The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

The Boar's Head In Hand Bear I

For Christmas

Words and Music: English Traditional

Source: Christmas Carols, William Chappell, The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time. (London: Chappell & Co., 1859), pp. 750-758.

See: Notes On The Boar's Head Carols.

Note from Dr. Chappell: "From Dr. Rimbault’s Little Book of Christmas Carols. This carol possesses historical interest, as being still sung annually, on Christmas Day, at Queen’s College, Oxford."

The Boar's Head Carol

[Solo.] The Boar's head in hand bear I,
Bedeck'd with bays and rosemary,
And I pray you, my masters, be merry,
Quot estis in convivio.

Caput apri defero,
Reddens laudes Domino.

Solo. The boar’s head, as I understand,
Is the bravest dish in all the land
When thus bedeck’d with a gay garland,
Let us servire cantico.
Chorus. Caput apri, &c.

Solo. Our steward hath provided this
In honour of the King of Bliss;
Which on this day to be served is
In reginensi atrio.
Chorus. Caput apri, &c.

Note from Dr. Chappell:

The above are altered from the old words printed by Wynkin de Worde. In his day, every one was supposed to be able to sing. Mark the difference in the third line :—

“The bore’s heed in hande bring I,
With garlans gay and rosemary;
I pray you all synge merely
Qui estis in convivio.
Caput apri defero
Reddens laudes Domino.

The bore’s heed I understande,
Is the chefe servyce in this lande;
Loke, where ever it be fande
Servite cum cantico.
Caput apri, &c.

Be gladde, lordes, bothe more and lasse,
To chere you all this Christmasse,
For this hath ordeyned our stewarde,
The bore’s heed with mustarde.
Caput apri, &c.”

Notes:

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.

It is believed that the text given above is the same text that is sung today at Queen's College.

Sheet Music from William Henry Husk, Songs of the Nativity (London: John Camden Hotten, 1868)
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

Sheet Music from Martin Shaw and Percy Dearmer, The English Carol Book, Second Series (London: A. R. Mowbray & Co., Ltd., 1913), Carol #36
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Sheet Music from Edward F. Rimbault, A Little Book of Christmas Carols. London: Cramer, Beale & Co., 201, Regent Street, No Date (circa 1863).
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Sheet Music from William Wallace Fyfe, Christmas: It's Customs And Carols (London: James Blackwood, 1863), pp. 175-176.
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Sheet Music from John Richard Magrath, The Queen's College. Vol. 1 of 2 (1341-1646) (Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1921), pp. 240-241.

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Source: Christmas Carols, William Chappell, The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time. (London: Chappell & Co., 1859), pp. 750-758.
"From Dr. Rimbault’s Little Book of Christmas Carols."
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

757-Music.jpg (277476 bytes)

Nathan Boughton Warren, The Holidays: Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide; together with the May-day (Troy, NY: H. B. Nims and Company, 1876). The carol with music arranged by Rimbault is found on pp. 230 and 231.
MIDI / Noteworthy Composer / PDF

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