Saturday, 12 March 2016

Learning the songs

The bell tower in Taizé
Whilst browsing round the Taizé website the other day, I found a completely new section, well I think it is new, maybe I have just never fully investigated it before.

There has always been a section on how to sing the songs, with the words and sheet music, but I have never noticed that you can listen to each “voice” if you click on the relevant links.

Click on the photo to go to the Taizé website
This is a fantastic resource for anyone wanting to really learn how to sing these lovely meditative songs. There are four voices in most songs and I have always sung along to what I heard as the “female” voice. But being an alto, the songs are often a tad too high for me so I generally sing an octave lower. Listening around me, I am not the only one who does that either. In fact, I have always assumed that the alto voice was just that, the soprano with an octave twist every so often, until I started to investigate a few songs on the website.

Take one of my favourites In Manus Tuas. I listened to all the voices and discovered that I have never actually heard either the alto or the tenor before, the only ones I’ve noticed during a service are the soprano and bass, with the tenor voices doing the same octave twist to the bass tune, that I had been doing with the soprano, but in the other direction. I will certainly be paying much more attention next time I am at a service and I will try and listen out for any real alto singers.

A wall sculpture at Taizé, originally on the church

As you can imagine, a whole new world of songs has opened up for me and just in time for the “season” to start as well. I will definitely be brushing up on my alto skills as that voice gives a completely new dimension to the songs and it is a pity that it is not more dominant. It won’t be long now before the place is swarming with young people and the church will be full again, I’ll be much less conscious of my own voice when there are loads of others around, so who knows I might actually sing the right part for a change!

For accommodation near Taizé click here.


  1. The best way to hear all voices is to join the song practice each day at 2 pm in church I think, It is avaiable for all, one does not have to show a meal ticket ;),and it last an hour or so. Lovely experience, try it out!

    1. Excellent suggestion! I'll definitely go along to that one, thanks.


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