T’was the Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore

This popular Christmas poem was written by Clement Clarke Moore (1799 – 1863). He was a respected scholar and a professor of Greek and Oriental literature.

The poem was originally titled A Visit from St. Nicholas and was published anonymously in 1823.

Clement Moore didn’t actually acknowledge he was the author of the piece until 1844. He referred to the poem as a mere trifle and felt it wasn’t a true reflection of his talents.

How ironic that this mere flight of fancy has become such a coveted Christmas favourite and is known by children and parents alike all over the world.

T’was the Night before Christmas was the first time the patron saint of children, St. Nicholas was associated with reindeer and the merry faced Santa Clause children have come to adore. The earlier pictures resembled the solemn bishop St. Nicholas, but with a jolly face.

T‘was the night before Christmas, when all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;


The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,


When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter. 
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.


The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow 
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, 
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.


His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.”

For free downloads of the above story by Clement C. Moore.
Download to listen to A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore at the Internet Archive here. Download to listen to T’was the Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore at Librivox here. Download to read T’was the Night before Christmas by Clement C.Moore at the Internet Archive here.

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