“Bells for Peace” Commemorates the 1914 Christmas Truce

“Bells for Peace” Ring on Christmas Eve for All the World to “Sleep in Heavenly Peace”

Soldiers in World War I impulsively laid down their weapons and sang carols together on the battlefield 100 years ago this Christmas Eve, December 24, 1914. In memory of this famous “Christmas Truce,” and in honor of those seeking peace throughout the world, the bells of University Circle’s carillon will join a global musical event by playing the carol best known to English- and German-speaking troops a century ago, “Silent Night,” this Christmas Eve, December 24, 2014, at 7:14 p.m. EST, or 19:14 in military time. The McGaffin Carillon is located at 11205 Euclid Avenue, in the block between Severance Hall and MOCA Cleveland.

All are invited to bundle up and listen to this playing of the carol from the Church of the Covenant lawn and parking area or the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center Healing Garden across the street. Members of the Church of the Covenant Choir will lead singing of the carol afterward. From 7:30 to 8 p.m., University Circle Carillonneur George Leggiero will play a recital of other carols mentioned in soldiers’ diaries and letters about the experience. Cookies and cocoa will be provided between 7 and 8 p.m.

This is part of the project “Bells for Peace,” in which carillons throughout Europe, North America, Australia, and elsewhere will play “Silent Night” at 19:14 in their time zones. Leggiero’s 7:30 p.m. recital precedes an 8 p.m. prelude and carol sing and 8:30 p.m. candlelight service at the Church of the Covenant.

The Christmas Truce involved vast portions of the war’s Western Front, including German troops with British, French, and Belgians. Soldiers on both sides observed an impromtu ceasefire, tentatively emerging from their trenches, singing carols, trading gifts from their care packages, and wishing one another well in the other’s language as best they could, with at least one Christmas day makeshift soccer game documented. Bells for Peace is part of the larger Christmas Truce and Flanders Peace Field Project, whose center is the little city of Messines, Belgium, near where a soccer game took place.

Friends of the McGaffin Carillon has recently been formed to fully restore and expand the activities of this unique true cast-bell carillon within the City of Cleveland.

More about The Christmas Truce                                                          

Christmas Truce
Wikipedia article about the history and background of the truce and activities that took place on Christmas Eve 1914 along the front
Christmas Truce Commemoration Program
Since August there have been commemorations along the former front lines including the dedication of the Flanders Peace Field and "Peace Games" remembering the informal soccer matches between the troops as well as concerts and educational programs.On December 6 there will be a Goodwill Gathering convened by Desmond Tutu.
Statement by Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Patron of the Christmas Truce and Flanders Peace Field Initiative. 4 February 2013
An Education pack created by The British Council and several UK Football Leagues.
A group of students watch actors reenact the first world war Christmas truce in this video resource designed for use in secondary history lessons. Costumed actors dramatize the truce that took place between British and German troops in 1914 on the battlefields of Ypres in Belgium.