An invitation to hope
This Christmas we are holding Silent Night Carols events at sports stadiums all over the country to mark the centenary of the 1914 Christmas Truce – a remarkable event when a carol and football marked a moment of peace.
Prince William, Duke of Cambridge
The Silent Night Carols programme is introduced by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, who is President of the Football Association.
He said: ‘Even in the bleakest of times, Christmas offers peace and hope.This Christmas, the Silent Night carol services are a powerful way to remember the
sacrifice made by so many in the Great War and to celebrate the peace we enjoy.’
Below is the invitation to hope from the Most Rev and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, in the Silent Night Carols programme available free from www.silentnightcarols.org.
On Christmas Day 1914 the guns fell silent on the Western Front as German and British soldiers laid
down their weapons, to exchange greetings, play football and sing carols. But they then returned to
This Christmas 2014 we are invited to leave our defended positions and meet those we might
consider to be our enemies, exchange greetings, make peace and sing carols.
We do this not because of the actions of those soldiers 100 years ago. But because of the
actions of God over 2,000 years ago;as he came to us, at great cost, to bring reconciliation
and peace, joy and hope, life and light. And he came to us not just to bring change for one
day, but for the whole of our lives.
Football in No Man’s Land
Letters from the front-line refer to a game of football played in No Man’s Land on Christmas Day 1914.
The Evening Mail, Newcastle, 31st December 1914 printed this letter On Christmas Day one of the Germans
came out of the trenches and held his hands up. Our fellows immediately got out of theirs, and we met in the
middle, and for the rest of the day we fraternised,exchanging food,cigarettes and souvenirs. The Germans
gave us some of their sausages, and we gave them some of our stuff. The Scotsmen started the bagpipes
and we had a rare old jollification, which included football in which the Germans took part.
The Germans expressed themselves as being tired of the war and wished itwas over.
They greatly admired our equipment and wanted to exchange jack knives and other articles.
Next day we got an order that all communication and friendly intercourse with the ene
my must cease but we did not fire at all that day, and the Germans did not fire at us.’
Although there is no conclusive proof that a match took place, the evidence from letters home suggests that at least one such game was played on the Western Front during an informal truce over the Christmas period. Many letters from the World War One trenches have been collected on the website www.christmastruce.co.uk