Chants, prayers mark new Taizé-style service |

Chants, prayers mark new Taizé-style service

From left, flautist Becky Decourten, guitarist Pastor Eileen Smith Le Van and vocalist Judy Kenney play music during the Taizé-style prayer service.
Photo by Trina Kleist


WHAT: New Taizé-style prayer service. A half-hour of music, candles, chants, prayers & silence.

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday each month.

WHERE: Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley.

WHO: All are welcome. No religious experience necessary.


Candlelight, periods of silence and music from guitar, flute and voice mark the new Taizé-style evening prayer service offered at 6:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley.

Short, simple prayers chanted to sacred, yet easily learned tunes evoke the human yearning for connection to the Divine. For a half-hour, participants step into the mystery in a format inspired by the Taizé monastic community in France.

One example of a sung prayer is the Taizé chant “Dona nobis pacem, Dominie,” with just eight eager words: “Give to us your peace, O Jesus Christ!”

Readings from the Bible keep the focus on God’s word. Peace musicians lead the worship with music sung in harmony.

Then, the mood shifts to active supplication as participants step to a table to light candles and lift up prayers.

“The distinctiveness of Taizé is the simple songs that are repeated frequently,” said Peace’s pastor, the Rev. Eileen Smith Le Van. She’s excited to be offering this short prayer service that will leave participants feeling lifted up and at peace.

All are welcome, regardless of religious tradition or affiliation. Peace’s prayer service coordinates with another Taizé-style worship offered at 6:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month at Nevada City United Methodist Church.

Born during WWII

The Taizé community developed in the early 1940s in the village of Taizé, in German-controlled France. Swiss-born, Protestant founder Roger Schutz sought to form a community of men who would live simply and celibately, in service to God.

Members helped Jewish refugees, ministered to prisoners of war and attended orphans, according to the Taizé website,

“Ever since I was young, the intuition that a life of community could be a sign that God is love, and love alone, has never left me,” wrote “Brother Roger” on the Taizé website before his death in 2005.

The Taizé brothers’ message especially appeals to young people, who gather at the community in the tens of thousands each year, according to news reports.

Music written for the prayer services has become popular in churches around the world — and is used in the service at Peace.

Silence forms a part of those services, but it can be uncomfortable for modern seekers accustomed to constant engagement. In Peace’s Taizé-style worship, short moments of silence invite participants to deepen their engagement with God.

“Silence teaches us that prayer is not only a conversation involving words, but is also a stance of openness and listening for the voice of God,” reads “Worship Formation & Liturgical Resources” from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Peace Lutheran Church is at 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley. Learn more at or call 530-273-9631.

Trina Kleist is youth & outreach coordinator for Peace Lutheran Church; she can be reached at or 530-575-6132.

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