Jesus, Remember Me: A Taize service for Good Friday

Note from the Pastor

We held our first Taize service on Good Friday in 1993. The idea came from my experience in Quincy, Washington, where the local Presbyterian Church hosted a community Taize service every year on the Friday before Good Friday. To prepare our congregation, we explained the concept to the elders, and after their approval placed an announcement in the Palm Sunday bulletin:

"Prayer and Meditation Around the Cross" is the theme of our Good Friday service. The seiyice will be in the Taize tradition, in which prayers are sung rather than spoken. Plan on joining us for this meaningful service of reflection on the power of Jesus' cross.

I also made some comments that morning about the service and the repetitive nature of the songs, and offered a bit of the history of Taize. I must admit, I was more than a little nervous the first time. However, everything went very well. I was surprised at how willing people were to sing rounds and find harmonies. I found myself getting goose bumps at times because of the beauty of the swelling melody and harmonies.

The following service is from 1997. Taize music has been warmly accepted by Peace Church, largely because of our music director's superb job of organizing the musicians. For myself and many others, a real "stillness of the soul" followed the service.

—Thomas J. Kok

Musician's Introduction

This is definitely a musician-led service; if Tom was nervous, you can imagine how/felt. Each time we have done this service, however, I've loved it and felt it was worth all the time spent on it. Preparation is the key. People in the pew can worship best when they are not concerned about musicians who may be unsure of what to do next. We wanted a very quiet and meditative spirit to encourage the people to really pray as they sang. The stillness was enhanced by subdued lighting and several candles.

I played the organ, and we also used a flute, violin, oboe, recorder, and trumpet (the descant parts for these and other instruments are all available in the two-volume collection Music from Taize, available from G.I.A. Publications). The organ always introduced each song, then the choir or soloist would sing it through; as the congregation joined in, we added instruments, usually one at a time. We only included the melodies in the bulletin; choir members had the harmony parts, and the soloists had the additional scriptural stanzas, which were sung between repetitions of many of the songs. (You could also expand the bulletin to include the harmony for everyone.)

Because the instrumental pattern is different for each song, careful planning is essential for this service. Every instrumentalist needs a copy of what to do when (a simple list of the number of repetitions with who is playing on which variation). There has to be some flexibility too, along with the planned pattern. Sometimes I sensed the service was dragging on, so with a shake of my head I indicated that the instrumentalists should finish their part and stop. The organ played alone the last time through each song; that was the congregation's cue that the song would end. People were informed of that in the bulletin, and they seemed to catch on very well.

—Kathryn Van Eck

Bulletin Introduction

Taize is a small village in the eastern part of France. Since 1940 it has been the home of an ecumenical community of brothers where prayer, three times a day, is the center of life. Part of that prayer time is spent in singing short repetitive refrains or ostinatos (a repeated pattern). Thousands of people from around the world visit Taize every year; in fact, during this Holy Week well over a thousand people will be worshiping together at Taize.

Tonight we borrow from the tradition of Taize as we offer our prayers and meditations around the cross. At times there will be cantor parts that the congregation is asked to respond to with the repeated refrain. Feel free to sing some, stop and listen, find harmonies, and sing the rounds.

Each song will be introduced by the organ. Then the choir will sing through the piece one time, and the congregation will join in the second time through. The last repetition of each prayer song will be indicated by the instruments dropping out and the organ playing alone.

THE SERVICE

Welcome and Introduction

Hymn: "Go to Dark Gethsemane" PsH 381, PH 97, TWC 225

Reading: Psalm 27:7-14; James 5:7-8

"Wait for the Lord"
(from Psalm 27 and James 5)

Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:9 (Entrance of the Cross)

"O Poverty"

Remember how generous the Lord Jesus was; he was rich, but he became poor for your sake, to make you rich out of his poverty. 2 Corinthians 8:9

[silence]

Reading: Psalm 130

"All You Who Pass This Way"

(from Lamentations and the Gospels)

Choir will sing through the first time. All respond after stanzas 1-7.

Cantor:

1 Is any sorrow like the sorrow that afflicts me?

2 Women of Jerusalem! Do not weep for me, but for yourselves and for your children.

3 Father, forgive them! They know not what they do.

4 My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

5 Today you will be with me in paradise.

6 I am thirsty.

7 Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.

[silence]

Passion Reading: Luke 23:26-49

"Salvator Mundi"

(Savior of the world, save us, free us.)

The cantor will sing an initial stanza prior to the round. When the instruments drop out, finish your round.

"O Lord, Hear My Prayer"
(from Psalm 102)

[silence]

Prayers and Meditations Around the Cross

During these next songs, please come up to the cross and offer your private petitions. Take as much time as you like. Kneel, sit or stand, whichever feels the most comfortable.

"Jesus, Remember Me"
(Luke 23:42)

"Stay with Me"
(from Matthew 26)

Reading: Psalm 103
"Bless the Lord My Soul"
(from Psalm 103)

Reading: John 14:27

"Dona Nobis Pacem Domine"
(Grant Us Peace, Lord)

Parting Blessing
[Depart in silence.]

All the songs on pages 22-23 are taken from Music from Taize, volumes 1 & 2, © 1978, Les Presses de Taize. Used by permission. For permission to reproduce this music, contact C.I.A. Publications, 7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638; 800-442-1358.

Thomas J. Kok is pastor of Third Christian Reformed Church, Lydnen, Washington.

 

Kathryn Van Eck is music director of Peace Christian Reformed Church, South Holland, Illinois.