Rockefeller Chapel joins worldwide carillon concert on Christmas Eve

The carillon at Rockefeller Memorial Chapel will ring out with the strains of “Silent Night” on Dec. 24 as part of a worldwide celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Christmas Eve truce during World War I.

At 7:14 p.m. (1914 hours), the 72-bell, 100-ton Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon will be played to commemorate the occasion, with a selection of yuletide melodies offered by carillon recitalist Jerry Jelsema. The short recital is part of an international carillon concert, which will begin in Messines, Belgium—a city at the heart of the 1914 Christmas truce. The idea of a worldwide commemoration was presented by Don Mullan, Irish author and associate chair of UNESCO’s Global Youth Program, at the 2014 Congress of the World Carillon Federation in Antwerp, Belgium.

“We are proud to be part of this global musical celebration, recalling a moment when the scourge of war was briefly eclipsed by hope and kindness,” said Elizabeth Davenport, dean of Rockefeller Chapel. “It’s fitting that we join with other carillons around the world in ringing bells as an act of remembrance.”

The commemoration was organized to recall the events of Christmas Eve 1914. That night, after sunset along the Western Front, German, Belgian, French and British soldiers ceased fighting, approached one another and shook hands. They met again the following day to hold religious services and bury the dead, sharing food and drink, according to the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium. It adds that British historian Piers Brendon called it “the most extraordinary celebration of Christmas since those notable goings-on in Bethlehem.”

Tours of Rockefeller’s carillon bells and tower are conducted Mondays through Fridays at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. throughout the academic year and will resume Jan. 5.