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Concert commemorates World War I Christmas truce

British soldiers talk with German soldiers during the famous World War I Christmas truce in 1914. Courtesy photo

By
From page A4 | December 11, 2012 |

Check it out

What: Special holiday concert

When: 4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Episcopal Church of St. Martin, 640 Hawthorn Lane

Admission: Free-will donation

Info: 530-756-0444, info@churchofstmartin.org

Local residents are invited to experience a Christmas concert unlike any other in Davis, at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Episcopal Church of St. Martin. The audience will be transported to a World War I battlefield with a performance commemorating the 1914 Christmas truce.

“Narrated by the son of one of the soldiers who was fighting in France, this moving musical concert is the best way to start the season of peace,” a news release said.

As 1914 drew to a close, The Great War raged across the battlefields of Europe. On Christmas Eve, many of these sites became peace fields as weary German, French and British soldiers laid down their guns and made holiday overtures to each other. The men shared food, drink, mementos, carols, soccer games and prayers.

St. Martin’s music director Gerard Montana has developed and directed a rendition of this bittersweet Christmas story and set it to readings and contemporaneous music that includes: “Smile, Smile, Smile”; “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”; “In the Bleak Mid-winter”; “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”; “French Carol”; “Quelle Est Cette Odeur Agreable?”; “Es Ist Ein’ Ros’ Entsprungen”; “O Tannenbaum”; “Auld Lang Syne”; “Largo”; “O Holy Night”; “Silent Night”; and “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

The music will include the three choirs (and audience) of St. Martin’s, and organ and violin solos. The evening’s narrator, Charlie Bamforth, is the son of one of the soldiers who fought in the battle of Somme in France.

In the words of one of the young soldiers who was on the peaceful front that night: “We had rather an interesting time in the trenches on Christmas Eve. … We were in some places less than 100 yards from the Germans, and had conversations with them across. It was agreed in our part of the firing line that there should be no firing and no thought of war on Christmas Eve and Day, so they sang and played to us several of their own tunes and some of ours … while we did the same for them …

“The singing and playing continued all night, and the next day, Christmas, our fellows paid a visit to the German trenches, and they did likewise … every one, friend and foe, were real good pals.”

Much to the fury of the generals who were commanding from the safety of their desks, many of the soldiers continued the unofficial truce beyond Christmas. With no one shooting, the war stalled on some fronts until mid-January when new soldiers who had not made personal connections with the “enemy” were brought in to resume hostilities.

The concert starts at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 16, at the church 640 Hawthorn Lane in West Davis. A free-will donation will be taken at the door for the Youth Group of St. Martin’s to help fund its summer service project. A festive holiday reception in the Parish Hall will follow the concert.

“We pray for peace in the world so that all war ends, that all the people of the Earth will come to know and appreciate our commonalities more than our differences, that we will understand our interconnections rather than our separation,” the news release said.

For more information, call 530-756-0444 or email info@churchofstmartin.org.

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