Greenfield Church Offers Taize New Year’s Eve Service
Second Congregational Church of Greenfield is offering a New Year’s Eve service of song, prayer and silence in the Taize tradition. While revelers are planning on blowing horns and lighting fireworks at midnight, worship goers will be learning beautiful chants and enjoying a calming service.
"Taize is an ecumenical prayer service designed to achieve a contemplative state through music, song and silence," explained Joan Vander Vliet, an active member of the Greenfield church.”
This is the fourth New Year’s Eve Taize service the church has offered, inspired by a former pastor who partnered with Joe Toritto, a music teacher and director of the choir at a neighboring Catholic high school. Originally the service involved a volunteer gathering of singers offering songs of hope and healing for the terminally ill, their caregivers and for others who may benefit from the gift of music. “These singers were at first the basic support for Taize services,” said Vander Vliet. “Today that is no longer true. The congregation includes people of many faiths gathering for a service of quietness, prayers, and chants.”
The Taize community website states “singing is one of the most essential elements of worship. Short songs, repeated again and again, give it a meditative character. Using just a few words they express a basic reality of faith, quickly grasped by the mind. As the words are sung over many times, this reality gradually penetrates the whole being. Meditative singing thus becomes a way of listening to God.”
“The church creates a worshipful ambiance enhanced by soft candle light,” said Vander Vliet. “It can be with icons/pictures or other ‘props’ to create an altar.” Vander Vliet also explained that there needs to be a person leading chants as well as a person offering reflections, although one person could perform both duties. She also suggests that newcomers be encouraged to set aside the hour before the service as a time to learn the chants.
The service has been well received by the community and they expect 50-80 people to attend. Both members and non-members feel this is a very special service.
“The service encompasses the same beliefs of the Taize , “said Vander Vliet. “That silence means leaving to God what is beyond my reach and capacity. A moment of silence, even very short, is like a holy stop, a sabbatical rest, a truce of worries.”
And a great way to start the new year.
Joan Vander Vliet can be reached through the church office at (413) 774-4355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.