Lachrimae, or Seaven Teares

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Front page of Lachrimae or Seaven Teares Figured in Seaven Passionate Pavans.

Lachrimæ or seaven teares figured in seaven passionate pavans, with divers other pavans, galliards and allemands, set forth for the lute, viols, or violons, in five parts is a collection of instrumental music composed by John Dowland. It was published by John Windet in London in 1604 when Dowland was employed as lutenist to Christian IV of Denmark. The publication was dedicated to Anne of Denmark.

The title page of Lachrimæ is adorned with a Latin epigram: "Aut Furit, aut Lachrimat, quem non Fortuna beavit" ("He whom Fortune has not blessed either rages or weeps"). Dowland points out in his dedication that there are different types of tears. “The teares which Musicke weeps” can be pleasant; “neither are teares shed always in sorrow but sometime in joy and gladnesse”.


As the title suggests, the music is scored for five viols, or violins (that is, members of the violin family) and lute.

Lachrimae pavans[edit]

The seven pavans are variations on a theme, the "Lachrimæ pavan", which Dowland had already made well known as a lute solo and a song. The pavan was reworked into the song "Flow my tears" in Dowland's Second Book of Songs (1600). [1] It begins with a "falling tear" motif of four notes.

The harmonies are intense with the lines weaving close together. Each of the Lachrimæ pavans was given its own title by the composer. There has been speculation that they form some sort of narrative, though the meaning of such a musical journey is uncertain.

  • "Lachrimæ Antiquae" (Old tears) already existed as a lute solo and a song.
  • "Lachrimæ Antiquae Novæ" (Old tears renewed) is a harmonic parody of "Lachrimæ Antiquæ".
  • "Lachrimæ Gementes" (Sighing tears)
  • "Lachrimæ Tristes" (Sad tears)
  • "Lachrimæ Coactae" (Forced tears) is a harmonic parody of Lachrimæ Tristes.
  • "Lachrimæ Amantis" (A Lover's tears)
  • "Lachrimæ Veræ" (True tears)

Other compositions[edit]

The "divers other" compositions included in the Lachrimae publication include some lively pieces, galliards, which contrast with the sombre music of the pavans. They are dedicated to people of varying social rank, including the pirate Digorie Piper.[2]

The pieces are:

  • "Semper Dowland semper Dolens"
  • "Sir Henry Umpton's Funeral"
  • "M.John Langton's Pavan"
  • "The King of Denmark's Galliard"
  • "The Earl of Essex Galliard" (dedicated to Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex)
  • "Sir John Souch his Galliard"
  • "M.Henry Noel his Galliard"
  • "M.Giles Hobies his Galiard"
  • "M.Nicholas Gryffith his Galliard"
  • "M.Thomas Collier his Galliard with 2 Trebles"
  • "Captain Digorie Piper his Galliard"
  • "M.Bucton's Galliard"
  • "Mistress Nichol's Allemand"
  • "M.George Whitehead his Almand"


  • Peter Holman with Paul O'Dette. "John Dowland", Grove Music, ed. L. Macy. ISBN 0-333-60800-3
  • Peter Holman, Dowland: Lachrimae (1604), ISBN 978-0-521-58196-7


  1. ^ Diana Poulton. "John Dowland" 2nd Edition. University of California Press. 1982, p.124)
  2. ^ Seymour, Claire. "John Dowland". Opera Today. Retrieved 28 July 2014.