Father Ted and
"A Soldier's Silent Night"
Also known as "A Soldier's Christmas," "Merry Christmas My Friend," "Christmas Soldier," and "Christmas Night Song," Father Ted and "A Soldier's Silent Night" have been blessing soldiers and their families since 2003.
Father Ted Berndt was a priest at Bread of Life Charismatic Episcopal Church in Dousman, Wisconsin, a proud WWII Marine, a Purple Heart recipient, and our Dad.
He was a husband, a father, a priest, a mentor, an entrepreneur, an author, an artist, a friend and
a lover of this great country!
In 2003, Father Ted and his oldest daughter, Ellen Stout, collaborated to record "A Soldier's Silent Night," with Dad narrating and Ellen producing. He was proud to complete it in one take, since Dad was a former radio guy in the '40's, after the war. Five months after completing the project, Father Ted was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As he was battling that disease, Ellen was honored to accept a national A.I.R. (Achievement in Radio) award from the
March of Dimes on Dad's behalf.
Our father lost his battle on March 19th, 2004. All he ever wanted to do was to touch lives...
to make a difference. Before he passed, he felt, with this project, he had.
A Soldier's Silent Night" was played on radio stations across the United States that first Christmas.
Since then, listeners have shared this project, world-wide!
May "A Soldier's Silent Night" transcend any opinion about this war or any war, and go deeper to foster an appreciation for the sacrifice and courage of our military and their families.
We are honored and blest to share "A Soldier's Silent Night" with you every Christmas.
How The Words Came To Be Written
The poem's author, James M. Schmidt, was a Lance Corporal stationed in Washington, D.C., when he wrote the poem back in 1986. In Corporal Schmidt's own words (December, 2002):
"The true story is that while a Lance Corporal serving as Battalion Counter Sniper at the Marine Barracks 8th & I, Washington, D.C., under Commandant P.X. Kelly and Battalion Commander D.J. Myers (in 1986), I wrote this poem to hang on the door of the gym in the BEQ. When Colonel Myers came upon it, he read it and immediately had copies sent to each department at the Barracks and promptly dismissed the entire Battalion early for Christmas leave. The poem was placed that day in the Marine Corps Gazette, distributed worldwide and later submitted to Leatherneck Magazine."
Schmidt's original version, entitled "Merry Christmas, My Friend," was published in Leatherneck (Magazine of the Marines) in December, 1991.
As Leatherneck wrote of the poem's author in 2003:
"'Merry Christmas, My Friend,'" has been a holiday favorite among 'leatherneckphiles' for nearly the time it takes to complete a Marine Corps career. Few, however, know who wrote it and when. Former Corporal James M. Schmidt, stationed at Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., pounded it out over 17 years ago on a typewriter while awaiting the commanding officer's Christmas holiday decorations inspection...while other leathernecks strung lights for the Barracks' annual Christmas decoration contest, Schmidt contributed his poem to his section."
Over the years the text of "Merry Christmas, My Friend," has been altered to change Marine-specific wording into Army references (including the title: U.S. Marines do not refer to themselves as "soldiers") and to incorporate line-ending rhyme changes necessitated by those alterations.