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Seattle Pro Musica | Silent Night

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Classical: Choral Music Holiday: Classical Moods: Mood: Seasonal
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Silent Night

by Seattle Pro Musica

This CD features holiday choral music from England, France, and Germany, plus readings from soldiers who lived through the Christmas Truce of WWI. Silent Night was recorded live in 2018 and marked 100 years since the end of the “war to end all wars".
Genre: Classical: Choral Music
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. La Guerre ("The Battle", Part 2)
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
4:26 $0.99
2. Yver ("Winter" From Trois Chansons)
Seattle Pro Musica, Marisa Dahlman, Liz Reed Hawk, Casey Glick, Ryan Gao & Karen P. Thomas
2:00 $0.99
3. Reading – It’s an Unending Hell
Jon Repp
0:28 $0.99
4. Reading – The Coldest Winter
Robin Wyatt-Stone
0:20 $0.99
5. Christmas Eve
Seattle Pro Musica, Jenny Spence & Karen P. Thomas
3:35 $0.99
6. Hymn of the Nativity
Seattle Pro Musica, Kayleigh Shaffer & Karen P. Thomas
5:56 $0.99
7. Reading – This Has Been the Most Wonderful Christmas
Rose Morrison
0:34 $0.99
8. Reading – All Down Our Line of Trenches
Elizabeth Sanders
1:26 $0.99
9. Stille Nacht ("Silent Night")
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
2:59 $0.99
10. Reading – We Are Having the Most Extraordinary Christmas
Erin Gabriel
1:22 $0.99
11. Wassail Song
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
2:49 $0.99
12. Reading – They Were Met
Elly Hale
0:39 $0.99
13. Still, Still, Still
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
2:02 $0.99
14. Reading – Really, You Would Hardly Have Thought We Were at War
Christa Phillipson
0:30 $0.99
15. Maria Wiegenlied ("Mary’s Lullaby")
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
3:43 $0.99
16. Reading – On Christmas Day
Charles Robert Austin
0:32 $0.99
17. Here Is the Little Door
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
3:26 $0.99
18. Bethlehem Down
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
3:46 $0.99
19. Puer Natus ("A Child Is Born")
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
2:04 $0.99
20. Reading – Dear Mother
Arvind Narayanan
2:14 $0.99
21. Videntes Stellam ("They Saw a Star")
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
2:46 $0.99
22. Listen, God Is Calling Us to Peace
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
3:45 $0.99
23. Reading – When the Christmas Bells Sounded
Teena Littleton & Geoff Cunard
1:13 $0.99
24. Weihnachten ("Christmas")
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
1:28 $0.99
25. Hodie ("This Day")
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
2:06 $0.99
26. Reading – On November 11, 1918
Karen P. Thomas
1:07 $0.99
27. Alleluya, A New Work
Seattle Pro Musica & Karen P. Thomas
2:09 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
As we celebrate the holidays with "Silent Night", we also commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. In the four years between 1914 and 1918, this immense and horrible war killed or wounded more than 25 million people. Yet there were still rare moments of joy and hope in the trenches of Flanders and France, and one of the most astonishing came during the first Christmas of the war. For a few brief hours, soldiers from both sides on the Western Front spontaneously ceased fighting, emerged from their trenches, and shared a Christmas celebration of food, carols, games, and comradeship.

It’s hard to know just how widespread this Christmas truce was. The most detailed estimate, made by Malcolm Brown of Britain’s Imperial War Museums, found that the truce extended along at least two-thirds of British-held trench line that scarred southern Belgium. In the British sector, troops noticed at dawn that the Germans had placed small Christmas trees along the parapets of their trenches. Slowly, small groups of soldiers from both sides began to venture toward the barbed wire that separated them, until—as Rifleman Oswald Tilley told his parents in a letter home—“literally hundreds of each side were out in no man’s land shaking hands.”

This truce was unofficial and illicit, and leaders on both sides took steps to ensure that it could never happen again. While it lasted, though, the truce was magical, leading the Wall Street Journal to write: “What appears from the winter fog and misery is a Christmas story, a fine Christmas story that is, in truth, the most faded and tattered of adjectives: inspiring.”

2018 also marks the 200th anniversary of the creation and premiere of the beloved carol “Silent Night,” written during an era when all of Europe was in a state of dramatic transition. Political upheavals, the Napoleonic wars, and economic hardships traumatized the peoples of current-day Austria and Bavaria for decades. What’s more, a volcanic eruption in 1815 blanketed most of Europe with many months of a thick fog that caused crop failures, leading to hunger and even more hardship. Against this backdrop, Joseph Mohr and Franz Xaver Gruber composed “Silent Night” in 1816-18. The result was an enduring Christmas message of hope and consolation.

More information, including full texts and translations, is available at https://www.seattlepromusica.org/silent-night-cd.


"It's an unending Hell. I live in a casement at the bottom of the fort with the light on day and night. You can't go out for fear of shell fragments which fall daily into the trenches and onto the fort. In a word, it is solitude in all its horror; when will this veritable martyrdom end?" —Letter from a French soldier in Fort Choisel, June 1916.

