Images from Christmas in the Woods

Yesterday, I went to the Riverside-Salem Environmental Chapel for the annual Christmas in the Woods program. It features song leaders Nan Hoffman and Kathy de Loughry, as well as guitarist Joe Tumini. Nan and her friends share their music twice a year at Riverside-Salem: Christmas in the Woods celebrates winter and Christmas and Music in the Woods celebrates the outdoors and summertime. 

Kathy and and Tom DeLoughry both enjoy sharing folk songs with Nan Hoffman.

We were given song sheets when we arrived (with our food for the potluck supper!) at Riverside-Salem. Nan asked for song requests. People called out the names of some of their favorite Christmas songs.

One of the most touching songs of the evening was not on our songsheet. It was called “Christmas in the trenches,” and it is based on the story of the 1914 Christmas truce during World War I. Nan sang that song to us.

Here is a link to the song’s lyrics:

click here for lyrics of “Christmas in the Trenches” by John McCutcheon.

Here is some of the history behind the song:

The Christmas truce was a series of unofficial truces that occurred on Christmas of 1914. Soldiers that night stopped fighting. In some areas, both British and German soldiers sang songs together, exchanged photographs and cigarettes and chocolate, and played late-night soccer matches. In other areas, it was German and French soldiers who sang together, shared photographs and other small gifts, and played soccer.

The Christmas truce was a brief respite from a horrific war. I looked up the Christmas truce in Wikipedia and found this very heart-rending quotation:

Alfred Anderson (from Scotland): “I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence. Only the guards were on duty. We all went inside the farm buildings and just stood listening. And, of course, thinking of people back home. All I’d heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking, and whining of bullets in flight, machine gun fire, and distant German voices.  But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted ‘Merry Christmas,’ even though nobody felt merry. The silence ended early that afternoon and the killing started again. It was a short peace in a terrible war.”

According to Wikipedia, there was also a Christmas truce on the eastern front, between Russia and the Austro-Hungarian empire. Like the meetings of enemy soldiers on the western front, soldiers on the eastern front also met in no-man’s land. I don’t know what those soldiers did on no-man’s land or what they shared.

Joe Tumino playing the guitar.

We sang a great variety of songs, including “We wish you a merry Christmas” and “O Holy Night.” One of the most fun songs is “The Twelve Days of Christmas” because we stand and do little dance moves, as well as sing. 

It snowed yesterday, so this snow human looked happy. If it snows a bit more, there will be enough snow to use to build bigger snow humans outside.

Trying to decide what song to sing next, as well as what rhythm instruments to play.

Tom DeLoughry listens to Kathy DeLoughry sing lead on one song.

Kathy shares a song with the group.

Interesting and unusual way to play the bells.

Our last song for the evening was “Silent Night.” The lights were switched off, leaving only the colorful Christmas lights to offer illumination. We sang “Silent Night” in harmony and with a sense of the joy of the season.

After we finished singing, we shared a potluck supper and then left Riverside-Salem, walking on a snow covered path on a dark, wintry night.

And now, for a repeat of yesterday’s request: I will post your questions and my responses after I get at least one more question. Please ask any question that you like in the comment section, and, by the end of this week, I will post answers. Thank you so much!

1 thought on “Images from Christmas in the Woods”

  1. That Christmas truce in World War I has become so famous partially because of all the horror that followed. There were localized truces like this during the United States Civil War, too. Here is hoping we will have peace in our country for many, many holiday times to come.

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