Vespers Part II


As I sit in my pew in the dark, silent church, I look to the front. The high wooden lectern stands empty, as do the carved wooden chairs ringing either side of it.  Vespers service happens on the floor below, level with the congregants.  The singers sit in a semi-circle of simple folding chairs behind a low table holding a shallow bowl of lit votives. (These are real wax and fire.)  The minister is among them but only present to welcome, not to preach.  One lay leader has brought a reading.  But the business of our Vespers is song. Song alternating with silence.  Song alternating with silent meditation, and song as meditation.

This church has adopted the Taize form for these once a month evening services.  Taize was begun by a monastic community in France.  It can be used by any denomination, I think.  Simple songs are sung, with only one, two or three lines, in a medium range reachable by everyone, and they are sung over and over and over.

Tonight we sing:

De noche iremos, de noche  

Que para encontrar la Fuente

Solo la sed nos alumbra

(By night, we hasten in darkness

To seek for the living water,

Only our thirst lights us onwards.)

A single voice sings it once.  The rest of the ring of singers in front take it up.  The instruments enter and swell.  Tonight it is simple piano, a guitar, and a sturdy single drum, but they are filling my ears. We in the pews sing when we are ready.  Sometimes a clear voice will rise above the others.  Sometimes a round will form.  Over and over the verse is sung.  You no longer need the program because the words are coming to your lips easily.

There is no need for a signal to cease.  No gesture, as many have their eyes closed, singing. The instruments fall away, the voices become softer, and everyone can tell when it is the final verse, and everyone quiets back to silence.

To be continued.

4 thoughts on “Vespers Part II

  1. My church’s new preacher had a Taize form for a prayer service a few months ago. It was so beautiful and good for my soul. I walked out of there feeling so much more at ease and connected spiritually. And the music itself is soothing.


  2. I like this format you are trying with the “to be continued”. I wonder if you know where you are going with it, or if you are writing “from scratch” every day. I went back and read the first part and am wondering if you are going to get back to the police activity at the Psychiatric Institute.
    There is an interesting tension between the quiet, meditative nature of Vespers and the uncertainty of the outside world.


  3. I like how your description is so clear. My eyes are moving around the church, seeing what you see. Then just 3 powerful lines sung. I like the last line bet: Only our thirst lights us onwards

    That line takes me back to yesterday’s piece – it seems you are thirsting to go on despite all around you outside.

    And another To be continued!
    As reader’s I do think we want to interact with what is being read and your series of pieces adds a bit of mystery – what will happen next. And a day to linger and think about writing the next part along with you.

    In a world where everything today is so fast and instantly shared, I like that you are giving me the chance to take it slow. And I guess that is even why YOU went to Vespers, to have a chance to take it slow!


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