Mem­bers of the At­lantic Boy­choir re­flect on what they learned while pre­par­ing for the ‘Christ­mas Truce’ con­cert

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - LOCAL -

“War is un­like any­thing that I can imag­ine as a 14-year-old boy liv­ing in New­found­land to­day. Many of the sol­diers in WW1 were only a cou­ple of years older than me when they wit­nessed the hor­rors of war and that is hard to fathom. The story of the Truce shows me that mu­sic, how­ever, is more pow­er­ful than the weapon of war. The gen­tle melody of “Stille Nacht” brought sol­diers to­gether on that Christ­mas Day in 1914. At that mo­ment, the mu­sic reached their hearts and their souls and took them to a place where peace was pos­si­ble, even if only for one song. It is the ca­pac­ity of mu­sic to break down bar­ri­ers that amazes me most. In our world, we only seem to talk about our dif­fer­ences and this story re­minds us that with mu­sic, there is hope that the im­pos­si­ble can be pos­si­ble, and there can one day be peace be­tween borders.”

– Jack White, 14

“The songs that I’ve learned with the At­lantic Boy­choir have taught me about what hap­pened dur­ing the Christ­mas Truce. On the first Christ­mas of World War One, the Ger­mans and the Al­lies started singing Christ­mas car­ols in their trenches. One of the sol­diers de­cided to leave his trench and crossed No Man’s Land, over to the other side, to give Christ­mas greet­ings. All sol­diers then pro­ceeded to take a break from fight­ing, gifted each other food and other sup­plies and cel­e­brated Christ­mas in peace. They even had a few friendly games of soc­cer. It’s amaz­ing what mu­sic was able to do on that his­toric day, 104 years ago. It pro­moted peace among sol­diers full of con­flict and brought them to­gether. To­day, mu­sic still has an ex­tremely pow­er­ful im­pact on peo­ple of all ages and from dif­fer­ent back­grounds. It can reach mil­lions and it brings us to­gether as one. Be­ing in the At­lantic Boy­choir has taught me this and so much more.”

– Keiran Hamill, 13

“I’ve learned a lot about war while pre­par­ing for our per­for­mance of the “Christ­mas Truce.” You can learn a lot from re­search but mu­sic con­veys emo­tions in a way that noth­ing else can. Through learn­ing this mu­sic, I feel that I have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of how the sol­diers felt, go­ing off to war to bravely de­fend their coun­try. I can bet­ter ap­pre­ci­ate the sac­ri­fice of the sol­diers and how dev­as­tat­ing it must have been for all the peo­ple wait­ing at home, to see if their hus­bands, sons, broth­ers and cousins and un­cles would re­turn home to them or if their names would be added to the long list of the dead. The “Christ­mas Truce” is par­tic­u­larly mean­ing­ful to my­self and my fam­ily as I had nu­mer­ous rel­a­tives fight in WW1 and WW2. I also re­cently had the hon­our of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Trail of the Cari­bou pil­grim­age in France and Bel­gium where I walked in my rel­a­tives’ foot­steps where they fought and where one rel­a­tive Ge­orge Brock­le­hurst died in bat­tle. The “Christ­mas Truce” is a trib­ute to all those who didn’t re­turn.”

– Evan Nat­sheh, 14

The Christ­mas truce; a time of peace and beau­ti­ful friend­li­ness, in the midst of one of the blood­i­est and most hor­rific wars in re­cent his­tory. One beau­ti­ful snowy Christ­mas Eve two sides lay down their guns, climb out of their trenches and have a ser­vice. They sing, con­nect, and are happy. Christ­mas and song have brought them to­gether. Christ­mas and song have al­lowed peace in the most grue­some con­flict of all. Now we, 104 years later, join in song to re­mem­ber this beau­ti­ful mo­ment. As we sing in “Flan­ders Fields” we will re­mem­ber the cru­elty of war. As we sing the Psalm 23 we will re­mem­ber how “although [we] walk through death’s dark shad­owed vale, yet will [we] fear no evil.” We will re­mem­ber how there are dark times, yet with the right at­ti­tude, and in the spirit of song, a light can start to break through the shad­ows. We will fear no evil. One boy joins with other boys, one man joins with other men. Although times are dark, the songs of the Christ­mas sea­son can bring us to­gether. We can put away our weapons and sing to­gether.

– Wil­liam Bruce Robert­son, 16

Dur­ing war, the sol­diers had to live in very hard con­di­tions. They had min­i­mal shel­ter food and wa­ter. They did not have their fam­i­lies to com­fort them. All they could do to com­mu­ni­cate was send lit­tle notes home. It is not too com­fort­able sleep­ing out­side ev­ery evening in the cold. Imag­ine how cold they would be in the win­ter­time with no blan­kets. Sleep­ing would be bru­tal. Think about how much bet­ter their lives would be liv­ing in peace and not at war. None of them re­ally wanted to fight. But Christ­mas Day some­thing mag­i­cal must have hap­pened. A sol­dier came out un­armed and said, “Let’s put aside our guns and en­joy Christ­mas to­gether.” So, they ex­changed their lit­tle gifts they had and en­joyed Christ­mas in peace. Imag­ine if they had peace more of­ten, their lives would be much bet­ter.

Now think how lucky you are to have shel­ter, heat, food, wa­ter and most im­por­tantly peace and to cel­e­brate Christ­mas with fam­ily and friends in peace.

– Jack Thoms, 12

That peo­ple in the war got to­gether on Christ­mas day and it didn’t mat­ter what lan­guage they spoke, for many years ev­ery Christ­mas Day they would stop fight­ing, but when Christ­mas Day was over they would start the war again. If only ev­ery day could be peace­ful like Christ­mas Day. Stop­ping gun­fire cre­ates peace. The words in the song make peo­ple feel happy and joy­ful.

Th­ese songs bring fam­ily and friends to­gether, which cre­ates a peace­ful world. Hear­ing th­ese songs rep­re­sents Christ­mas, which gives the world a day to have peace.

– Nash Bil­lard, 10

Evan Nat­sheh

Jack White

Nash Bil­lard

Keiran Hamill

Wil­liam Robert­son

Jack Thoms

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