Around 1500 people braved a wet and blustery night at Selhurst Park on Tuesday evening to commemorate “The Silent Night of World War One”, a historic carol service remembering the famous truce of WW1.
Hosted by Crystal Palace Football Club, in partnership with the Church in Croydon, members of the community gathered together in the Holmesdale Road Stand to pay tribute to the countless lives lost during the Great War and to acknowledge the peace that was achieved for us a nation.
The Christmas truce signified a time of peace and unity during the first Christmas of WW1 when both the Germans and British soldiers laid aside their weapons and formed a momentary truce during the horrors of the war.
“From the German trenches came the sound of a Christmas carol profoundly familiar to British ears…..as the Germans sang `Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht`, so the British soldiers responded with “Silent Night, Holy Night`. Soldiers from both sides walked unarmed into no-man`s land where they sang, exchanged greetings and gifts and even played a game of football in what must be the most powerful Christmas ever. ”
Eagles CEO Phil Alexander welcomed everyone to the club and said that Palace were proud to be involved in such an event.
Among the many memorable contributions were some incredible singing by the renowned Seventh Day Adventist gospel choir and the Archbishop Tenisons school choir, a Salvation Army brass band, some powerful dramatic pieces and much more to make up a memorable evening.
CPFC historians Ian King and Alan Russell gave fascinating insights into how CPFC was involved in the events of WW1, and Palace manager Neil Warnock read the Christmas lesson from the gospel of Luke.
In what was a profoundly moving evening, Prince Philip Kiril of Prussia, the great-great grandson of Kaiser Wilhelm 11 (who was a highly significant figure in taking Germany to war in 1914), asked for forgiveness for his great-great grandfather`s actions that led to countless lives being lost.
As the crowd sang “Silent Night” together on the terraces, many were deeply moved as they could only imagine what it must have been like for the soldiers in 1914 during the unspeakable atrocities of war.
CPFC club chaplain Chris Roe said “It's really powerful when two organisations that have such unique abilities to gather people together- the Church and the football club-combine together to uplift the community. `Silent Night` was a wonderful and moving event.”