Born in Lincolnshire, he studied music as an organ scholar at St Chad's College, University of Durham before working as a teacher of music and English, firstly at Pangbourne College (1981–1990) then as Composer in Residence for Charterhouse School (1990–1997).
His first major work, the oratorio The Wedding at Cana, was first performed by the Pangbourne College Choral Society in 1990. One of the highlights of the work is the magical duet from the ninth movement The Waters of Love.
He left teaching to pursue his career in composing. In 2002 he wrote his first film score The Incredible Mrs Ritchie, directed by Paul Johansson. His debut album Blue in Blue, a collection of choral and orchestral pieces, was released in 2004. Made CD of the week on Classic FM in 2004, it was nominated for a Classical Brit award and was voted by Classic FM listeners as the fastest ever and highest new entry into the station’s Hall of Fame. The first track on the album Quanta Qualia was subsequently chosen by Hayley Westenra for her 2005 album Odyssey.
From 2006 to 2007 Hawes was Composer in Residence at Classic FM. This position involved writing twelve pieces for piano, with the pieces premiered over a twelve-month period. The pieces were inspired by his move to the Norfolk coast and by the skies and landscapes of the county. The resulting album Towards the Light was voted by Classic FM listeners as the highest new entry in the 2007 Hall of Fame. A national tour followed.
April 2009 saw the release of Hawes’s third album Song of Songs which consists of six choral pieces for strings and voices along with other works for choir and organ. The recording features the English Chamber Orchestra, Hawes’s own choir Conventus and the soprano Elin Manahan Thomas. Hawes joined forces with Thomas once again, and also with Julian Lloyd Webber, for his subsequent album Fair Albion: Visions of England. Both of these releases were made CD of the Week on Classic FM within a six-month period.
Hawes was commissioned by HRH The Prince of Wales to write the Highgrove Suite in 2009. This began as a one-movement work for harp and strings and was premiered at Covent Garden on the Prince’s sixtieth birthday by the royal harpist Claire Jones and the Philharmonia Orchestra. Three pieces for the same forces completed the suite, each inspired by an aspect of HRH’s garden at Highgrove House. The suite premiered at Highgrove on 8 June 2010. A BBC2 Alan Titchmarsh documentary about the gardens at Highgrove and the musical process and aired on 23 September 2010.
In 2011, Hawes was commissioned to write a piece for the Lancaster Festival Ohio in the United States, for which he produced Te Deum. Hawes was present at the American premiere in July 2011. The UK premiere was in Rochester Cathedral on 3 November 2012.
Hawes's biggest work to date is his Lazarus Requiem. Premiered at the Cadogan Hall, London in 2008, the work was recorded in January 2012 by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Exeter Philharmonic Choir, Exeter Cathedral Choir and the soloists Thomas Walker, Elin Manahan Thomas, Rachael Lloyd, and Julian Rippon. The cathedral premiere took place in Exeter on 17 March 2012. The work intersperses the traditional Latin Requiem text with an account in English of the raising of Lazarus from St John’s Gospel.
In 2013, Hawes signed to Decca Records  and his album with them, Angel, was released on 3 March 2014 and reached Number One in the classical charts. Recorded with soprano Grace Davidson, the Choir of New College, Oxford and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra the album depicts angels in their many forms.
As part of the commemorations of remembrance to mark the First World War, Hawes was commissioned by the Sheringham & Cromer Choral Society in Norfolk to write a large-scale work for choir and orchestra based on the life of nurse Edith Cavell, a heroine of the war who saved many hundreds of soldiers at great risk to herself. The work, Eventide: In Memoriam Edith Cavell was premiered in Norwich Cathedral in July 2014. Hawes was commissioned to write a work for the Aliquando Choir of Henley-upon-Thames based on the words of the Wilfred Owen poem I know the Music for their commemoration of the First World War in November 2014. Another work written by Hawes to commemorate the first battle of the First World War was entitled The Angel of Mons. It premiered in his brother's church in Edenham, Lincolnshire on 23 August 2014, the centenary of the date on which the apparition of the Angel of Mons was said to have occurred.
