who had fled the occupied zone in the knowledge that they could find refuge in his house.
After the war he was joined by others, and on Easter Day, 1949, the first brothers of the community made their commitment to a life in celibacy, to community of possessions, and to simplicity of life.
During a long silent retreat in the winter of 1952-3, Brother Roger wrote "The Rule of Taizé" which expressed the "things necessary for living in community."
Today the Taizé Community is made up of over a hundred brothers, Catholics and from various Protestant backgrounds, coming from more than twenty-five nations. The community's existence is in itself a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and divided nations. The brothers are committed for their whole life to material and spiritual sharing, to celibacy, and to a great simplicity of life.