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A Harvest Festival at the Front

Probably one of the strangest harvest festivals of this strange old world was held last Sunday in a sequestered hamlet at the Front.

The Church was a portable "Nissen" hut, the congregation a dozen Tommies and five officers, the music supplied by a "tinny" piano borrowed from an old chateau.

The interior of the hut was festooned with trailing branches and gaily colored flowers plucked from an old world garden. A few red apples and half a dozen Army loaves completed the scheme of decoration. The padre, wearing South African ribbons, discoursed on life’s seed-time and harvest, and as the strains of "Come ye thankful people, come," filled the hut the mind went back to harvest festivals at home in dear old Blighty in happier times. What a wonderful and comforting thought that loved ones at home were singing the same sweet melody, and the grand old strains were mounting up to Heaven in one great chorus from thousands of tabernacles that autumn morning.

Outside, nature was weeping, Heaven’s tears drenching the sodden earth. The sullen guns boomed and rumbled and spoke clearly the lesson that whatsoever ye sow that also shall ye reap. The seeds of the doctrine of might over right had been sown and the harvest of death was being reaped.

The ray of sunshine as we sang "All is safely gathered in," seemed to be the reminder that this harvest of desolation was preparing the ground for the sowing of gentler seeds—seeds of kindness, right and purity that will produce in due course a harvest of love. Autocracy and militarism shall end and love triumph.

There’s a wonderful spirit underlying this unique festival, and one wondered what effect the dozen lusty voices singing praises and thanks in so desolate a plight would have upon some chronic grumblers in much happier circumstances could they but hear. There’s a lesson underlying. Perhaps next autumn the reaping will have been completed, and the dawn of peace be close at hand.

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Charles E. Palmer, BEF

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