The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

“Silent Night” and the Christmas Truce

Dec 9, 2019

Music for the popular poem “Silent Night, Holy Night” was composed in Austria in 1818, over 200 years ago. It was sung at Christmas Eve mass.

Fast forward to December 1914. Soon after World War I began, French and British armies were fighting against the German army in nearby trenches. Suddenly the British and French soldiers heard a beautiful voice singing in German, “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht.” A French soldier played the tune on a harmonica. British soldiers began to sing “Silent Night, Holy Night.” French soldiers joined in the chorus, singing “Douce Nuit, Saint Nuit.” The song was sung in three different languages, and three nationalities sang together in peace. An unofficial truce, though brief, on Christmas Eve!

This is a true story: an example of ordinary soldiers challenging who the enemy was supposed to be, and singing together in working class solidarity and the spirit of peace.