Vægterrundgang i Ribe

The Night Watchmans tradition in Ribe - the oldest town of Denmark

During nighttime the Night Watchman was responsible for keeping peace and order, making sure that the streetlights were on, and to raise alarm in case of fire and flodding.

Moreover, the Night Watchman marked the strike of the hour by singing in the streets. He sang to reassure the citizens that he was keeping watch, but also because very few people had a watch at that time. The singing was an important part of the role as a Night Watchman, he was perceived as a kind of professional street singer.

The job as a Night Watchman was hard, especially in winter, when the shift was very long - whole 9 hours. The salary was low and often had to be supplemented with daytime work.

The Night Watchman scheme has existed since the 14th century, and the last "real" Night Watchmen in Ribe ceased their work in 1902.

However, it did not take long before the Board of Ribe Tourist Association decided to let the Night Watchman tradition revive again as part of the continued tourism effort. Since 1935, with the exception of World War ll, the Night Watchman has thus been a permanent offer to the tourists.

Today the Night Watchman walks his rounds in the streets of Ribe to the pleasure of the many tourists and locals.

Morgenstjernen - et frygtindgydende våben

The Morning Star - a terrifying weapon
Thinking back in time to Ribe in the Reformation period, when the streets were narrow and pitch-dark, and you could easily meet a footpad (a mugger), one understands the need for a robust Night Watchman, so that good and honest people could get home safely.

Today's baton would probably not have been very useful, but the morning star, on the other hand, was very effective. A real medieval weapon - a wooden spiked club with a long spike extending straight from its top. It became the Night Watchman’s special weapon and is a permanet part of his outfit.

Visit The Town Hall Collection at the Old Town Hall, where you, among other things, can see a few morning stars.

Share this page

Night Watchmans song

Text: Thomas Kingo
Melody: Thomas Laub

Hov vægter! Klokken er slagen 9.
Nu skrider dagen under,
og natten vælder ud.
Forlad for Jesu vunder
vor synd, o milde Gud!
Bevare kongens hus,
  samt alle mand
  i disse land
fra fjendens vold og knus!

Hov vægter! Klokken er slagen 10.
Om du vil tiden vide,
husbonde, pig' og dreng,
da er det på de tide,
man føjer sig til seng.
Befal dig Herren fri!
  vær klog og snild!
  vogt lys og ild!
Vor klokk' er slagen ti.

Hov vægter! Klokken er slagen 11.
Gud Fader os bevare,
de store med de små!
Hans hellig' engleskare
en skanse om os slå!
Selv vogte byen vel
  vort hus og hjem
  har han i gemm',
Vor ganske liv og sjæl!

Hov vægter! Klokken er slagen 12.
Det var ved midnats tide,
vor frelser han blev født,
til trøst al verden vide,
som ellers var forødt.
Vor klokk' er slagen tolv!
  med tung' og mund,
  af hjertens grund
befal dig Gud i vold!

Hov vægter! Klokken er slagen 1.
Hjælp os, o Jesu kære!
Vort kors i verden her
tålmodelig vi bære!
Der er ej hjælper fler'
Vor klokk' er slagen et.
  Ræk os din hånd,
  o frelsermand!
Så vorder byrden let.

Hov vægter! Klokken er slagen 2.
Dig, milde Jesu lille,
som, mig til salighed,
i mørket fødes ville,
ske pris i evighed!
Du værdig Helligånd,
  oplyse mig
  evindelig,
at jeg dig skue kan.

Hov vægter! Klokken er slagen 3.
Nu skrider natten forte,
og dagen stunder til.
Gud, lad dem blive borte,
som os bedrøve vil!
Vor klokk' er slagen tre.
  O Fader from,
  vend du os om!
Din nåde os betee!

Hov vægter! Klokken er slagen 4.
Dig, evig Gud ske ære
i høje himmelkor,
som vægter ville være
for os på jorden bor.
Det ringer nu af Vagt!
  For natten god
  fald Gud til fod,
tag tiden vel i agt!

Play Video

National Meeting 2010