My interest in slightly obscure music finds its way into December, too. So, it shouldn't come as a surprise that a few of my favorite Christmas carols are songs that few others -- in my circle of friends, at least -- are familiar with. One in particular may be my favorite Christmas carol that you've never heard.
Belleau Wood tells the story of a Christmas truce in World War I. Living in a world where military resources can be anywhere on the globe in a matter of hours (not to mention the prospect of intercontinental arms), it's hard to imagine a war fought from trenches dug in the dirt. Knowing that suicide bombers and cowardly improvised explosive devices are standard threats to soldiers today, I can barely fathom calling a halt to war and celebrating Christmas in peace.
Oh, the snowflakes fell in silence over Belleau Wood that night
For a Christmas truce had been declared by both sides of the fight
As we lay there in our trenches the silence broke in two
By a German soldier singing a song that we all knew
Though I did not know the language, the song was "Silent Night"
Then I heard my buddy whisper, "All is calm and all is bright"
Then the fear and doubt surrounded me 'cause I'd die if I was wrong
But I stood up in my trench and I began to sing along
Then across the frozen battlefield another's voice joined in
Until one by one each man became a singer of the hymn
Then I thought that I was dreaming for right there in my sight
Stood the German soldier beneath the falling flakes of white
And he raised his hand and smiled at me as if he seemed to say
Here's hoping we both live to see us find a better way
Then the devil's clock struck midnight and the skies lit up again
And the battlefield where heaven stood was blown to hell again
But for just one fleeting moment, the answer seemed so clear
Heaven's not beyond the clouds, it's just beyond the fear
No, heaven's not beyond the clouds, it's for us to find here
Joe Henry, Garth Brooks
(Here's the link to the song if the embeded player doesn't load.)