Worshipping Communities around the diocese ‘trying something different’


 

With so many ways to worship, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to expressing our faith around the Diocese of Leicester. There are countless churches offering an array of styles and services – and there’s nothing stopping us from seeking out new and inspiring opportunities to praise the Lord, our God.

One unique style of worship that has become popular in churches and retreat houses the world over, is Taizé.

This service of prayer through scripture, song and silence is highly meditative and uses simple, musical phrases repeated or sung in canon.

People find the music incredibly powerful, and enjoy the quiet nature of the service, knowing they can join in when they want to, but relax and fall deep into meditative prayer where they choose.

The Taizé community – where this worship originates from – is an ecumenical monastic order with a strong devotion to peace and justice and was founded in 1940 by Roger Louis Schutz-Marsauche (known as ‘Brother Roger’) in the Burgundy region of France.

Closer to home, in the diocese, a growing number of churches are holding their own Taizé-style services throughout the liturgical calendar.

 

Launde Abbey, near Loddington, has been bringing Christians closer to God through Taizé in the chapel for many years.

Once a month, worshipers near and far, come together in Christ by candlelight. For many it’s a deeply moving and meaningful experience. The time afterwards is spent enjoying one another’s company over hot chocolate and cake.

Elaine and her husband, Michael, have been worshiping this way for the last few months.

“We just love it here at Launde,” says Elaine. “It has become our little oasis of calm since Michael has had cancer, and Taizé is our time for reflective worship. It’s also a fellowship thing – it feels like a family here.”

Another couple, Hilary and Brian, find the music particularly beautiful and have made Taizé part of their everyday faith, regularly playing CDs at home. Hilary says: “The chants are very simple, but really get to you. I often feel quite emotional. The more you say something, the more you feel it and the more meaningful it becomes.

“Taizé is another way of expressing my faith and a complementary way to worship, alongside my regular Sunday service.”

Miriam has been coming to Taizé in the chapel for many years. “It’s a fascinating place to do it,” she says. “It’s a space that speaks to you in different ways and I often discover something new here.

“As a service I find it quite meditative, especially with the silent element to it. Silence is really good, you will get something out of it.”

As worship goes, Miriam believes Taizé is very broad and inclusive. “You take your involvement to the level you want to,” she says.

“It’s something that can speak to people who might not be so comfortable in a more traditional kind of service, and very important to my worshiping life.”

 

In Scraptoft, Father Martin Court decided to ‘try something different’ and began Taizé worship in All Saints Church a little more than a year ago now.

“We’re very Eucharistic based, and I wanted to encourage people to explore something different – something that was accessible for those who had no church background,” says Father Martin.

“We started as a one-off in Advent, 2017, and it was actually the folk at church that said, ‘we’d like a bit more of that.’”

The now monthly Sunday evening service is very well received, with between 12 and 15 people regularly worshiping. The record was 32, when they were joined by a walking group. For some of the regulars, Taizé is the only service they come to All Saints Church. It has become their most comfortable style of worship.

 

Over in the somewhat smaller parish of Keyham, Ordinand Paul Emberton has been experimenting with space, silence and the use of Taizé music to connect with people in the village.

Having visited the Taizé community in France, he felt inspired to bring that home and offer a taster as a fringe event in All Saints Church.

“The rural church is very different in that it may only have a small worshipping congregation, but it is also supported by people in the village who do not come to church,” he explains.

“I wanted people to know that, even if they don’t believe, the church is still their space – and a silent space can bring great value.”

Paul ran a series of ‘low key’ 30 minute Taizé services, playing songs from a tape.

“We tried it for six Sundays, with a mixed response,” he explains. “Some weeks there were two or three takers, otherwise I was on my own. I don’t see that as a failure; the people who came enjoyed the silence.”

 

Once a month, a steady number of around 16-20 worshippers come together at St Hugh’s Church in Market Harborough for Taizé.

The service is made up of six chants, two short Bible readings – one from a psalm and one from elsewhere – and ten minutes of silence for prayer and reflection in the middle.

The quality of music is particularly high with a selection of musicians on guitar and lead vocals; violin, viola da gamba and electric bass guitar.

Amateur musician, Quentin Appleton, has been involved at St Hugh’s since the autumn of 2017. He plays the viola da gamba. For some of the pieces, he has even written his own variations: “For me, it’s a sort of ecclesiastical jazz,” says Quentin.

“I like the music, the pensive or meditative aspect and the repetition is rather hypnotic. I find it an antidote to some of the more superficial type of “songs” that we get in church life at the moment – but that is just a personal view and I know not shared by all.”

 

There are many other churches practicing Taizé across the diocese. Is it something you’ve considered exploring as a disciple? Would you benefit from the peace it offers in the busyness of everyday life? Why not make Taizé part of your everyday faith.




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