Christmas in the Trenches

by Nuala Kennedy

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A folk song commemorating The Christmas Truce held during the first World War 1, 1914

The Christmas Truce was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914. In the week leading up to the holiday, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In some areas, men from both sides ventured into no man's land on Christmas Eve, to mingle and exchange food and souvenirs. Several meetings ended in carol-singing.

Christmas in the Trenches - Written by John McCutcheon (Appalsongs, ASCAP) Performed by Nuala Kennedy (PRS/MCPS)

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released December 15, 2014

Performed by:
Nuala Kennedy - vocals
Jake Charron - guitar
Pete Harvey- cello
Shane Cook - fiddle
Daniel Lapp - trumpet

written by John McCutcheon
arranged by Nuala Kennedy
video art and film work by Ruth Barrie (

Produced by Nuala Kennedy
Recorded, mixed and mastered by Adam Berg at Manifest Music, Santa Monica.

Adam is currently nominated for a Grammy for his work as a producer on Mindi Abair’s album ‘Wildheart’ (featuring Booker T, Gregg Allman, Joe Perry, Trombone Shorty, and Keb Mo).
Nuala is currently nominated as Top Solo Performer of the Year in the Irish Music Awards.



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Nuala Kennedy Edinburgh, UK

Traditional Irish singer and flute player.

“vital and original" Songlines

“fearless of the unknown” The Irish Times

'minimal, decorative and utterly beautiful' Culture Northern Ireland
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Track Name: nualakennedy, nuala kennedy, nuala, - Christmas in the Trenches
“Christmas in the Trenches”
Comp. John McCutcheon Appalsong (ASCAP)
As performed by Nuala Kennedy, December 2014

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

It was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung.
The frozen field of France were still, no Christmas song was sung.
Our families back in England were toasting us that day,
Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

I was lyin' 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 singin' bloody well you know", my partner says to me.
Soon one by one each German voice joined in, in harmony.
The cannons rested silent. The gas cloud rolled no more.
As Christmas brought us respite from the war.

As soon as they were finished a 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,
As in two tongues one song filled up the 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 plain so bright
As he bravely strode, unarmed, into the night.

Then one by one on either side walked into no-mans-land
With neither gun nor bayonet we met there hand to hand.
We shared some secret brandy and wished each other well
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 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 wondrous night
"Whose family have I fixed within my sights?"

It was Christmas in the trenches where 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 crumbled and were gone for ever more.

My name is Francis Tolliver. In Liverpool I dwell.
Each Christmas come since World War One I've learned it's 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.

No 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.