A Pilgrimage of Song and Silence

At first, it was silent. A calming kind of silent.

My eyes were fixed on the dripping wax of the altar's single flickering candle. By the time the music started, my awareness of the hard wooden pew beneath me had softened, faded, and shifted to the old wooden crucifix illuminated by the candle's flame. A cantor offered smooth soprano verses from the back balcony, her voice moving through the sacred space like smoke wafting from burning incense. As the voices around me joined her in a contemplative response, they carried the ancient-sounding melodies to every corner of the cathedral.

Despite being new to Taizé-style worship, I felt wholly included in its call to unity, its observance of mystery, and its quest for peace.

Vieni Spirito creatore, vieni. Come and pray in us, Holy Spirit.

Dona nobis pacem cordium. Grant us peace of heart.

While Taizé worship services can look different from place to place, most share the common features of silent meditation, prayer, candles, icons, and special music.

As part of their centennial celebration, parish leaders at Seattle's St. James Cathedral invited Brother John from the Taizé Community of France to attend a special prayer service last October. Brother John's weeklong stay included facilitating an ecumenical meeting for area pastors, visiting Seattle Pacific University, and—the capstone event—leading an all-day Taizé retreat at Seattle University.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2007
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