December 24, 1914. For five months the world had been entrapped in what history would call World War I. Before it was over four years later, 15,000,000 would die.
But nowhere was there more agony than on “The Western Front.” The Germans and the British sloshed in ankle-deep mud in their trenches and tried to survive the night…and the cold. Ten thousand had died already; so many that most of them lay where they fell. Most of those still alive would agree that if someone wanted a glimpse of hell this would come close.
But Christmas Eve, about midnight, as some of the survivors would describe it, the most amazing thing happened. One of the British soldiers fantasized he heard music. He asked his buddies to listen. As the group grew quiet, others heard it, too. It was unmistakable…from somewhere the sounds of “Silent Night, Holy Night…” were wafting over the no-man’s-land between the rows of trenches.
Dumbstruck, the Brits began to join in, humming first, then singing. In a few moments the whole battlefield was awash in Franz Gruber’s classic Christmas melody, written nearly a hundred years before.
Carefully, a British soldier raised his head and peered over the edge of the trench toward the enemy lines. It looked as if a German soldier was standing full height, waving his arms. Another British soldier joined the first and both began waving. From a German trench, in perfect English, a voice called out. “You come half way; we will come half way, and we will meet in the middle!” Was this a trap? Was this the prelude to an attack? No one knew for sure.
They moved stealthily, cautiously toward each other until they met. One British soldier, John Ferguson, would recall in his diary, “Here we were laughing and chatting to men whom only a few hours before we were trying to kill!”
Ever since the celestial choir opened their hearts and their mouths in the no-man’s-land above the shepherds on that Judean country-side, the Christian faith has been propelled on the wings of song. There are few more effective cures for the “blah’s” than a song about Jesus. Some of the most unforgettable moments in my memory are when I’ve stood with a worshiping congregation and heard their full-throated, four part tribute to the greatness of God, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness!” I urge you not to allow the current pandemic – or anything else – to steal your song.
Sing this: Jesus paid it all; all to Him I owe.
Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.
By Don Jacobsen