Saturday, March 10, 2018

Verse Paraphrase of the Dutch Hymn to Saint Nicholas, 1810

This is "the first American Santa Claus poem," as Charles W. Jones called it in his much-quoted 1954 essay on the Knickerbocker Santa Claus. Professor Jones found the unattributed lines in the New York Spectator for December 15, 1810, but the poem had appeared a few days earlier in the New York Commercial Advertiser for December 12, 1810. It was also reprinted in the New York Evening Post on December 14, 1810, concluding the elaborate account of the Festival of St. Nicholas as celebrated that year by the New-York Historical Society. Found in the New York Newspaper Archives at Genealogy Bank:

New York Commercial Advertiser - December 12, 1810


Oh good holy man! whom we Sancte Claus name,
The Nursery forever your praise shall proclaim:
The day of your joyful revisit returns,
When each little bosom with gratitude burns,
For the gifts which at night you so kindly impart
To the girls of your love, and the boys of your heart.
Oh! come with your panniers and pockets well stow'd,
Our stockings shall help you to lighten your load,
As close by the fire-side gaily they swing,
While delighted we dream of the presents you bring.

Oh! bring the bright Orange so juicy and sweet,
Bring Almonds and Raisins to heighten the treat;
Rich Waffles and Dough-Nuts must not be forgot,
Nor Crullers and Oley-Cooks fresh from the pot.
But of all these fine presents your Saintship can find,
Oh! leave not the famous big Cookies! behind.
Or if in your hurry one thing you mislay,
Let that be the Rod—and ah! keep it away.
Then holy Saint Nicholas! all the long year,
Our books we will love, and our parents revere;
From naughty behaviour we'll always refrain,
In hopes that you'll come and reward us again.
The original "Dutch Hymn" was printed by John Pintard in the 1810 broadside for members of the New-York Historical Society, below the illustration of St. Nicholas by Alexander Anderson

St Nicholas by John Pintard (1810)

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