Many people know the name Taizé – either the style of singing or the religious community in France where that style of singing began.
The Taizé community began during the Second World War when a young man, Roger Schütz, made his way from neutral Switzerland to a little village in unoccupied France. He hoped to dedicate his life to prayer and service. He was often able to help poor peasants and refugees fleeing the Nazis. When the village of Taizé was itself occupied Roger escaped to Switzerland.
He returned after the war with a few friends and resumed the life of work and prayer, this time helping German soldiers who had become prisoners.
By the 1970s, society in developed countries was experiencing great change. Many young people were losing interest in institutions, including institutional Christianity. They were however starting to find their way to the little community at Taizé, with some even joining the community.
In 1974 Brother Roger called a ‘Council of Youth’ and 40,000 young people from around the world converged on the remote village. As these visitors returned to their home countries they took he ideas and music of the community with them.
Today the community remains a place of pilgrimage. Each week in summer, approximately five thousand young visitors camp in tents around the village. The atmosphere sometimes feel like any other holiday camp, but three times a day the bells ring and visitors join the community in prayers, bible-reading and singing.
Australian church goers may recognise Taizé songs that have crept into traditional worship services and devotions on Good Friday. According to Theo Byard, few have experienced the full beauty of worship in the style of Taizé, with musicians and cantors leading large numbers of young people in prayer and praise.
Mr Byard is a member of the Melbourne Taizé Network and one of the organisers of Taizé gatherings taking place throughout Australia in October this year.
“There are lots of small Taizé groups around suburban Melbourne,” Mr Byard said.
“In recent years, these groups have formed a network to encourage Taizé worship. The hope of the Melbourne Taizé Network is to create opportunities for people to gather a few times a year to experience the beauty of Taizé singing in larger numbers. Local churches can sometimes feel isolated, especially for younger adults, so opportunities like this can be refreshing and inspiring.”
In October a member of the Taizé community will be visiting Tasmania and Victoria and a number of events are planned. People who are interested are welcome to attend and experience something of the Taizé community for themselves.
For more information go to: http://www.taize.fr/en_article7190.html