This is the piece I love.

This is the Taizé piece that sets my heart and soul free.

This is the Taizé chant that sings not only to what our English verse calls the Holy Spirit but what the Italian verse calls the Creator Spirit. To me, that is the God of process theology, but also the spirit of our own creativity, the creative spark, the part of us that cannot help but imagine and experiment and express our stories through the arts.

Vieni Spirito creatore,
vieni, vieni,
Spirito creatore,
vieni, vieni!

Come and pray in us, Holy Spirit,
come and pray in us,
come and visit us, Holy Spirit,
Spirit, come, Spirit, come.

Ven Espiritu, fuente de vida
Ven, ven, ven Señor,
Ven Espiritu, fuente de vida,
Ven Senor, ven Señor.

Is it any wonder that this is my favorite Taizé piece?

It’s made even more wonderful by a spoken word piece called “Fire of the Spirit” by Ken Herman that I have used more than once; he shared it many moons ago with the UU Musicians Network and I share it here. (When I have done it, the choir has hummed the final chord under the spoken word.):


Fire of revelation, flame of compassion:
Illumine our hearts and kindle our spirits.
Cloven tongues of wisdom:
Rain down on us and unleash our tongues with the Spirit of Truth.

Vieni Spirito Creatore…

Light from uncreated light:
Fill our sight with amazing revelations and new visions.
Fire of the Spirit:
Sear our conscience with zeal for justice.

Vieni Spirito Creatore…

Flame of aspiration:
Move our feet to tread the paths of reconciliation.
Come, Creator Spirit:
Comfort us with the warmth of your eternal love.

Vieni Spirito Creatore…

Come, Creator Spirit:
Unite us with a zeal for communion with all of Creation.
Bless us—convert us—
May we become the Fire!

Vieni Spirito Creatore… repeat song until ready to end.

I love all that this song, and Ken’s words, evoke. I hum this often – more often than you would expect – because it connects me to my creative self and to the mystery of all creation. It calms and engages me. It reassures me and it awakens me. My muse and I find each other in the meditation of these words, beckoning the Spirit come.

This is the piece I love.




You say the words “ubi caritas” to me and my heart sings as I think of the many experiences I have had singing those words. And if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on your perspective), you’ll hear me waxing poetic about the lush music these words are often set to.

I don’t think it’s a mistake – the lyrics, which translate to “where charity and love abound, god is there” ask for a lush, rich, warm accompaniment.

Ubi caritas et amor,
ubi caritas, Deus ibi est.

And this Taizé piece delivers. Again, it’s not my favorite of the Taizé pieces (tomorrow, beloveds, tomorrow)… but it absolutely delivers. It’s another beautiful call to compassion – not just empathy, but the gifts of compassion: the money and things that help others. I love this as an offertory response, as well as a prayer response; as with other Taizé pieces, it should be sung several times so that harmonies emerge along with prayers and revelations.

But not surprisingly, not only is this not my favorite Taizé piece, it’s not my favorite Ubi. (Yes, I’m about to wax poetic.)

You get closer with the setting by 20th century French composer Maurice Duruflé , which I first learned in seminary and had the privilege of singing for the wedding of my dear friends Lindsey and AJ Turner. The Duruflé is gentle, until it soars with angelic precision, a descant floating over the melody until it grounds again, reflecting love within and beyond. Listen here:

But even that is not my favorite, despite its connection to my friends. No, my favorite is another version I learned in seminary, by contemporary Estonian composer Ola Gjeilo. This version has roots in Gregorian chant and early European choral music, yet with something else, something unnameable. The parts weave together intimately, evoking the intimacy of love in all its forms.

And then, at 1:58 on the video (measure 28), a miracle happens. I don’t know how Gjeilo did it, but he managed to compose a miracle, right there in the middle of a piece of choral music. I remember singing this with Glen Thomas Rideout at General Assembly in 2016 (Sunday morning worship), and the look on his face as he conducted that moment told me he felt the miracle too… and so did the rest of the choir, and so did the assembled. Listen for it:

Like I said: Miraculous.

Now I realize not much of this is about the Taizé piece this morning, but I think that the words themselves evoke something of a miracle. I think that when we remember that it is our actions that evoke and represent the love beyond our understanding, new abilities to love emerge. We can always love more, give more, empathize more. These songs help us do that.

We have just entered my favorite section of Singing the Journey: the spot where instead of spreading them out, we get a series of Taizé songs all together.

It’s my favorite section, although individually they’re not all on my list of favorites – not that any of them are bad, but some are beloved more than others. It’s like Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours; there isn’t a bad song on the album (which has to be on most top ten lists), but I like “Songbird” a lot more than “Oh Daddy.”

