By Tracy Hanson

“‘Twas The Night Before Christmas”, also known as “A Visit From St. Nicholas, is one of the oldest and best known Christmas poems.  Although there is some dispute over the original author ( Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston Jr. ), it was first published on Dec. 23, 1823 in the Troy Sentinel newspaper in upstate New York.

I found this version which is done in sign language.

Here is a read-along illustrated by Jan Brett, an American illustrator and writer of children’s picture books.  You might even know some of her books.  Two well-known ones are “The Mitten” and “The Hat”. She is known for colorful, detailed depictions of a wide variety of animals, and human cultures ranging from Scandinavia to Africa.  She lives in the state of Massachusetts, USA.  Here is a brief biography.

Last but now least, here is a cute movie made in 1974 which incorporates the poem within a story.  What happens when Santa doesn’t feel appreciated and decides not to make his yearly run.  Or if, at the last minute, you find out that your letter to Santa was never mailed?  How would you feel?  

And what do you say when you get teased for believing?  You just tell them, “There is so!”  He can be traced back hundreds of years to a monk who was born sometime around 280 A.D. in Patara, near Myra in modern-day Turkey.  Explore more about him on these History Channel and National Geographic sites.


Poem by Clement Clarke Moore

Script by Tracy Hanson







Reader 7

Reader 8

READER 1: ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was
stirring, not even a mouse;

READER 2:  The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

READER 3:  The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
 visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

READER 4:  And mamma in her kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

READER 5:  When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

READER 6:  Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the
shutters and threw up the sash.

Reader 7:  The moon, on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the
 lustre of mid-day to objects below,

Reader 8:  When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a
miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

READER 1:  With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

READER 2:  More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he
whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:

READER 3: Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen

READER 4:  To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
dash away! dash away! dash away all!’

READER 5: As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an
obstacle, mount to the sky,

READER 6: So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys – and St. Nicholas too.

READER 7:  And then in a twinkling I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

READER 8: As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the
chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

READER 1:  He was dressed all in fur from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all
tarnished with ashes and soot;

READER 2:  A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a
peddler just opening his pack.

READER 3:  His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;

READER 4:  His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

READER 5:  The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

READER 6:  He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook, when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

Reader 7: He was chubby and plump – a right jolly old elf;
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.

Reader 8:  A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head, Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

READER 1: He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

READER 2:  And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

READER 3:  He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a

READER 4:  But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

ALL                ‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!’

GMRT and its script format are  licensed under the Creative Commons and can only be used by licensed facilitators.