“No, babe, I have never heard that. Let me Google it right quick.” Those were the words I spoke to my dear bride last night when she asked me if I had ever heard Snoopy’s Christmas, usually just called the Snoopy Versus The Red Baron Christmas Song.
Just a minute or two later I was both grinning and fighting back tears. Yes, I know that makes me sappy. But listen to it yourself sometime and see how well you do. The lyrics alone cannot do it justice without the excellent drum cadence in the background, but here are the words.
“The news had come out in the First World War, The bloody Red Baron was flying once more.
“The Allied command ignored all of its men, and called on Snoopy to do it again.
“T’was the night before Christmas, and 40 below, when Snoopy went up in search of his foe, he spied the Red Baron, and fiercely they fought, with ice on his wings Snoopy knew he was caught...
“Christmas bells those Christmas bells, ring out from the land, asking peace of all the world, and good will to man...
“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, ringing through the land, bringing peace to 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, mein 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...
“Christmas bells those Christmas bells, ringing through the land, bringing peace to all the world, and good will to man...”
The song was released by a group called the Royal Guardsmen in 1967.
“But it is just a sappy song,” you say, “and if you mean for this to somehow show the power of Christ and Christmas, you might want to produce something more substantive than a novelty tune.”
Fair enough. What say we look to the actual history of WWI, minus Snoopy and the Red Baron? One of my favorite history books out of my extensive collection is “The First World War, A Complete History,” by Martin Gilbert. In it he describes a most unusual Christmas on the front lines in 1914.
“That Christmas, a spontaneous outburst of pacific feeling took place in war zones, as troops of every European army celebrated their Saviour’s birth. For nearly five months the war had been fought with mounting severity. Suddenly, as darkness fell on Christmas Eve, there was, in sections of the front line, a moment of peaceable behavior.”
The guns fell silent. German soldiers walked across toward the British wire and British soldiers went out to meet them. Christmas is a time for gifts; but in the absence of a mall anywhere nearby they exchanged souvenirs, cap stars, and badges. The Brits gave the Germans plum puddings. Detachments of both sides formed a line and a German and an English chaplain alternately read some prayers.
All Christmas day there were songs, games, peace and happiness. One British machine gunner, an amateur hair dresser in civil life, gave a good haircut to a German foe who needed one.
These men agreed on little or nothing, were trying to kill each other one day before, and would go back to it the next day. The war would rage on for the next several years. But on one Christmas day, in the midst of it all, everyone was reminded of the reality of the babe in the manger, the reason for the season, and the hope he gives for the future.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!