Not long after we arrived in Rehoboth, Bruce and I started dreaming and scheming about ways we could introduce this community to new worship styles. We stick pretty close to our traditional four-part worship on a Sunday morning, but there are so many other amazing ways to worship out there!
Bruce has traveled to Taizé twice and this worship style has always been one of his favorites. He approached the Deacons in the fall of 2016 and asked if they would give him their blessing to start a monthly Taizé worship service at RCC. We kicked it off that December and have been going strong for over a year! We typically meet on the last Sunday of the month at 7pm. It isn’t a hugely attended service, but we have always said that we do it as much for us as we do for everyone else. We have had anywhere from 4 to 18 people and generally average around 10. We usually have a few regulars with one or two new attendees every month. People have said to us they really enjoy the format – even if they aren’t able to make it work every month, they would like for us to continue, if possible.
There are essentially four components to putting together the service: 1. the order of worship, 2. silence 3. music & 4. the worship space.
Order of Worship
Let me start with the order of worship. We follow a format very similar to what you will find in Taizé, but we do a slightly abbreviated version. We want to keep the service around 40 minutes. Here is the typical order.
Prayers of Intercession & Lord’s Prayer
Typically, I follow whatever passages fall in the Revised Common Lectionary that day, so it’s easy for me to decide what Psalm and Gospel passage are read. Occasionally, I will deviate slightly (the service before Christmas, I used the birth narrative, when we were getting close to the beginning of Lent, I used the Ash Wednesday passages, etc.), but for the most part following the lectionary makes it simple for me to put together the services quickly.
Speaking of which – for the prayers of intercession, since I am following the lectionary, I just pull the prayer out of this worship resource:
The Feasting on the Word Worship Companion series are my go-to for this! There are two volumes per year, so when you are building your collection you don’t have to buy them all at once, which is nice. They also come with a CD-rom, which is nice because then I can just copy and paste into my worship script (although I know CD drives are becoming a thing of the past – I have other worship resources that have a link to download the resource, which is even better!).
For the benediction, I usually use the old Celtic blessing:
May the Christ who walks on wounded feet
walk with you on the road.
May the Christ who serves with wounded hands
stretch out your hands to serve.
May the Christ who loves with a wounded heart
open your hearts to love.
May you see the face of Christ in everyone you meet,
and may everyone you meet
see the face of Christ in you.
Go in peace! Amen.
I do put together an order of worship, mostly so people can see the music and follow along with the scriptures if they’d like. Some protestant New England habits die hard – bulletins are one of them.
From the very beginning, we’ve been very transparent about the fact that a big piece of this service will be silence. We started with 5 minutes, then 7, then 8, then 10, then 12 and now consistently have 15 minutes of silence each month. We probably won’t go much longer than that – otherwise the services will start to go longer than 40 minutes.
Bruce has been unapologetic about the fact that this service just is not for everyone. If you don’t like silence or can’t sit still for 15 minutes of silence, this is probably not a service for you and that’s okay! The youngest we’ve every had at one of these services is our high school youth. I actually feel weird talking about this, because I’m so adamant about welcoming children (and all of their boisterous chatter) in our Sunday morning worship, but we want to keep the experience as authentic as possible and this is a service that just would be tough for young children. We used to bring Harrison to help us set up and then one of us would take him home; now he has a 7:00 bedtime so either one of us stays home or we have someone babysit.
Onto music …
One day, we would love to have a worship leader for this service. Love, love, LOVE to have a worship leader who leads the singing and accompanies on the piano. Live is always better.
However – for the purposes of getting it off the ground, we knew canned music was the way to go. That has worked for us for the time being. We hook one of our phones up to one of the nice portable speakers the church has (turn it on airplane mode!) and then just sing along. The advantage to this is that people who attend don’t have to sing if they don’t want to – and if they choose not to, there is still plenty of music to fill the space.
Bruce and I have Amazon Prime, so we have access to a lot of Taizé music through that and that’s typically where I get the music from. But you could certainly get away with buying one or two albums and just cycling through those songs. These are two we use a lot:
The songs are 3-5 minutes each. Hopefully within a year or so I can update you on using live music, but for the time being this is a really easy way for anyone to get started! We use three songs a month and I only ever introduce one new song a month; a lot of the time, I just use songs we’ve already done. I kind of think that one of the allures of Taizé worship is that it’s easy to follow and participate in, so having a small repertoire of music that you recycle and people know helps to create that.
Some of our favorites:
In The Lord I’ll Be Ever Thankful
In God Alone
O Lord, Hear My Prayer
Bless The Lord
Jesus, Remember Me
This is probably my favorite part! Our services take place in Fellowship Hall, so we really have a lot of flexibility in terms of creating a worship space. I have a closet full of fabric, candles, stools, basins, etc. I usually stick with colors appropriate to the church year and sometimes will match the installation to the Gospel story. Here are some of the installations we’ve done lately …
I have a tendency to go all out sometimes, but you really don’t have to. You could do a simple setup on a table that all of your chairs are centered around. Like I mentioned before, we use Fellowship Hall, so I usually set up two rows of chairs in a semi-circle around the altar. We turn off the overhead lights and use candles, the overhead lights on the stage and a few stage lights we have behind us to give us enough light.
Okay, I think that’s it! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out! If you’d like for me to email you an actual sample order of worship, I’m happy to do that, as well! I’m going to go back on my instagram posts and hashtag them #taizéatRCC so you can search my posts that way, as well!