Lawes, Henry


English musician; was born at Dinton, Wiltshire. He was instructed in music by Giovanni Coperario (Cooper). He was sworn in as gentleman of the Royal Chapel of Charles I., either in 1625 or 1626, and afterwards became clerk of the cheque and member of the King's band. In 1633 he composed the music for a masque which was performed at court and in which the two sons of Earl Bridgewater took part. Probably this event brought Lawes before the Earl's notice, for after this he became musicteacher in the family. As an entertainment for Michaelmas night at Ludlow Castle he composed the music for Milton's Comus and acted the part of the Attendant Spirit. Milton was probably his pupil, and gives him much praise in several of his poems. In 1636 Lawes set to music the songs in Cartwright's Royal Slaves, which was performed before the King at Oxford. The next year appeared a " Paraphrase upon the Psalmes of David, by G. S. (George Sandys), Set  to New Tunes for Private Devotion, and a Thorough-Base, for voice or Instrument." In 1638 he wrote to Milton of his permission to go abroad. In 1648 was published a work in four books, a setting of the Choice Psalmes put into Musick for Three Voices, t contains a portrait of Charles I., supposed to be the last issued in his lifetime. Ayres and Dialogues contains a fine portrait of Lawes by Faithorne. The fact that his settings of the Psalmes of 1637 and 1648 are without bars, while his Ayres of 1652 and 1653 have them, seem to indicate that he was one of the first to adopt the invention. The last-named work was so well received that in 1655 he published another under the same title, followed in 1658 by still another. During the Civil War Lawes lost all his appointments, regaining them, however, at the Restoration. He composed the anthem, Zadok, the Priest, for the Coronation of Charles II. He died in 1662 and was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey. Lawes will always be remembered as the first Englishman who studied and practised with success the proper accentuation of words, and who made the sense of the poem of first importance. This may possibly have come about through his intimacy with so many of the best poets of the day. In his day he was highly esteemed both as a composer and performer. Many of his songs are to be found in Select Musical Ayres and Dialogues, 1652, 1653 and 1659, and The Treasury of Musick, 1669, besides many others, which are in manuscript collections in the British Museum.