An illustration of the 1914 Christmas Truce from The Illustrated London News.
Caption
An illustration of the 1914 Christmas Truce from The Illustrated London News.

Atlanta-based folk musician and multi-instrumentalist John McCutcheon has had a long career of writing and performing folk music all over the world. One of his songs, though, holds a special place in the canon of Christmas music.

“Christmas in the Trenches,” released in 1984 on the album Winter Solstice, tells the true story of the 1914 Christmas Truce, an unofficial ceasefire and celebration along the western front of World War I on Christmas Eve. Through the eyes of the fictional British soldier Francis Tolliver, McCutcheon weaves the story of the night soldiers came out of their trenches, exchanged souvenirs from home, and played a game of football.

McCutcheon joined On Second Thought to share the story of the song, the initial inspiration, and why he decided to make a children’s book based on the song.

'On Second Thought' host Virginia Prescott speaks with John McCutcheon.

“I think this is a story that children ought to grow up knowing,” McCutcheon said, “[The book] gave me an opportunity … to expand upon the context of all of this for those kids and those families for whom the book and or the song raised questions.”

McCutcheon will be performing at Eddie’s Attic on February 1, 2020. You can find more information about his music and tour dates at his website.

 

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