The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

A Soldier's Silent Night

Words: James M. Schmidt, 1986, alt.
Vocal Recording: MP3 / WMA
Reading by
Father Ted Berndt, 2003

T'was the night before Christmas
He lived all alone,
in a one bedroom house
made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney
with presents to give
To see just who,
in this dwelling did live.

I looked all around
A strange sight to see
No tinsel, no presents,
Not even a tree.

On the wall hung pictures
of far distant lands.
Medals 'n badges, awards of every kind;
A sobering thought came alive in my mind.

This house was different...
it was dark, it was dreary.
I had found the home of a soldier,
I could see that most clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping,
Silent, Alone;
Curled up on the floor
In this one bedroom home.

His face was so gentle,
The room in such disorder;
Not at all how I pictured
a United States' soldier.

Was this the hero
of whom I'd just read;
Curled up on a poncho,
the floor for a bed?

Then I realized the other families
I saw this night,
Owed their lives to soldiers
Who were willing to fight.

In the morning, round the world,
Children would play;
Grown-ups would celebrate
A bright Christmas Day.

But they all enjoy freedom
Each month of the year,
Because of soldiers
Like the one lying here.

I couldn't help but wonder
How many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve
In lands far from home.

The very thought
Brought a tear to my eyes;
I dropped to my knees,
I started to cry.

The soldier awakened
I heard his rough voice,
"Santa don't cry,
This life is MY choice.

I fight for freedom,
I don't ask for more;
My life is my God,
My country, My corps."

The soldier rolled over,
and drifted to sleep.
But, I couldn't control it,
I continued to weep.

I kept watch for hours,
So silent and still;
As both of us shivered
From the cold night's chill.

I didn't want to leave him
On that cold, dark night;
This guardian of honor,
So willing to fight.

Then, the soldier rolled over,
In a voice soft and pure,
He whispered, "Carry on Santa,
It's Christmas Day, all is secure."

One look at my watch,
I knew he was right.
Merry Christmas my friend,
May God bless you this night.

Note:

The original poem is Merry Christmas, My Friend, which contains notes concerning the poem and its recording.

Also, check out A Soldier's Silent Night. The webpage was originally created by Jenny Culver, Father Berndt's daughter. This site contains additional details concerning Father Berndt, who made the recording in 2003, five months before he lost his final battle (with pancreatic cancer). The original recording was produced by Ellen Stout, another daughter of Father Ted.

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