From the chpter "A Matter of Perspective" 
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  The PeaceMaker SiTe  

includes resources for peace education, non-commercial and other news sources from around the world, and links to information on non-violent conflict resolution..

 

Chicken Soup for the Soul Stories for a Better World

from the book

Chicken Soup for the Soul®
Stories for a Better World

Used here by permission ©1984 John McCutcheon

This page created on 10 November 2005

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Christmas in the Trenches
 
My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool.
Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
To 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 song was sung.
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lying with my messmate 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, the gas clouds rolled no more,
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.

As soon as they were finished and a reverent pause was spent,
“God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” struck up some lads from Kent.
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 long 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, and they had a violin,
This curious and unlikely band of men.

Soon daylight stole upon us, and France was France once more,
With sad farewells we each prepared to settle back to war.
But the question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night,
“Whose family have I fixed within my sights?”

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

My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell.
Each Christmas come since World War I, 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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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