All Is Calm
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When politicians and generals could not make peace, soldiers did. Choral voices float over the now darkened and quiet battlefield. In a trench, forty yards away, another group of men listen, finding a measure of peace and comfort in the songs of their adversaries.
Cold, filthy, frightened, surrounded by violence, destruction, and all of the sensory terror inherent to the trench warfare of the “Great War,” soldiers in the First World War endured horrors that few contemporary civilians could comprehend. An unlikely setting for a story of hope and compassion, but it was this place that birthed one of the most compelling and uplifting events of the War.
Combatants rarely saw more than the top of a head of their adversaries, but the close proximity of enemy trenches did allow them to hear each other. At night, when the day’s offenses were over, soldiers in the trenches would sing choruses, hymns, drinking songs, anything to lighten their moods and lift their spirits. It was not uncommon to hear enemy troops call for encores from across the “no man’s land” between the trenches or for combatants to take turns singing back and forth over the quieted battlefield. Many of the men on both sides recorded these times in journals and letters, reflecting on them as moments of peace and comfort.
In the days and weeks leading up to Christmas 1914, the drive to fight waned. In defiance of command, soldiers themselves called an unofficial truce. In some places on the Front, this just meant that both sides could collect and bury their fallen comrades; in others, the two sides exchanged small gifts, played games of soccer, and sang songs. For a few weeks in 1914, these two sides saw each other as people and not enemies.
This is the story of All Is Calm. Told through the very letters, journals, and songs of the men who experienced it firsthand, it shows the depths of compassion people can have for one another and how cultural and language barriers can be broken down through the power of music. All Is Calm is a moving portrait of what people can accomplish when we see past politics and agendas to encounter fellow humans on a personal level.
SAM AND CONNIE HOLLOWAY
Tuesday, December 5 at 7:30 PM
Phillips Center »
3201 Hull Road
Gainesville, FL 32611
Orchestra A-P $35
Lower Boxes $35
Orchestra Q-Z $25
Upper Boxes $25
UF Students $10