June 19, 2014

Psalm 117

Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol Him, all peoples!
For great is His steadfast love toward us;
 and the faithfulness of the Lord endures for ever.
 Praise the Lord!

This is the shortest of all the psalms, with only two verses. I can’t read it without hearing the powerful Taizé chant sung in Latin (link below), Laudate Dominum omnes gentes, Alleluia!


Taizé is the ecumenical Christian community of monastics—Protestant and Roman Catholic—founded by Brother Roger (Schutz) in France in 1940, during the Second World War. After the war it served thousands of refugees and then became a place of pilgrimage for youth. The brotherhood now numbers one-hundred. Every summer the community welcomes 100,000 youth from around the world and from many churches, including some Orthodox. The focus is simplicity in following Christ and living according to the Gospel. Brother Roger was murdered by a deranged woman in 2005 at the age of 90 during one of the services.

Taizé brothers in Moscow

Orthodox visitors have included Metropolitan Nikodim (Rotov), who donated the large icon of the crucified Christ that is prominent in worship services at Taizé. Patriarch Alexis II, Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk also visited. Brother Roger was also invited to visit Russia on two occasions, as did his successor, Brother Alois. Since 1990 the Taizé international and European gatherings have included youth from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, and Serbia. As Brother Alois said, “Their presence provides many young adults from other countries with a living witness of Orthodoxy. The Taizé Community has never wished to organize a youth movement around itself. On the contrary, it encourages the young when they return home to commit themselves in their own countries and cities and in their own parishes. The young Orthodox are often accompanied by a priest. It is important for us that this participation receive the blessing of the bishops. During the summer, the Orthodox liturgy is celebrated two or three times each week.”

I’ve never been to Taizé, but in 1987, when I was living in Australia and serving my first parish, I was given a tape of their singing and it left a lasting impression.

To hear the Taizé “Laudate Dominum” sung at one of the European youth pilgrimages (in Rotterdam): www.youtube.com/watch?v=xbG3FS8EEvI.

To learn more about the life of the Taizé community see vimeo.com/10433263.