Christmas Eve Sarajevo, Two Versions

So this is a beautiful song, one of my favorite pieces. It’s up to you which version you choose. There’s the Trans-Siberian Orchestra version, which is a little more fantasy and wonder and has kittens and a very sweet little girl.

And then there’s the Savatage version, used on their Dead Winter Dead album, and it has war and a love story.

That’s the album that started me toward becoming a peacekeeper. I won’t say pacifist – I think there are times, unfortunately, when a species of war is necessary. But it’s very different from the kind of war we’ve been fighting. It’s the kind of war that helps stop ethnic cleansing and unthinkable violence and allows people to put shattered lives back together, as best as they can, and go on.

I think of this story every Christmas Eve: that there was a war, and a cellist, and a Christmas Eve when the cello stopped, and two people walked away from a war.

And there was a cellist of Sarajevo. He played in the ruins as the war raged round him. He inspired the story of Dead Winter Dead. But his was a happier ending, and hasn’t ended yet.

Vedran Smajlović, in Sarajevo, 1992. Image and caption courtesy Wikipedia.

Vedran Smajlović, in Sarajevo, 1992. Image and caption courtesy Wikipedia.

I think of those who try, in the midst of ruins, to make this world a little better, a little more beautiful, when to those in the midst of those ruins it must seem there’s nothing good or beautiful left in it, and I’m grateful for them, this Christmas Eve.

Little kids and kittens are nice, too. And fantasy, and wonder, and beauty in the dark night, as the music plays, and stories unfold.

Comments

  1. kurt1 says

    Unfortunately the first video isn´t available in germany, because some corporations are stuck in the 20th century. But I love the savatage version, Dead Winter Dead and Handful of Rain got me started in heavy metal. It’s sad, that Jon pronounced the project dead, it’s my favourite band, ever.

  2. lyle says

    This post remineded me of the full version of Longfellows poem Christmas Bells written in 1863:

    I heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,

    and mild and sweet
    The words repeat

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom

    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,

    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,

    And with the sound
    The carols drowned

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,

    And made forlorn
    The households born

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    “There is no peace on earth,” I said;

    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song

    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    “God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,

    With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

    Of course the versus about the Civil War are typically ignored today. but the poem is similar in spirt to the second video.

  3. Bosnia says

    Thou i grew up in an atheist family, never experiencing indoctrination, i developed a strong anti-theism because of the war, recognizing that religion was thing that made us kill each other!