King's Singers

The Boar's Head Carol
The Boar's Head is probably the oldest continuing festival of the Christmas season. This pageant is rooted in the 1300's when the boar was sovereign of the forest. A ferocious beast and menace to humans it was hunted as a public enemy. Like our thanksgiving turkey, roasted boar was a staple of medieval banquets. As Christian beliefs overtook pagan customs in Europe, the presentation of a boar's head at Christmas came to symbolize the triumph of the Christ Child over sin.

Here is a version of the Carol
performed by
"The King's Choir"

(1.5 MB)
Each year out of all England and its rich tradition there are just fourteen young men appointed choral scholars to King's College, Cambridge. In 1965 six decided to cut an album and since have become one of the world's most popular vocal groups. They have shared the stage with a diverse selection of most notable musicians such as Placido Domingo, The Boston Pops Orchestra, jazz musicians Art Farmer and Bill Dobbins, Paul McCartney and many others.

Queens College Version, Oxford, England first published 1521

The boar's head in hand bear I
Bedecked with bays and rosemary
I pray you, my masters, be merry
Quot estis in convivio (so many as are in the feast)

CHORUS: Caput apri defero, Reddens laudes domino
(the boar's head I bring, giving praises to God)
The boar's head, as I understand,
Is the rarest dish in all this land,
Which thus bedecked with a gay garland
Let us servire cantico.
(let us serve with a song)

Our steward hath provided this
In honor of the King of bliss
Which, on this day to be served is
In Reginensi atrio: (in the Queen's hall)