Yesterday was one of our twice monthly Taize prayer services at the Law School. Organized by one of our first-year law students, the service incoporates some traditional Taize chants, a scripture reading, and silence.
The purpose behind the repetition in Taize changes was expressed well by Brother Roger of Taize, who wrote
Nothing is more conducive to a communion with the living God than a meditative common prayer with, as its high point, singing that never ends and that continues in the silence of one’s heart when one is alone again. When the mystery of God becomes tangible through the simple beauty of symbols, when it is not smothered by too many words, then prayer with others, far from exuding monotony and boredom, awakens us to heaven’s joy on earth. For many Christians, down through the ages, a few words repeated endlessly have been a road to contemplation. When these words are sung, then perhaps they have even more of an impact on the whole personality, penetrating its very depths.
So one reason for the repetition is simply to allow our minds to sink into a contemplative state.
As I listened to one of the songs, however, I realized that sometimes the repetition is what we need for the simple reason that we need to hear some things over and over again to really internalize them.
My peace I leave you; My peace I give you; Trouble not your hearts;
My peace I give you; My peace I leave you; Be not afraid.
Over and over again, Jesus tells us: “Be not afraid; trouble not your hearts.” And as I hear these lines chanted over and over again yesterday, it is as though I could hear Jesus saying: “Do you get it yet? No? Then I’ll keep repeating it until you do. Trouble not your hearts.” And I could feel myself sink into the security of those words.
Trouble not your hearts. Do not be afraid.