But I digress. This song is so reassuring in its lyrics and melody; instead of the questioning of When I Am Frightened or the joyful affirmation of Trouble Won’t Last Always (not one of our hymns but wow I am glad I know it and you should go listen to it if you need a little joy, or just want to imagine some UU ministers-in-formation singing the heck out of it in seminary), this one is like a parent holding a scared child, or a reassuring hand while receiving a diagnosis, or the timely snuggle from a purring cat.

Or, as the song suggests, a sense of presence of the Divine, the Mystery, God.

Nada te turbe, nada te espante,
quien a Dios tiene nada le falta.
Nada te turbe, nada te espante,
Sólo Dios basta.

Nothing can trouble, nothing can frighten.
Those that seek God shall never go wanting.
Nothing can trouble, nothing can frighten.
God alone fills us.

Sung in repetition, harmonies emerging naturally, languages mixing, that is the power and beauty of this song and of all Taizé. I for one am grateful for the inclusion of these songs.

One of the Facebook memes going around right now is about memories – namely, asking for people to post memories of you, with a fair bit of delight at the answers. If my friend and colleague Ashley DeTar Birt were to ask, I would be hard pressed to pick just one memory, as our friendship, which began the first week of seminary and continues to this day, is full of great moments.

But the moment I would choose right now would be hearing her sermon “The Prism and the Paint” wherein she used Genesis 1 to search for better ways to talk about light and dark, white and black, good and evil. Using acrylic paints, crystals, and a lamp, she reminded us that the creation story calls day and evening “good” because it is not “void.” As Ashley reminded us, white is the sum of all colors when using light, and black is the sum of all colors when using paints. Light and dark are fullness. Light and dark – whether about the natural world, or our souls, or our skin colors – are good.

This Taizé song, by Jacques Berthier, expresses the fullness of darkness, where we can find sustenance for the journey.

De noche iremos, de noche
que para encontrar la fuente,
sólo la sed nos alumbra,
sólo la sed nos alumbra.

By night, we hasten, in darkness,
to search for living water,
only our thirst leads us onward,
only our thirst leads us onward.

De nuit nous irons dans l’ombre,
car pour decouvrir la source,
seule la soif nous éclaire,
seule la soif nous éclaire.

Di notte andremo, di notte,
per incontrare la fonte,
solo la sete c’illumina,
solo la sete ci guida.

In Dunkler Nacht woll’n wir ziehen,
lebendiges Wasser finden,
Nur unser Durst wird uns leuchten,
nur unser Durst wird uns leuchten.

One of the things I love about the music of the Taizé Community is that it’s meant to be sung in the language you choose; in a Taizé service, you will sometimes hear the words of many tongues crossing over one another in the same rich harmonies. It’s a beautiful thing to experience. And I am glad our Hymnal Commission offered the words in five languages here.

It is beautiful, haunting melody, perfect for a Winter Solstice vespers. (If only I’d gotten to this one last week, cry my clergy friends who led solstice services last night!)

It is beautiful, haunting, and full.

It is good.

For your listening pleasure:

I feel like I should be writing something elegant and insightful and perhaps a bit humorous about Taizé , about glorias, about chants and canons. Just yesterday I spoke of how this practice has never (except around the election) felt like a chore. And truly, the practice itself – singing – has never felt that way.

But some days the blogging – a practice I set up and an expectation I developed – feels less for me and more for you. That’s not a bad thing; our spiritual practices at their best lead us to turn back outward after having turned inward. I love that a personal thing has become a public ministry. I love the research, the thinking, the musing, the writing. I love the comments, even if the discussion gets heated sometimes. I love the friendships I’ve developed because of it and all that I have learned. I love it.

And today, all I want to do is sing this Gloria, over and over, Taizé style (because it is a Taizé piece by Jacques Berthier, after all) and sod the research and musicology and lit crit and theological discussion.

Gloria, gloria, in excelsis Deo!
Gloria, gloria, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Yeah. I’m not gonna write about any of that stuff and just play this YouTube video that has really no good visuals but a gorgeous audio to sing along with.


This Alleluia, by Jacques Berthier, is just gorgeous. It is spirited. It encourages harmony – something we shouldn’t be surprised by, since Jacques wrote music for the Taize community. We have more of his work in Singing the Journey, which makes me very happy.

Alleluia. Alleluia. Alleluia.
Alleluia. Alleluia!

Anyway… not much to say. I learned it and sang it joyfully, even though I mistakenly ran the coffee without grounds the first time. Oops.