Christmas Message, 1939

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Christmas Message, 1939  (1939) 
by George VI of the United Kingdom

Delivered on 25 December 1939.

The festival which we all know as Christmas is, above all, the festival of peace and of the home. Among all free peoples the love of peace is profound, for this alone gives security to the home. But true peace is in the hearts of men, and it is the tragedy of this time that there are powerful countries whose whole direction and policy are based on aggression and the suppression of all that we hold dear for mankind.

It is this that has stirred our peoples and given them a unity unknown in any previous way. We feel in our hearts that we are fighting against wickedness, and this conviction will give us strength from day to day to persevere until victory is assured.

At home we are, as it were, taking the strain for what may lie ahead of us, resolved and confident. We look with pride and thankfulness on the never-failing courage and devotion of the Royal Navy, upon which throughout the last four months has burst the storm of ruthless and unceasing war.

And when I speak of our Navy today I mean all the men of our Empire who go down to the sea in ships, the Mercantile Marine, the minesweepers, the trawlers, and drifters, from the senior officers to the last boy who has joined up. To everyone in this great Fleet I send a message of gratitude and greeting from myself as from all my peoples.

The same message I send to the gallant Air Force, which, in co-operation with the Navy is our sure shield of defence. They are daily adding laurels to those that their fathers won.

I would send a special word of greeting to the armies of the Empire, to those who have come from afar, and in particular to the British Expeditionary Force. Their tasks is hard.

They are waiting, and waiting is a trial of nerve and discipline. But I know that when the moment comes for action they will prove themselves worthy of the highest traditions of their great Service.

And to all who are preparing themselves to serve their country on sea, on land, or in the air, I send my greeting at this time. The men and women of our far-flung Empire, working in their several vocations with the one same purpose, all are members of the great family of nations which is prepared to sacrifice everything that freedom of spirit may be saved to the world.

Such is the spirit of the Empire, of the great Dominions, of India, of every Colony, large or small. From all alike have come offers of help for which the Mother Country can never be sufficiently grateful. Such unity in aim and in effort has never been seen in the world before.

I believe from my heart that the cause which binds together my peoples and our gallant and faithful Allies is the cause of Christian civilisation. On no other basis can a true civilisation be built. Let us remember this through the dark times ahead of us and when we are making the peace for which all men pray.

A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace how thankful we shall all be. If it brings continued struggle, we shall remain undaunted.

In the meantime, I feel that we may all find a message of encouragement in the lines which, in my closing words, I would like to say to you.

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year. “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown. “ And he replied. “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”

May that Almighty hand guide and uphold us all.

This work is in the public domain worldwide because it was created by a public body of the United Kingdom with Crown Status and commercially published before 1972.

See Crown copyright artistic works, Crown copyright non-artistic works and List of Public Bodies with Crown Status.