The works of John Dowland

Psalms and spiritual songs

During his lifetime John Dowland also composed some few spiritual songs. 13 psalms, canticles and prayers were harmonized by him.

In 1592 The Whole Booke of Psalmes by Thomas Est was reissued in an entirely new format and with the harmonizations by ten composers of the time (one of them was Dowland).
With few exceptions the music runs note for syllable, the harmony moves in chordal structure and vocalizations are entirely absent. The pieces were compiled for the "unskillfull".
Dowland´s contribution to this book consists of the following six works:

A marked contrast to these settings present Dowland´s seven psalms in the book Lamentatio Henrici Noel (1596).
Here Dowland was not writing for the "unskillfull". With performance by the professional choir at Westminster Abbey in mind, he was able to write without the need to avoid technical difficulties.
The book contains the following seven psalms:

There are three tunes for which no origin has been found. They may have been composed by John Dowland himself. These tunes are: