United in peace

It was impossible not to be moved by the last carol sung at the Lux Mundi carol service in Torre del Mar last Saturday: Silent Night. Noche de Paz in Spanish and Stille Nacht in German. The words were put up on giant screens in all three languages so that the congregation could sing in whichever language they were most comfortable with - and all three if they wished.

First it was sung in English, then Spanish, then German, with a repeat of the first verse in all three languages at that same time. The result was a harmonious union of nationalities, all at peace with each other under one roof.

It would have been interesting to do a straw poll to see how many people at the service were reminded of Christmas Day 1914 when German and British soldiers held a temporary ceasefire during World War One, played football and sang Silent Night together. However, Basil Fawlty whispered “Don't mention the war” in my ear so I shook hands or gave two kisses to the Austrian lady to my left and my Danish friend on my right and went home.

It still left a bitter taste though, that more than 100 years after that historic ceasefire and another war not long after, many in Britain still wish to have an uneasy relationship with their European neighbours and we, particularly those of us in Spain, are still unsettled by what Brexit will deliver.

We are reminded though, through moments like that last carol on Saturday evening, that Germans, British and other Europeans live in peace and can sing Silent Night together 103 years later.