The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Boare Is Dead

The Christmas Prince, 1607

For Christmas

Source: Griffin Higgs, An Account of The Christmas Prince as it was Exhibited In The University of Oxford in the Year 1607 (London: T. Bensley and Son for Robert Triphook, 1815), pp. 23-25. "Now first published from the original manuscript." This source is often cited merely as "The Christmas Prince, 1607."

See: Notes On The Boar's Head Carols

The following text gives the carol in the context of his presentation.

From this time forward, and not before, the Prince was thought fully to be instal'd, and the forme of government fully established, in-so-much that none might or durst contradict anything which was appoynted by himself, or any of his officers.

The Holy-dayes beinge now at hand, his privye-chamber was provided and furnisht, wherein a chayre of state was placed upon a carpett with a cloth of state hanged over it, newly made for the same purpose. On Christmas Day in the morninge he was attended on to prayers by the whole companye of the Bacchelours, and some others of his Gentlemen Ushers, bare before him. At dinner beinge sett downe in the Hall at the high table in the Vice-president's place (for the President himself was then allso present) he was served with 20 dishes to a messe, all which were brought in by Gentlemen of the Howse attired in his Guard's coats, ushered in by the Lord Comptroller, and other Officers of the Hall. The first messe was a Boar's Head, which was carried by the tallest and lustiest of all the Guard, before whom (as attendants) wente first, one attired in a horseman's coate, with a Boars-speare in his hande,168 next to him an other Huntsman in greene, with a bloody faucion drawne; next to him 2 Pages in tafatye sarcenet, each of them with a messe of mustard; next to whome came hee that carried the Boares-head crost with a greene silk scarfe, by which hunge the empty scabbard of the faulcion which was carried before him. As they entered the Hall, he sang this Christmas Caroll, the three last verses of everie staffe beinge repeated after him by the whole companye:

1. The Boare is dead,
Loe, here is his head,
What man could have done more
Than his head off to strike,
Meleager like,
And bringe it as I doe before?

2. He livinge spoyled
Where good men toyled,
Which made kinde Ceres sorrye;
But now dead and drawne,
Is very good brawne,
And wee have brought it for you.

3. Then sett downe the Swineyard,
The foe to the Vineyard,
Lett Bacchus crowne his fall,
Lett this Boare's-head and mustard
Stand for Pigg, Goose, and Custard,
And so you are wellcome all.

At this time, as on all other Holy-dayes, the Princes allowed Musitions (which were sent for from Readinge, because our owne Town Musick had given us the slipp, as they use to doe at that time when we had most need of them) played all dinner time, and allso at supper. The Prince as ofte as hee satt in the Hall was attended on by a Commoner and Scholler of the Colledge in tafaty sarcenett. After supper there was a private Showe performed in the manner of an Interlude, contayninge the order of the Saturnalls, and shewinge the first cause of Christmas-candles, and in the ende there was an application made to the Day and Nativitie of Christ ....

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