News Release

Chorley Concert Commemorates The Christmas Truce

Over fifteen hundred people gathered at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Chorley, Lancashire to commemorate the events surrounding the famous Christmas Truce of December 1914. Just months into the First World War, troops from opposing sides serving on the front line crossed No Man’s Land on Christmas Day to exchange greetings, share gifts and participate in a football match.

During two concerts held on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th December, tributes were made to war heroes on both sides of the conflict. Readings were shared from journals and letters home; specially produced video footage was shown, giving background information about the war; and old favourites such as "Pack Up Your Troubles" and "It’s a Long Way to Tipperary" were sung in memory of those who served.

Special guests the Right Honourable Lindsay Hoyle, MP for Chorley, Councillor Roy Lees, the Mayor of Chorley, and Cyril Goulbourne BEM, representing the Royal British Legion were invited to read two letters from WWl servicemen written just before they engaged in battle for the first time and a third penned by a Welsh Minister who comforted and sang with the wounded and dying.

Many present were moved to tears on hearing the words of these brave young soldiers whose future was so uncertain. Not knowing what tomorrow might bring, they often included in their letters their last will and testament, leaving “everything to Mother.”

Members of the congregation and choir who had ancestors who served in the war were encouraged to wear their medals and poppies and to bring photographs of their loved ones which were used to decorate a Christmas tree placed in the chapel.

Interspersed with the war tributes was the singing of traditional Christmas hymns and carols. Soldiers on both sides held their own carol concerts and even joined in singing together. They saw music as an antidote to war, a fact that hasn’t changed with the passage of time as music continues to unite and bring people together.

The eighty-strong choir comprised of singers aged 12 to 75 who performed a range of carols and led the congregation in many traditional favourites. The concluding carol was performed by two young adults dressed in military uniform, one German and one British. They each took turns to sing a line of “Silent Night”  and “Stille Nacht’’ in their respective language, then both sang together in perfect harmony with the congregation joining in the final verse. At the end they shook hands, reminiscent of the actions taken one hundred years earlier during the Christmas Truce, and in doing so created a symbol for peace, hope, unity and the desire for brotherhood and love to continue into the future.

Both concerts were greeted with a standing ovation, with many audience members lingering afterwards to continue enjoying the poignancy of the occasion. One visitor, who had not previously visited a Mormon Church, commented: “This was the best Christmas carol concert I have ever attended”. Another remarked: “The music was lovely and the whole event was very moving”. And the chorister of another Church said: “The choir was excellent. I wish we had the youth you have to sing in our choir”.

The Christmas Carol Concert is a popular annual event for the Chorley members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but in 2014 it was particularly memorable... “Lest We Forget”.


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