In 2015, Hawes produced his clarinet concerto for Emma Johnson which Gramophone called "musically nourishing...a fine work...gorgeous..." In 2017 he wrote Musica Dei Donum for the ensemble The King's Singers.
In 2018, he recorded and premiered his largest work to date: The Great War Symphony. This work is a choral symphony in four movements, with each movement depicting a year of World War I. On its release in September 2018, the recording reached No.1 in the Specialist Classical Charts. The work received its World Premiere at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 9 October 2018 and its US premiere at Carnegie Hall in New York on 11 November 2018 (Armistice Day).
He currently lives near the Norfolk coast, and is inspired by the beauty of nature, English literature and heritage, and his Christian faith. Hawes remains a keen organist, holding the Fellowship award from the Royal College of Organists.
- The Call (1999; soprano, orchestra)
- The Blue Bird Variations (2002; soloists, choir, orchestra)
- Pavane from "The Incredible Mrs Ritchie" (2002; guitar, chamber orchestra)
- Quanta Qualia (2004; choir)
- Towards the Light (2006; piano)
- Song of Songs (2008; soloist, choir, string orchestra / quintet & harp)
- Hearts of England (2008; soloist; orchestra)
- Lazarus Requiem (2008; soloists, choir, semi-choir, orchestra, baritone saxophone)
- Highgrove Suite (2010; string orchestra)
- Te Deum (2011; soloists, choir, orchestra)
- Morfudd Song Cycle (2012; soloist, piano)
- Eventide: In Memoriam Edith Cavell (2014; soloist, choir, orchestra)
- The Angel of Mons (2014; soloist, choir, orchestra)
- The Edenham Eucharist (2016; celebrant, congregation, organ and optional SATB choir)
- Clarinet Concerto (2015; clarinet soloist, orchestra)
- Revelation (2017; unaccompanied SATB choir)
- Beatitudes (2017; SATB choir, piano)
- The Great War Symphony (2018; soloists, choir, orchestra)
- Blue in Blue (2004) – Black Box BBM1081
- Blue in Blue (2005) – Universal Classics and Jazz UCJ 4763020 (re-release plus new recordings)
- Quanta Qualia (2005) – Decca 4757157
- Towards the Light (2006) – Sony
- Towards the Light (2010) – Decca CFM FW 148
- Song of Songs (2009) – Signum SIGCD162
- Fair Albion (2009) – Signum SIGCD178
- Highgrove Suite (2010) – Classic FM / Decca CFMD16
- The Lazarus Requiem (2012) – Signum SIGCD282
- Angel (2014) – Decca 3742046
- Revelation (2017) – Naxos 8.573720
- The Great War Symphony (2018) – Classic FM / Decca CFMD64
- Justin Gummer; Pangbourne College 1989-92
- Evans, Martin (10 April 2010). "Prince Charles commissions classical concert to celebrate Highgrove gardens". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- Classic FM - Patrick Hawes: Composer biography. Accessed 19 April 2014
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- "News - Patrick Hawes: New Album and deal with Decca - Music Sales Classical". Musicsalesclassical.com. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100 - Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- Pullinger, Mark (9 August 2016). "An English Fantasy". Gramophone.co.uk. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- "HAWES, P.: Revelation / Beatitudes (The Elora Singers, Edison) - 8.573720". Naxos.com. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- "The Great War Symphony". Patrickhawes.com. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- "Official Specialist Classical Chart Top 30 - Official Charts Company". Officialcharts.com. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- "Classic FM Live: The Great War Symphony in pictures". Classic FM. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- "Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) presents The Great War: Commemorating 100 Years in Review - New York Concert Review, Inc". Nyconcertreview.com. Retrieved 12 January 2019.
- "Interview: Patrick Hawes", Church Times, 21 March 2014. Accessed 19 April 2014