“The coldest winter was 1916-17. The winter was so cold that I felt like crying... I didn’t actually cry but I’d never felt like it before, not even under shell fire.” —NCO Clifford Lane

“This has been the most wonderful Christmas I have ever struck. We were in the trenches on Christmas Eve, and about 8.30 the firing was almost at a stand still. Then the Germans started shouting across to us, ‘a happy Christmas’ and commenced putting up lots of Christmas trees with hundreds of candles on the parapets of their trenches.” — Cpl. Leon Harris, 13th Battalion, London Regiment (Kensington)

“All down our line of trenches there came to our ears a greeting unique in war: ‘English soldier, English soldier, a merry Christmas, a merry Christmas!’ ‘Come out, English soldier; come out here to us.’ For some little time we were cautious, and did not even answer. Officers, fearing treachery, ordered the men to be silent. But up and down our line one heard the men answering that Christmas greeting from the enemy. How could we resist wishing each other a Merry Christmas, even though we might be at each other’s throats immediately afterwards? So we kept up a running conversation with the Germans, all the while our hands ready on our rifles. Blood and peace, enmity and fraternity—war’s most amazing paradox. The night wore on to dawn—a night made easier by songs from the German trenches, the pipings of piccolos and from our broad lines laughter and Christmas carols. Not a shot was fired.” —Private Frederick Heath

“We are having the most extraordinary Christmas Day imaginable. A sort of unarranged and quite unauthorized but perfectly understood and scrupulously observed truce exists between us and our friends in front. The funny thing is it only seems to exist in this part of the battle line – on our right and left we can all hear them firing away as cheerfully as ever. The thing started last night – a bitter cold night, with white frost – soon after dusk when the Germans started shouting 'Merry Christmas, Englishmen' to us. Of course our fellows shouted back and presently large numbers of both sides had left their trenches, unarmed, and met in the debatable, shot-riddled, no man's land between the lines. Here the agreement – all on their own – came to be made that we should not fire at each other until after midnight tonight. The men were all fraternizing in the middle (we naturally did not allow them too close to our line) and swapped cigarettes and lies in the utmost good fellowship. Not a shot was fired all night.” — Captain Robert Patrick Miles, King's Shropshire Light Infantry

“... they were met by four Germans, who said they would not shoot on Christmas Day if we did not. They gave our fellows cigars and a bottle of wine and were given a cake and cigarettes. When they came back I went out with some more of our fellows and we were met by about 30 Germans, who seemed to be very nice fellows. I got one of them to write his name and address on a postcard as a souvenir. All through the night we sang carols to them and they sang to us ....” — Rifleman C.H. Brazier, Queen’s Westminsters of Bishop’s Stortford

“Really you would hardly have thought we were at war. Here we were, enemy talking to enemy. They like ourselves with mothers, with sweethearts, with wives waiting to welcome us home again. And to think within a few hours we shall be firing at each other again.” — Gunnar Masterson

“On Christmas Day we were out of the trenches along with the Germans, some of whom had a song and dance, while two of our platoons had a game of football. It was surprising to see the German soldiers — some appeared old, others were boys, and others wore glasses… A number of our fellows have got addresses from the Germans and are going to try and meet one another after the war.” — Pvt. Farnden, Rifle Brigade

Dec 26 1914, Trenches

“Dear Mother,

I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o'clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a 'dug-out' (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary. In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench.

Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn't it? Yes. This is only for about a mile or two on either side of us (so far as we know). It happened thuswise. On Xmas eve both armies sang carols and cheered & there was very little firing. The Germans (in some places 80 yds away) called to our men to come and fetch a cigar & our men told them to come to us. This went on for some time, neither fully trusting the other, until, after much promising to 'play the game' a bold Tommy crept out & stood between the trenches, & immediately a Saxon came to meet him. They shook hands & laughed & then 16 Germans came out. Thus the ice was broken. Our men are speaking to them now.

We had a burial service in the afternoon, over the dead Germans who perished in the 'last attack that was repulsed' against us. The Germans put 'For Fatherland & Freedom' on the cross. They obviously think their cause is a just one.”

—Henry Williamson - private in the London Rifle Brigade

Richard Schirrmann, who was in a German regiment holding a position on the Bernhardstein, one of the mountains of the Vosges, wrote an account of events in December 1915:

"When the Christmas bells sounded in the villages of the Vosges behind the lines... something fantastically unmilitary occurred. German and French troops spontaneously made peace and ceased hostilities; they visited each other through disused trench tunnels, and exchanged wine, cognac and cigarettes for Westphalian black bread, biscuits and ham. This suited them so well that they remained good friends even after Christmas was over."

Military discipline was soon restored, but Schirrmann pondered over the incident, and whether…

"thoughtful young people of all countries could be provided with suitable meeting places where they could get to know each other."

He went on to found the German Youth Hostel Association in 1919.

TRACK 26. ON NOVEMBER 11, 1918…
On November 11, 1918, the Armistice was signed, finally bringing an end to the fighting of World War I. A year later, English soldier and writer Siegfried Sassoon published a poem that captured the joy that so many felt during the peace that followed.

Everyone Sang – by Siegfried Sassoon

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on–on–and out of sight.
Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless;
the singing will never be done.

May we remember those lost to war, and may we always strive for peace.



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