Perhaps the best known English lutenist of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, John Dowland (1563? – 1626) wrote numerous pieces for the lute, as a solo and ensemble instrument, including Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares figvred in Seaven Passionate Pavans. Written in 1604, this piece was his final exploration of the popular melody that he had previously used in the lute pavan, “Lachrimae” (1596), and the lute song, “Flow my teares” (1600). Seaven Teares, for five viols and lute, is a series of seven variations whose provocative Latin titles, like Lachrimae Gementes and Lachrimae Verae, have caused some scholars to speculate that the music symbolizes either Elizabethan melancholy or the Fall of Man. However, as seventeenth-century scholarship suggests, the Elizabethan concept of melancholy was intrinsically connected to their perception of the Fall, and a close examination of Dowland’s Seaven Teares corroborates their relationship.


John Dowland, Elizabethan Melancholy, Fall of Man, Lachrimae, Renaissance Music

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