Thursday, November 23, 2006

Christmas in the Trenches - An Advent Relection

As we prepare to welcome the Prince of Peace, let's pray and ask God to heal the world of war by changing the desires of human minds and hearts.

This song is based on true events that happened on Christmas Eve 1914. If the actions of these soldiers had been heeded... how different our world would be. Let us heed the peacemakers as we enter the 21st century. Peace!

Christmas in the Trenches

by John McCutcheon

My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool

Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school

From Belgium then 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 this day

Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lying next me 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 singin" bloody well, you know!" my partner says to me

Soon one by one each German voice joins in 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 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 towards 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 shone on that plane so bright

As he bravely strolled 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 began to settle back to war

But a question haunted every heart that lived that wondrous night

Whose family have I fixed within my sights?

'Twas Christmas in the Trenches were 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 comes 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.

* “For every additional second we stay in Iraq, we taxpayers will end up paying an additional $6,300. …“The total costs of the war, including the budgetary, social and macroeconomic costs, are likely to exceed $2 trillion,” Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-winning economist at Columbia, writes in an updated new study with Linda Bilmes, a public finance specialist at Harvard. Just to put that $2 trillion in perspective, it is four times what is needed to put Social Security on a solid footing for the next 75 years. It is four times the additional cost needed to provide health insurance for all uninsured Americans for the next decade (Nicholas Kristof, op-ed, New York Times, Oct. 24, 2006).

“The Father sent the Son into the world to defend the poor.” - St. Augustine


Anonymous John said...

Thanks for your blog, Father. I am sitting here at 4:40 am, can't sleep, and found your blog by accident. The Church needs more spokespersons like you. And that old poem certainly speaks to us across time!

Sat Nov 25, 05:48:00 AM 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I visited Gallipoli, in Turkey, some years back. For New Zealanders it has become a sacred place of pilgrimage, as so many of our young men lost their lives there. Our guide told us something interesting. I am not sure how true it was. But the trenches there were very close together. The guide told us that casualties dropped as the war there progressed. 'Contact' eg sharing of cigarette paper etc, happened across the lines and the two sides had less of an urge to kill one another.

Fri Dec 01, 04:38:00 AM 2006  
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