Taizé is a monastic community located in Taizé, France, founded in the 1940s by a Swiss named Roger Louis Schütz-Marsauche, familiarly called Brother Roger. The “brothers” of Taizé have taken a vow of celibacy and are committed to a lifetime of simplicity, service, and community. There is an ecumenical emphasis at Taizé, as expressed in their official website, which says the community “wants its life to be a sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and between separated peoples.” Brother Roger was especially eager to bring Catholics and Protestants together.
The contemplative worship practices of the Taizé community are promoted at an annual international conference. Taizé worship is being incorporated in a wide variety of churches, Protestant and Catholic, and its pattern of devotion is emulated in other monastic communities around the world.
A Taizé worship service involves sung and chanted prayers, meditation, a period of silence, liturgical readings, and icons. There is no preaching. The style of prayer practiced at Taizé has attracted many worshipers from around the globe and from many different denominations. The prayers consist of “short chants, repeated again and again,” according to an introduction in a Taizé songbook. “The words are sung over many times.”
There are several problems with the Taizé style of worship. Contemplative worship, in general, seeks a subjective spiritual experience apart from the objective truth of God’s Word. Also, Jesus specifically forbade repetitive prayer (Matthew 6:7), and the prayers of Taizé are purposefully repetitive. The use of icons and the ecumenical nature of the movement are also problematic.
In short, a Taizé worship service is an unbiblical attempt to connect with God. Scripture says that faith comes by hearing, and hearing comes by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), yet the Taizé model dispenses with preaching. Rather, it relies on idolatrous images, repetitive chants, and mystical experience to manufacture a sense of unity and peace.