By Madeline Pantalena
“’Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”
Many know this iconic Christmas Eve story, but few realize it was written by an Episcopalian!
Clement Clark Moore claimed authorship of these well-known verses in 1837, 14 years after their first anonymous publication in 1823. While is authorship is sometimes disputed, I like to think one of our own created this famous piece of Americana. Moore was the founding warden of St. Luke in the Fields, the church I am interning at this year in New York City, and was a professor of Oriental and Greek literature and Divinity and Biblical Learning at General Theological Seminary, which was developed on land he donated from his large estate in what is today the Chelsea neighborhood of New York.
While many would argue that this poem is entirely secular, I can see a Christian influence. Advent is a season of hope and waiting. While in the Christian tradition, we wait specifically for Christ’s return through the birth narrative, other traditions of waiting and hoping are also at play. Solstice, the return of the sun as days begin to lengthen again on December 23rd marks both the first day of winter, but the darkest day of the year, the last night before the light begins to linger again. And the waiting for Santa Claus, or “St. Nick,” as Moore refers to the “right jolly old elf” reminds me of both. There is hope, joy, and wonder when waiting for the return of Christ, light, or even Santa.
Thank you for joining us on this Advent journey of hope and reflection. Have a blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year!