08 December 2009

Second of Three Peaceful Christmas Songs

Maybe you have never heard the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914.  It is a true story, sometimes told with an exaggerated sentimentality, but incredibly poignant and miraculous.  I suggest you read it, here.  On Christmas Eve, in 1914, in the trenches of World War I, German and British soldiers spontaneously called a truce and suspended fire to fellowship, gather the dead, exchange gifts, and be human beings instead of cannon fodder for a few days.  The story is just devastating to me, but I tend to dwell overmuch on WWI, perhaps.  I can't watch movies about it because I get too despairingly sad.  So I have never seen the movie Joyeux Noel (2005), because, man, how depressing is that?  I mean nice. It's a nice story.  Nice stories are even harder for me to take sometimes than flat out misery.
Snoopy's Christmas (watch it below!!) is one of a series of novelty songs by the Royal Guardsmen inspired by Snoopy's imaginary adventures fighting the Red Baron in the comic strip Peanuts.   I think I can trace my weird nostalgia about WWI to the Peanuts show about Flanders Fields and these songs, which felt strangely imaginary to me until I discovered they were real as an adult.  I particularly love this song- the chorus is so sweet and catchy:

Christmas bells, those Christmas bells 
Ring throughout the land
Asking peace of all the world
And good will to man

The song parallels the Christmas Truce.  Here's the words:

Was the night before Christmas, 40 below
When Snoopy went up in search of his foe
He spied the Red Baron, fiercely they fought
With ice on his wings Snoopy knew he was caught.

The Baron had Snoopy dead in his sights
He reached for the trigger to pull it up tight
Why he didn't shoot, well, we'll never know
Or was it the bells from the village below. 

Christmas bells, those Christmas bells
Ring throughout the land
Asking peace of all the world
And good will to man

The Baron made Snoopy fly to the Rhine
And forced him to land behind the enemy lines
Snoopy was certain that this was the end
When the Baron cried out, "Merry Christmas, my friend!"

The Baron then offered a holiday toast
And Snoopy, our hero, saluted his host
And then with a roar they were both on their way
Each knowing they'd meet on some other day.

It was in fact the Germans who sent a chocolate cake into the Allied trench that initiated the truce.   It's too much, really.  Like Christmas.