The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Boar's Head In Hand Bring I

For Christmas

See generally Boar's Head Carols

Source: Joshua Sylvester, A Garland of Christmas Carols, Ancient and Modern (London: John Camden Hotten, 1861)

Caput Aprl defero
Reddens laudes Domino

The boar's head in hand bring I,
With garlands gay and rosemary
I pray you all sing merrily,
Qui estis in convivio.

The boar's head, I understand,
Is the chief service in this land ;
Look wherever it be found,
Servite cum cantico.

Be glad, lords, both more or less,
For this hath ordained our steward
To cheer you all this Christmas,
The boar's head with mustard. 1


1 The imprint on the leaf which has preserved us this Carol is : " Thus endeth the Christmasse Carroles, newely enprinted at Londo. in fletestrete at the sygne of the sonne by Wynkin de Worde. The yere of our lorde, M.D.XXI."

Translations of the Latin from Adams, Round About Our Coal Fire (ca. 1860)

W. H. Davenport Adams provided these handy Latin translations for those of us who were unable to take a course of study in this ancient tongue.

1. Quot estis in convivio. = Ye who are now at the feast.
2. Caput Apri defero | Reddens laudes Domino. - I bring the boar's head, returning praise to the Lord.
3. Let us servire cantico. = Let us serve it with a song.
4. In Reginensi Atrio. = In the Queen's Hall.

Translations from W. H. Davenport Adams, Round About Our Coal Fire (London: James Blackwood, no date; "1860" written in pen, and the date of the Preface), p. 163.

Sylvester's Note:

This Carol is "taken from a single leaf, all that has been preserved, of a book of Carols printed by Wynkin de Worde in 1521. It is there entitled, " A Carol, brynging in the Bore's Head." This antique ceremony was observed up to a very recent period in Queen's College, Oxford, but with this considerable improvement indeed, that the Boar's head was neatly carved in wood.

Also found in William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868).


Note that Hugh Keyte, an editor of The New Oxford Book of Carols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992) believes that "Joshua Sylvester" is a pseudonym for a collaboration between William Sandys (1792-1874) and William Henry Husk (1814-1887). See Appendix 4.

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