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Christmas in the Trenches Lyrics

Artist: John McDermott
Album: Danny Boy

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

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

I was lying with my mess mates 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 in harmony
The cannons rested silent and the gas cloud 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 thing sang was Stille Nach tis Silent Night says I
And in two tongues one song filled up that sky

There's someone coming towards us now the front line sentry said
All sights were fixed on one lone figure trudging from their side
His truce flag like a Christmas Star shone on the plane so bright
As he bravely trudged unarmed into the night.

Then one by one on either side, walked in to No Mans 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 football game we gave them hell.

We traded chocolates, cigarettes and photographs from home
These sons and father far away from families of their own
Ton Sanders played the squeeze box 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 the question haunted every heart that lived that wonderous night
Whose family have I fixed within my sights.

Twas Christmas in the trenches and the frost so bitter hung
The frozen fields of France were warmed, the 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 forever more.
Oh my name is Francis Tolliver, from Liverpool I dwell
Each Christmas comes since World War I have learned its lesson well
For the one who calls the shots won't be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we're the same


by Ted Ying on 12/23/2008 5:11pm
Actually this was written by John McCutcheon and he should at least be given author's credit. I heard him sing this in concert over 15 years ago and it is still as touching as it was then.
by Michael Kelischek on 12/20/2020 7:00pm
Ted is correct John McCutcheon wrote this song from a story he heard for an album in 1984.

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