As partners of Faith Counts, a multi-religious organization looking to promote the value of faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has participated in the making of a new video that commemorates the Christmas Truce of 1914, which turns 100 this Christmas Eve.
BYU graphic design and animation students helped produce the video, turning the original black and white photos into stunning moving portraits. Students also spent time in Flanders Fields, shooting footage of the landscape today. The rendition of “Silent Night” played in the video is composed, arranged, and sung by the BYU Men’s Chorus. In the United Kingdom, Church leaders are putting on a special Christmas program throughout the month of December for members and non-members alike to commemorate the event.
The official website for the #peaceispossible movement describes the Christmas Truce of 1914:
“December 24, 1914—Christmas Eve—began like so many days that preceded it, with a feeling of doom and gloom all along the Western Front in Belgium and France. Weeks of cold, wet weather left the armies of both the Allies and the Central Powers shivering and seeking refuge in their trenches amidst the wet-then-frozen ground.
Trench warfare was a brutal and savage way to wage war, with constant fear from attacks of artillery, flame-throwers, insidious chemical gas, hand grenades, and hand-to-hand combat with bayonets all along the front line of both sides.
Nothing was left in its wake, as fertile and beautiful farms, fields, and forests were turned to shadowy and barren wastelands. All that remained was a spidery web of catacomb trenches carved into the earth and a no man’s land of barbed wire and bombed out terrain separating the competing armies’ trenches.
On Christmas Eve 1914 across Flanders Field and the Western Front, the guns fell silent and, as darkness descended, British soldiers heard something foreign in the bitter wind-swept night—the sounds of Christmas carols rising from the German lines.
Stille Nacht (Silent Night), a song that had yet to become well known in England or America, broke through the eerie silence of the war-torn night. For a moment all was truly calm, all was bright. The British ranks responded, first by applause and cheering, and then by singing Christmas carols themselves.
Being curious, some Allied soldiers raised their heads above the trenches. In the distance they could see the glow of candles on small Christmas trees, as it was the German tradition to light candles on the evergreen trees. German heads were also now seen beginning to peer above the trenches. No shots were fired. Some soldiers raised their heads higher. Shoulders, trunks, and entire bodies soon stood above the trenches.
Soldiers on both sides began to inch closer and eventually met at the heart of No Man’s Land, poignantly surrounded by their fallen comrades, frozen rigid by, and clothed in, frost. They shook hands, exchanged gifts and drinks, swapped cap badges and buttons,and showed one another photographs of their families and loved ones.
Faith found them on common ground.”
By visiting the website, you can get a free download of “Silent Night” and learn more about how using the hashtag #peaceispossible can help share a message of faith this Christmas season. To learn more about the Church’s involvement, visit Mormon Newsroom’s blog to read their post.