Sunday, July 15, 2012

On This Day: Clement Clarke Moore

Clement Clarke Moore was born July 15, 1779 in New York City; he grew in the family home in Elmhurst, Queens. This professor of Oriental and Greek literature at Columbia College had great effect on New York City. The neighborhood "Chelsea" is still named for his family estate, which he inherited from his mother's father and later divided and developed. He gave an apple orchard as land to develop the General Theological Seminary. He helped Trinity Church organize St. Lukes in the Fields. And, of course, children around the world who celebrate Christmas, know and love his poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" (better known as "'Twas the Night Before Christmas."

And he's buried at Trinity Church Cemetery (155th St & Broadway). (This is why I love the history of New York City.) My maternal grandfather's grave is right next to his, a few yards from the towering wall at the cemetery’s western border.

There's apparently a hundred-plus year old tradition, too. I've never done it, but I'd like to do it. In December (sometimes on St Nicholas Day, sometimes on Christmas Day morning) children from the Church of the Intercession have sung hymns and processed down the the hill in the cemetery to the grave for the recitation of A Visit from St Nicholas.

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