The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Borys Hede That We Bryng Here

For Christmas

Words and Music attributed to Rev. Richard Smart (or Smerte), Rector (1435-1477) of Plymtree, Devon, and vicar-choral at Exeter Cathedral (1428-ca. 1466). The time of composition was during the reigns of Henry VII or VIII; it was found in the "Ritson Manuscript," British Library MS. Addit 5665, fol. 5, v0.

Music: Attributed to Richard Smert, Devonshire, circa 15th Century.
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

See: Notes On The Boar's Head Carols

Source: Joseph Ritson, Observations on the Three First Volumes of the History of English Poetry (London: J. Stockdale, 1782), pp. 36-37, from a manuscript in his possession. Ritson's manuscript would later be donated to the British Library, "Addit. MS. 5665."

In die natiuitat[is].

Nowell, nowell, nowell, nowell,
Tydyng[is] gode y thyngke to telle.

The borys hede that we bryng here,
Betokeneth a prnce with owte pere,
Ys born this day to bye v[us] dere.
Nowell, &c.

A bore ys a souerayn beste
And acceptab[l]e in eury feste
So mote thys lord be to moste & leste.
Nowell, &c.

This borys hede we bryng wt song
In worchyp of hym that thus sprang
Of a virgine to redresse all wrong.
Nowell, &c.

Sheet Music from John Stafford Smith, Musica Antiqua. Vol. 1. (London: Printed & Sold by Preston, 1812), #22.

Borys_heed-Smith-Musica_Antiqua-Vol_1-p22.jpg (128797 bytes)

This music is also found in John Stevens, ed., Medieval Carols, Vol. IV of the series Musica Britannica, London: Stainer & Bell, 1958 (Second Revised Edition), #79, p. 66.

Sheet music from Edmonstoune Duncan, The Story of the Carol (London: The Walter Scott Publishing Co., 1911), pp. 188-189 ("with thanks to Dr. John Speller")
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

In this version, the first line of the first verse reads:
"The boar's head that I bring here."

Editor's Note:

For notes concerning this carol, please see The Boar's Head, That We Bring Here (Husk, 1868).

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