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MOORE, Clement Clarke, Professor [1779-1863] -- American biblical scholar & author

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Well-known New York City resident in his day, but is today remembered only for what he dismissed as "a trifle": the beloved Christmas poem A Visit From St. Nicholas, a/k/a 'Twas The night before Christmas, from its first line. Indeed, had it not been for a Moore relative spiriting a copy upstate to the Troy, NY, Sentinel, where it was published anonymously the following year, this great poem may have lain in easy obscurity. 

The ballad became a perennial favorite, but it was several years before Moore admitted authorship.

Moore's father, Benjamin Moore, was an ordained Episcopal priest, later Bishop of New York, and was a loyalist during the Revolutionary War; A professor at Columbia University, he later became President of that institution.

Clement Moore was born in New York City and was a resident there for most of his life. He eventually retired to Newport, RI, and died there.

He was a Biblical Hebrew scholar and Professor of Classics at General Theological Seminary, NYC, which he founded. One of his books was A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language. (It sounds really "compendious", doesn't it?) In 1807 he discovered Lorenzo da Ponte, the librettist of three of Mozart's greatest operas, in a New York City bookstore, and was instrumental in launching da Ponte's new career as a teacher of Italian language and literature.

Clement Moore was the savior of New York's Greenwich Village. He wrote a 60-page pamphlet — anonymously — that argued against extending the orthogonal grid of streets into the village. His arguments were persuasive and the grid stopped at 6th Avenue and at 14th Street. He eventually admitted authorship of the pamphlet.

Clement wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas for his children in 1822, supposedly on an excursion by sleigh into Greenwich Village to buy the family's Christmas turkey. This spirited ballad has, more than anything else, been formative of our modern concept of the secular aspects of Christmas.  -30-
 

Chronology

1807
He meets Lorenzo da Ponte in a bookstore
1822/12
Moore writes AVFSN, and recites it for his children
1823/12/23
The poem is published anonymously in the Troy [NY] Sentinal
1836
AVFSN published in an anthology, credits Moore
1844
Moore publishes a volume of his work, includes AVFSN

Selected Works

  • A Compendious Lexicon of the Hebrew Language (1809 book in 2 volumes)
  • A Visit From St Nicholas (1822 poem)
  • Bookmarks (off-site links)

    Bookmarks:2004-12-09 23:02:36

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