It was Christmas night. The French trenches were filled with weary men. A fine snow was falling. All was silent and calm. Suddenly an officer sprang to his feet and cried, "Get ready! It is almost time for the charge!"
The men aroused themselves. There was no complaining, but some of the men were crowding back tender memories of other Christmas nights when they were home with their loved ones in the midst of peace and good cheer.
Word came down the line that there were but five minutes left. The loyal sons of France tried in vain to forget their homes and loved ones. They gripped their rifles and waited for orders.
Then it happened. The stillness of the night was broken by the sound of men's voices singing in German. Every Frenchman grew tense. The song grew in volume. Its message, which in any language thrills the heart, was full of rest and comfort for the worn and weary soldiers:
Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright;
Round yon virgin mother and Child!
Holy Infant, so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.
Here and there a soldier lowered his rifle, his lips trembling as he recognized the song.
Then the command was given: "Charge! Vive la France!"
Not a man moved forward. Something like a sob was the only response. The commanding officer was amazed. Again he prepared to issue the command, but paused; the words of the song had reached his ears also. He lowered his sword, and in a softened and subdued voice said, "Very well, no charge tonight. Let us also sing!"
At this season, in the midst of the vain strivings of this atomic age, our Saviour appeals to those whose hearts have been closed to His heavenly message of peace and good will. He wants their love and service. By His tender Spirit He is trying to awaken their acceptance of Him as their Saviour, too. Then, as they respond and accept Him, with joy they can join in the words of praise: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." Luke 2:14.