‘Santa Claus is Coming!’ A Christmas Eve poem from 1885

From a Christmas edition past: ‘Has he toy-shops by the legion, In that far-off Polar region?’

The more colourful snippets published in the Lost Leads archive series, and particularly on the Twitter and Facebook pages, mostly come from The Weekly Irish Times, which was printed on Saturdays between 1876 and 1941. After that, it was incorporated into a new weekly called Times Pictorial.

The Weekly Irish Times contained news reports, sometimes printing copy from the daily editions during the week, but it also featured lighter items. Illustrations, short stories and joke competitions were typical.

For example, the Christmas edition, published on Saturday, December 19th, 1885, featured the Variety column on page 2. Among its items: "A reporter, in describing a teetotal meeting said that 'they had a most harmonious and profitable session and retired from the hall full of the best of spirits.'" That kind of thing.

The same page of the same edition carried a poem titled Christmas Eve. The verses are attributed to Cricket on the Hearth, which is the title of a Charles Dickens novella and later popular stage production written in 1845.


Here it is, in full:


Hurry! Flurry! Clapper! Clatter! Bless me! What can be the matter? Children scampering o'er the floors, In and out at all the doors, Up-stairs, down-stairs, here and there, Children, children, everywhere. Each one calling for a stocking, Really, it is very shocking. Ah! How stupid to forget; Once I knew and I know yet, Santa Claus is coming!

On his way this very minute - Jolly team with nice things in it - Sleds, tops, marbles, swords, balls, bats, Pictures, tea-sets, books, furs, hats, Dolls that sit and dolls that walk, Dolls that cry and dolls that talk, Yards of candy by the score, Cornucopias brimming o'er, Punchinellos, jumping-jacks, Kickshaws, gimcracks and knick knacks, Trumpets, whistles, pipes and drums, There'll be music when it comes. Santa Claus is coming!

Has he toy-shops by the legion, In that far-off Polar region? Gnomes and fairies night and day, Working for him? What's his pay? All he asks is, children dear, Just your homes to fill with cheer, Just to plant in every bosom Happy thoughts to bud and blossom, Into happy lives to grow - Dear good saint that loves you so. Santa Claus is coming!

Hark! Are those the sleigh bells ringing, Marry music making, bringing? Is that sound like distant dancing Feet of tiny reindeer prancing? Haste, good rider! Understand Every chimney in the land, Waits your coming and we will pray Not from one you miss the way. Haste, now, children, haste to bed! Let the Good nights quick be said! He must find you all asleep, Not an eye must wink or peep, Till the Christmas morning gleam Sweetly sleep and sweetly dream. Santa Claus is Coming!