“Listen, Fritz is singing to us.”
Across the pitted mounds of No Man’s Land
the gentle blending of a male voice choir
hushed, and reverently sweet and sad
gave Stille Nacht instead of rifle fire.
“Come all ye faithful,” Englishmen replied,
and found the German voices had joined in
“Venite adoremus,” strong and clear.
Loyalties and faiths were fused as one.
Ignoring language, everybody knew
some message without words had been received,
more primitive than language, swift as thought.
Who was that lonely figure standing high
tempting man to shoot him down,
silhouetted, stark against the sky?
“Tommy,” he called, “A Happy Christmas to you.”
Everybody knows what happened next,
how one man’s voice had neutralised a war,
how both sides fraternised in No Man’s Land
and shared a trust that one had dared before.
It took two days to reassert command.
Then Brass hats drove both trenches back to war,
for soldiers only had their lives to lose,
their officers had wealth they valued more.