On Christmas Eve in 1914, during World War I, a true holiday miracle took place in the trenches of Messines, Belgium, when a temporary, unofficial truce was decided in honor of Christmas Day. Gun fire and explosions ceased as British, Belgian, French and German soldiers shook hands and exchanged holiday wishes. These men caught in the midst of war came together over coffee, tea and chocolate, joining in a chorus of "Silent Night" — a harmony that would echo long into history.
Now, a century later, carillonneurs (aka bell ringers) in 11 different countries around the world commemorate that remarkable truce on its 100th anniversary. Spokane's St. John's Cathedral is one of 78 carillons participating in the worldwide recognition of the Christmas Eve Truce, with Carillonneur Jonathan Lehrer — winner of the 2010 International Carillon competition — leading the cathedral's 49-bell carillon.
The historic, 90-year-old St. John's Cathedral begins the carillon concert on Christmas Eve, following its family Christmas Eve Eucharist at 4 pm, and again at 9:15 pm, prior to the Christmas Eve Choral Eucharist.
The ringing of the bells are open to all, and St. John's invites the Spokane community to join together in holiday spirit similar to one the expressed by the soldiers a century ago.