193: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas

In this Christmas special, learn where to find free ebooks and audio books online!


Hi everyone, and welcome to to Seattle Learning Academy's special holiday podcast! I've got a treat for you today. We're going to listen to the short audiobook, 'Twas the Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. This well-known children's book, originally titled A Visit from St. Nicholas, was published in 1823 and is now in the public domain. That means that the copyright for the book has expired and anyone can freely use the text. A website called Project Gutenberg, which you can find at www.gutenberg.org, has digitized these public domain books and made them downloadable for free. Then it gets even better. There are very kind people who have voluntarily made audio recordings of these books and given that audio to the public domain as well. Another website, called Librivox, collect these public domain audio files. Now you can get the Librivox audio directly from Gutenberg.org.

So today we'll listen to a free Librivox audio of the book I downloaded for free through Project Gutenberg. The text of the book is all included in the transcripts for this episode, which you can find by clicking the "Podcast" link on the right-hand side of Pronuncian.com. I'll even add a few of Jessie Willcox Smith's old illustrations to the transcripts, too, since they're kind of fun to see. If you want to find more books and audios like this, I'll also include links directly to Project Gutenberg and Librivox on this episode's transcript page.

And now, Twas the Night before Christmas or A Visit from St. Nicholas, by Clement C. Moore.

Twas 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 rose such a clatter,
I sprang from my 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 a lustre of mid-day to objects below;
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny rein-deer,
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! Dunder 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 a 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 on 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 bowl full 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,
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"