John and I attended a Taize-style prayer service in a neighboring parish yesterday evening. I love this style of prayer, which features short verses chanted or sung repetitively. I find that, as I sing and listen to the words, they seep into my consciousness and spirit. It seems very holy and peaceful. It is one of my dreams to visit the Taize community in France some day, and I like to attend this style of prayer when it is offered locally.
The mood in the church was set by low lighting, with lit candles everywhere. It was very beautiful. We were given programs and found seats in the quiet church. The lighting was too dim for me to be able to read the program, but that was fine because I knew that the music would lead me through the service. When the music began, it was easy to enter into the prayer. The songs are so simple and the words are just repeated over and over.
My favorite song of the night was Stay With Me. This video gives a taste of Taize:
The words are
Stay with me, remain here with me
watch and pray, watch and pray.
I love praying with this song. I felt blessed to be sitting in the candle-lit church, singing with people of all ages, hearing voices filling the sanctuary. It was a wonderful, holy moment.
There came an opportunity to offer prayer intentions. We sang a refrain a few times:
Oh, Lord hear my prayer. Oh, Lord hear my prayer. When I call, Answer me. Oh, Lord hear my prayer. Oh, Lord hear my prayer. Come and listen to me.
We were invited to mention our prayer requests out loud. We were told that there was no particular order. Anyone could pray for anything at any time. It was even okay if two people prayed at the same time. With music playing softly in the background, people all around us named their prayer requests. It was so beautiful, so full of emotion. I prayed silently for all of my Lenten companions and felt very close to the people I have been holding in prayer during this season.
As we left the prayer service, I felt extremely peaceful and calm. I felt as if I had taken a step out of the ordinary world and into a sacred time and place. I am very glad that this Taize prayer service was offered during Holy Week. It was an opportunity for deep reflection and prayer before the joy of Easter.