Christmas In The Trenches (John McCutcheon) video
See also: Christmas 1914 (Mike Harding)
#457: YouTube video by historyvideos101
©2006 ~ Used with permission ~

Me name is Francis Tolliver,
I come from Liverpool,
Two years ago the war was waiting
for me after school;
From Belgium and to Flanders,
to Germany, to here,
I fought for King and country I love dear.

'Twas Christmas in the trenches,
where the frost so bitter hung,
The frozen fields of France were still,
no Christmas songs were sung;
Our families back in England
were toasting us that day,
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

Well, I was lying with my messmates
on the cold and rocky ground,
When across the lines of battle
came a most peculiar sound;
Says I, "Now listen up, me boys!"
each soldier strained to hear,
As one young German voice sang out so clear.

"He's singing bloody well, you know!"
my partner says to me,
Soon, one by one, each German voice
joined in harmony;
The cannons rested silent,
and the gas clouds rolled no more,
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.

Well, as soon as they were finished
and a reverent pause was spent,
God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
struck up some lads from Kent;
Oh, the next they sang was Stille Nacht.
"'Tis Silent Night," says I,
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky.

"There's someone coming toward us!"
the front line sentry cried,
All sights were fixed on one lone figure
trudging from their side;
His truce flag, like a Christmas star,
shown on that plain so bright,
As he, bravely, strode unarmed into the night.

Soon one-by-one on either side
walked into No Man's Land,
With neither gun nor bayonet
we met there hand-to-hand;
We shared some secret brandy
and we wished each other well,
And in a flare-lit soccer game we gave 'em hell.

We traded chocolates, cigarettes,
and photographs from home,
These sons and fathers far away
from families of their own;
Young Sanders played his squeezebox,
they had a violin,
This curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us,
France was France once more,
With sad farewells we each began
to settle back to war;
But the question haunted every heart
that deep and wonderous night,
"Whose family have I fixed within my sights?"

'Twas Christmas in the trenches
where the frost so bitter hung,
Frozen fields of France were warmed
as songs of peace were sung;
The walls they kept between us
to exact the work of war,
Had been crumbled and were gone forevermore.

Oh, me name is Francis Tolliver,
in Liverpool I dwell,
Each Christmas comes since World War One,
I've learned its lessons well:
That the ones who call the shots
won't be among the dead and lame,
And on each end of the rifle we're the same.

####.... John McCutcheon, 1989 ....####
Contributed by Herman Porter with the following note:
I got this song off the radio a couple of years ago. It seems to be an appropriate song for this time of year and for this site, as Newfoundlanders and, at the time, Canadians served in the British Army. Factual information about this unofficial truce can be found on these sites:

See more Christmas songs from NFLD.


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GEST Songs Of Newfoundland And Labrador


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