The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

Now We Have Washed The Floor

Translator Unknown

Words: Julekveldsvise, Alf Proysen, Norway

Music: Arnljot H°yland

1. Now we have washed the floor, and we have carried wood.
The birds have got their sheaf of grain and we have trimmed the tree.
Let's sit down here and rest, and take a little pause,
While I rock the cradle, so brother gets a nap.

2. Now to the window pull up the bench, let's rest a spell;
We'll search to find the Christmas star, wherever she might be.
he brightest of them all, it is so clear and grand.
You'll see it o'er the rooftop where midwife Matja lives.

3. So good and kind that star is; it winks now, can you see?
And now I want to tell you more, so listen carefully:
The first time that she shone, she formed a bridge so bright,
Connecting earth to heaven, a manager and a cow.

4. So small and good the baby who in the cradle lay.
His mama took good care of him; his papa stood and smiled,
While shepherd boys around him did scurry back and forth.
The brought their little lambs, for the tiny boy to see.

5. And even the three Wisemen, they rode for many days,
Though no one knew the way, or to which place they were to go.
The Christmas star shone bright as it moved across the sky.
Not getting lost, they found Him; the star had been their guide.

6. That night was the first time, the Christmas star shed light
Now watch it radiating oe'r the peoples of our world.
Whatever happens to us, the lofty star stays bright.
You'll find her oe'r the rooftop where midwife-Matja lives.

Graphic Line

Clement A. Miles, Christmas in Ritual and Tradition, Christian and Pagan (London: T. Fisher, Unwin, 1912), reprinted in 1976 by Dover Publications, Christmas Customs and Traditions: Their History and Significance, p. 289:

"It is pleasant to note that animals are often specially cared for at Christmas. Up till the early nineteenth century the cattle in Shropshire were always better fed at Christmas than at other times, and Miss Burne tells of an old gentlemen in Cheshire who used then to give his poultry a double portion of grain, for, he said, "all creation should rejoice at Christmas, and the dumb creatures had no other manner of doing so." The saying reminds one of that lover of Christmas and the animals, St. Francis of Assisi. It will be remembered how he wished that oxen and asses should have extra corn and hay at Christmas, "for reverence of the Son of God, whom on such a night the most Blessed Virgin Mary did lay down in the stall betwixt the ox and the ass." It was a gracious thought, and no doubt with St. Francis, as with the old Cheshireman, it was a purely Christian one; very possibly, however, the original object of such attention to the dumb creatures was to bring to the animals, by means of the corn, the influence of the spirit of fertility.

"In Silesia on Christmas night all the beasts are given wheat to make them thrive, and it is believed that if wheat be kept in the pocket during the Christmas service and then given to fowls, it will make them grow fat and lay many eggs. In Sweden on Christmas Eve the cattle are given the best forage the house can afford, and afterwards a mess of all the viands of which their masters have partaken; the horses are given the choicest hay and, later on, ale; and the other animals are treated to good things.

"At Loblang in Hungary the last sheet at harvest is kept, and given on New Year's morning to the wild birds. In southern Germany corn is put on the roof to them on Christmas eve, or, as also in Sweden, an unthreshed sheaf is set on a pole. In these cases it is possible that the food was originally an offering to ancestral or other spirits."


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