Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
When I was around 11, I learned to sing “Silent Night” in German. Our class had to perform it, at the Christmas assembly before we broke for Christmas that year. I still remember the first verse even now, all these years later. I even think of it as “Stille Nacht”. It is one of the very few Christmas traditions I keep, I listen to it in German every year – this year it’s me listening to it on Alexa! I always have a tear in my eye by the time it’s finished!
It’s tied in with another story that we all know, the 1914 break in fighting, where both Germans and British stopped fighting during the first world war. Peace rained for a few hours, at various, but not all points along the front line. At points, people did shake hands, swap gifts, and sing carols. In some places it was little more than a break in the fighting for both sides to reclaim their dead from no-mans-land. That is what the sculpture above celebrates – a fragile peace.
The statue was designed by Andy Edwards and is called “All Together Now”. I snapped it during my recent visit to Liverpool. It stands in the grounds of St Luke’s, a bombed out church almost destroyed by an incendiary bomb in May 1941. It has remained as a burnt out shell ever since. A memorial to those who were killed in the second world war.
By coincidence another of my favourite pieces of “Christmas Music”, I only discovered a couple of years ago, is also considered a Carol. It was written in 1914 by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovych. The Carol of the Bells, you’ll know it, even if the title means nothing. Apparently it’s from a Ukrainian folk chant “Shchedryk”, that celebrates what’s to come in the new year.
With the war is Ukraine still raging, and people being bombed out of house and home, Russia deliberately targeting power supplies, et all, it might be a good time to remember both the above stories and reflect. I will listen to ‘Stille Nacht’ tonight and Carol of the Bells New Years eve, and as I do so will think of Ukrainians’.
As Bill and Ted once said “be excellent to one another!”
May you all have a Happy Christmas, a great New Year and above all, peace!