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I never hope to see a stranger and more lovely sight. Clusters of tiny lights were shining all along the German line, left and right as far as the eye could see.

“What is it?” I asked in bewilderment, and John answered, “Christmas trees!”

And so it was. The Germans had placed Christmas trees in front of their trenches, lit by candle or lantern, like beacons of goodwill.

And then we heard them singing.

Stille nacht, heilige nacht...

This carol may not yet be familiar to us in Britain, but John knew it and translated: “Silent Night, Holy Night.” I’ve never heard one lovelier – or more meaningful, in that quiet, clear night, its darkness softened by a first – quarter moon. When the song finished, the men in our trenches applauded. Yes, British soldiers applauded Germans! Then one of our own men started singing, and we all joined in.

The first Nowell, the angel did say ...

In truth, we sounded not nearly as good as the Germans, with their fine harmonies. But they responded with enthusiastic applause of their own and then began another.
O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum...
The British soldier had never expected that he would see a stranger or more beautiful sight. Here the term “stranger” refers to Germans. The British soldier didn’t expect that he would see an amazing vision while looking at his enemies. While he peeps at the German borderline, he notices the clusters of small lights hanging left and right along the side. After seeing that, the British soldier asked his friend in a confused manner, “What is it?” Then John replied that it was “Christmas trees!” Then the British soldier said, and that was the case the Germans beautifully decorated Christmas trees. They had used candles or lanterns to illuminate the Christmas trees. The Christmas trees had been set in front of the German trenches as lights of peace and friendliness. After that, they began to sing Christmas songs. From the other end, the British soldiers heard German’s singing.


The British soldiers were unfamiliar with the carol song when they heard it. But John was well-versed in the song and translated it into English for the British soldiers. John says that Stille Nacht's Heilige Nacht means "Silent Night, Holy Night."


Lines        German     English translation
 1Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht!Silent night, holy night!
 2Alles schläft, einsam wachtAll is asleep, only the faithful,
 3Nur das traute, hochheilige Paar.Most holy couple is awake.
 4Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,Gentle boy with curly hair,
 5Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh,Sleep in heavenly peace,
 6Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh.Sleep in heavenly peace.


After hearing the song, the British soldier said that in that quiet, pure night, its darkness lightened by a first-quarter moon, he hadn’t heard such meaningful and lovely song.



First quarter moon


The men in the British group complimented the Germans when they stopped singing the carol. They applauded them. Despite being on opposing teams, they enjoyed the Germans’ lovely music due to the light music and the peaceful Christmas night. On the border, they’ve never heard such light music before. Later, one of the British team members began singing a song, and the rest of the team joined in. They sang “The first Nowell, the angel did say ...” in chorus, and then the British soldier said that, in reality, they didn’t sing well as the Germans did. The Germans were known for their outstanding harmonies. The phrase “harmony” refers to a pleasing musical sound created by multiple notes being played or sung simultaneously. The Germans then responded with their loud clapping and began singing another carol. They sang "O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum..."

Meaning of the difficult words:
Cluster A group of similar things or people positioned or occurring closely together
Candle A cylinder or block of wax or tallow with a central wick which is lit to produce light as it burns
LanternA light inside a container that has a handle for holding it or hanging it up, or the container itself
BeaconA fire or light set up in a high or prominent position as a warning, signal, or celebration
GoodwillFriendly, helpful, or cooperative feelings or attitude
ApplaudShow approval or praise by clapping
HarmonyThe combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce a pleasing effect
State Council of Educational Research and Training (2018). Term-1 English Standard-9. The Christmas Truce- Aaron Shepard (pp. 126-131). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.