Kings Presbyterian will mark First World War Christmas truce with special service

John Decoste jdecoste@kingscountynews.ca
Published on December 19, 2014

NEW MINAS - This Dec. 24, Kings Presbyterian Church in New Minas will help mark the 100th anniversary of one of the signature moments of the First World War – the Christmas truce.

On Christmas Eve 1914, both sides in the Great War, which had been ongoing since late summer, agreed to lay down their arms. Soldiers from both sides met in no-man’s land, exchanged gifts, sang Christmas songs, buried their dead and even engaged in a friendly game of soccer.

As part of their annual Christmas Eve service, Rev. Tim Archibald and the choir and congregation of Kings Presbyterian will be incorporating a celebration of the Christmas truce. It will include projected photos, personal testimonies - including the reading of excerpts of First World War-vintage letters - and special music written for the occasion, including a specially-written song.

Wanda and Dune Campbell, two members of the congregation, had the original idea of doing something to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Christmas truce.

Dune Campbell wrote the lyrics and music to a special song, entitled Christmas Ceasefire. The Dec. 24 service, Archibald said, will be the first public performance of the song, with music director Paul Hutten leading the choir.

“They did it the first Christmas,” Dune Campbell said of the organized truce. “It happened other years as well, but to a different degree, and not so widespread.”

The idea began with Dune’s song, and grew from there, with the support and encouragement of the church’s worship team.

“It’s a story most people know, and are moved by,” Dune says. “It’s become a magical moment in history – a bit of peace, even in the midst of war.”

At the time it first took place, “it was enough to still the guns, and allow enemies to shake hands, sing carols together, and hold a joint service to bury their dead.”

Everyone taking part in the service will get a candle to take home as a symbol of carrying on light and peace.

The truce of 1914, Archibald added, “becomes our challenge today, our quest to accomplish that same kind of peace in our own lives today.”

The service is planned to begin at 6:30 p.m. The service is aimed at families and everyone is welcome, even if they aren’t regular members of the congregation.