Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pour l'oeuvre du Vêtement du blessé

I played the piano for church this morning. I always enjoy rehearsing with the band, all the little musical humor we share and the good work that goes into preparing to lead in worship on Sunday. I wish everyone in the church could experience a service this way. If only each one could come having thought ahead about the topic, ready to sing the songs and participate in the space and the silence (or if not, be given 3 services to get ready).

Often when the group I play with (yes, we mean it when we say we play together) is scheduled, I get the joy of choosing a few songs for the prelude. Sometimes the group learns something to do together, but my new music book hasn't arrived yet and I was out of fresh ideas for the band. So I poked around in my piano bench and found this piece of music I didn't even know I owned. It is by Claude Debussy and is called Pour l'oeuvre du Vêtement du blessé. It looked simple and sounded lovely so I decided to use it for church. Last night, I finally thought I should look up the title and all the musical terms (Usually musical directions are in Italian, but Debussy wrote all of his terms and titles in French) so I found babelfish and started plugging in words.

Then the literal translation of the title popped up on my screen.

For the work of the clothing of wounds

For a moment, I was breathless. I don't know what I had expected, but it wasn't this. After a bit more research (which required turning my piece of music over and reading the previously-ignored blurb on the back), I discovered that Debussy wrot
e Pour l'oeuvre du Vêtement du blessé in 1915 to raise money for a charity devoted to clothing the wounded from the war. But the image of a piece of music written for the work of the dressing of wounds remained. I pulled out my medley of Deep River with There is a Balm in Gilead and played my own little musical joke. Then our pastor spoke about forgiveness as the antidote to bitterness and gave plenty of time for people to check their spirits for old wounds and to ask God for healing. And we waited for the dressing of the wounds.

I was apprehensive going into this service. Sometimes plans for worship fall into place in a way that is delightful to be a part of, but this service felt like hard work from the beginning. Still, I have done this thing often enough to know that God can (and does) work no matter what I feel, even when doing what he asks seems more like work than play, so I wasn't too worried (well, I was worried I would miss the transition in that third song, but that kind of worry just keeps me awake through 3 services). Still, I smiled at this serendipity, what my friend Jo called "a wink from God."

I pray that this morning was a time for the dressing of wounds; when people found the courage to allow God to open up old hurts, soothe, and bind them up again. And I am grateful to be a part of this work.


Alan said...

I appreciate the work (play) you do to prepare us for and help us participate in worship through song. It is cool little secret about the title of the piece you found.

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