Monday, 24 December 2012

Advent 24 - Christmas Eve - 1914 Christmas Truce - A Silent Night indeed

December 24th

Christmas Eve!

This is a photograph I took of a brilliant painting by Artist Soren Hawkes.
To see more of his fabulous work (which you can buy) go to: http://passchendaeleprints.com

John 1:1-5

The Word became flesh

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
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Click on the arrow to hear Hayley Westenra and Aled Jones sing Silent Night whilst you read the poem

Christmas Eve, 1914 - a silence covered the land as shelling and rifle-fire ceased. Singing was heard from the enemy trenches and a truce was enjoyed, when peace came down at Christmas.

A Photograph of the site today can be found at: http://www.battlefieldsandbeyond.com/2011/12/1914-christmas-truce.html



December 1914



Night turned a clear frost,

the moon’s harsh splendour

veiling the sleeping green.

Belonging to no-one

but those

whose eternal slumber

hopeless strewn

stilled the darkness

between.



Torn fields fell silent,

hushed

and eerily still.

Anguished limbs cradled,

sore, weary bodies

resting on mud

and damp straw.

Wood from trees,

shelled and torn

kindled fires

slowly coaxed into life

on the eve of Christmas morn.



A mouth-organ rendered

a carolling tune.

Flames leapt higher

to warm

frost-fastened mud.

A combatant choir

merried the night

distant gunnery rumbles

accompanying

served to remind.



A radiant host shone

beyond the sleeping green.

Glistening stars of light

danced along enemy lines.

Edging the trenches

with brightness, and then

in a language strange and deep

the singing of carols

echoed

the earlier refrain,

on the eve of Christmas morn.





Sleep was evasive,

in the frozen fields,

until darkness

slowly crumbled away.

In the mist-filled dawn

myriad lanterns

still sparkled and shone.

Then a greeting was called:

Frohe Weihnachten,

A Christmas Day wish

from the adversary.



Grey soldiers moved forward

their hands held no guns,

Maxims were muted,

calumet, quiet;

the fallen had been laid to rest

in the snow dusted earth.

Howitzers were hushed and calm.

Tommys walked out to welcome:

“Come and join our celebration,”

Peace was the holy day’s gift.



An unforeseen barrier

broken down

language of gesture was seen.

The Kaiser’s cigars

for tobacco exchanged.

A button, a belt badge,

offered in trust.

Princess Mary’s puddings

a Eucharist shared,

all around

cold gusts thrilled the air.



Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht

Voices faded and fell back

behind the lines.

Da uns schlägt die rettende Stund
The hour of salvation strikes

for us.

Christ, der Retter ist da!
Christ, the saviour is here.



With gladness they moved,

to sleep soundly that night

gifts and souvenirs

held safe

in frozen hands.

Reminders of sharing

an armistice day;

Friede auf erden,

wohlwollen für alle menschen.

A Christmas Truce, indeed.





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