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This is unfinished writing that I hope to edit sometime in the future.


Robert Jones' Association with Thomas Campion*

Thomas Campion is known as England's only poet-musician and recognized as one the great lyric poets of the English language#. There are seven poems, known to be written by Thomas Campion, that were set to music and published by Robert Jones. There are likely other poems, of the some 90 poems by unknown authors in Robert Jones's books, that are the work of Thomas Campion.


Seven Poems Written by Thomas Campion Set to Music by Robert Jones

Blame not My Cheeks
When To Her Lute Corida Sings
My Love Bound Me With a Kiss
There Is A Garden In Her Face
Do Not Prize Thy
Now Let Her Change And Spare Not
Though Your Strangeness Frets My Heart


By the number of Campian lyrics, that Jones set, it would seem that they would have known each other well, however there is not much documentation of any association or friendship. When Campion set some of the poems, that had previously been set by Jones, to his own music and published them in c.1618, he merely wrote that they had been set by "others." Jones became a theatre business partner of the man thought to be Campion's best friend; Philip Rossetter. Maybe Campion was a friend of Jones or perhaps it is through Rossetter that Jones obtained some of Campion's lyrics.

'Blame not My Cheeks' and 'When To Her Lute Corida Sings' are both Campian lyrics, that were set by Campian himself, in 'Part I' of Rossetter's 'A Booke of Ayres' (1601). Robert Jones reset these two poems to his own music; 'Blame not My Cheeks' in his third book (1605) and 'When To Her Lute Corida' is in his madrigal book of 1607 (the first verse is madrigal XVI. When To Her Lute Corida Sings and the second verse is madrigal XVII. And As Her Lute Doth Live And Die). Setting a popular lyric to a new tune was often done in those times. Jones's source for the two lyrics could be 'A Poetical Rhapsody' (1602) where both these lyrics, along with many other lyrics that Jones set, in these two books of his are found. Jones was likely familiar with the Rossetter Book and his setting of 'When To Her Lute Corida,' as a madrigal, would offer something very different from Campion's lute song. Unfortunately only the two bottom parts of the madrigal survive and it cannot be reconstructed very accurately. It should be noted that in 1601 when Rossetter was publishing 'A Booke of Ayres' Campion was in Paris getting his doctors degree. (Oops in her liner notes of Elizabeth Kenny's CD 'Move now with measured sound - Thomas Campion (1567-1620)' she writes "Between 1602 and 1606 Campion studied medicine for a time at the University of Caen" I know that where and when Campion got his degree when Vivian wrote the first bio of Campain. I will check this fact later.)

Of the 21 poems in Jones's 'First Booke of Songs and Ayres', I would dismiss, out of hand, most of the lyrics by unknown authors, as not the type of thing Campian would write, with the exceptions of perhaps, 'XVI. Sweet Philomel' and "XX. Perplexed sore am I'. I might examined them in a future study.

The first significant Campian lyric comes in Robert Jones' second book 1601. This is air II 'My Love Bound Me With a Kiss'. This poem is a translation of one of five Campian Latin poems that were added to an edition of Philip Sidney's 'Astrophel and Stella' (1591). These five Latin poems, as far as is known, are the first works of Campian published. The English version of 'My Love Bound Me With a Kiss' is unique to Jones. We do not know whether it is Campian's original English version of the poem, which he translated into Latin, or if it is someones translation of the Latin poem into English.

In Jones third book (1605), Ayre IX, the previosly published 'Blame Not My Cheeks,' is immediately followed by his setting of 'There Is A Garden In Her Face' (air X). Richard Alison also set 'There Is A Garden In Her Face' as did Campian himself c. 1617, but Jones was the first it publish it.

Also, probably by Campion, is the first air in this third book of Jones, 'Do Not, O Do Not Prize Thy Beauty'. This has been suggested by Percival Vivian, who based his idea on Campion's writting style. Percival Vivian wrote the first book on Campion, called 'Campion's Works' (Oxford, 1909, repr. 1966) (E. Doughties's 'Lyrics from English Airs, 1596 -1622' which is an expantion of 'English Madrigal Verse' by Edmund H. Fellowes is the source for many of these attributions.)

In the duet sections of Jones's 3rd Book is Ayre XVII. Campion's ' Now Let Her Change And Spare Not.' The same year (1605) Jones published this lyric it was also published by Francis Pilkington. Campian didn't get around to publishing his own setting and claim of authorship to the lyric, until about 12 years later.

In Jones 4th book (1609) he set Campions' 'Though Your Strangeness Frets My Heart' which Campion was to set and publish c. 1613

Lutenists were not held in high esteem in Elizabethan society. Peter Warlock's 'The English Ayre' (1926) still has the longest writing on Robert Jones. Warlock writes that Jones "came in for a great deal of adverse criticism." Thomas Campion comes across as having been a very critical person, even when you subtract the , influence of the critical Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis, born 38 AD). In Campion's Latin writing he exhibits a bit of upper class snobbery and disdain for actors. In these Latin writings there is no mention, even, of Philip Rossetter, and so there is no hope of finding anything about Jones. Thomas Campion, an orphan of upper-class parents, went to Cambridge and was admitted to Grey's Inn but Jones, even himself having gone to Oxford, seems to have not fit into as high a class as Campian. Warlock writes;
"Now Jones was of the secular tradition, a descendant of the minstrel of the Middle Ages, whose music, enjoyed by the multitude of high and low degree, was no doubt viewed with contempt by the respectable professionals of the rival tradition [the ecclesiastical musical profession] more especially as the medieval minstrel and ... his later counterpart were looked upon as rather disreputable members of society. ...
The fact of his having taken a musical degree tends to show that Jones had a strong desire to be accounted a serious musician of the established order, but his genius led him in another direction ..."
If is often our friends that are our biggest critics and no one is usually more critical than someone whose art we are improving and so I think that one of Robert Jones's biggest critics was Thomas Campion. Jones did not live on Fetter Lane as both Rossetter and Campion did but in Puddle Wharf around the corner to a bald poet. Latin epigramist like John Stradling and John Owen enjoyed poking fun at bald poets. Robert Jones would likely be driven more to associate with and feel comfortable in the company of such low life as bald poet William Shakespeare who was never mentioned by Thomas Campion either.



A Comparison of The Musical Compositions of Thomas Campian with Those of Robert Jones

In an article, (I can't find it now but it is the same type of article as the one in 'Music and Letters' v.7-8 1927 "The Text Of The Song-Books Of Robert Jones") E. H. Fellowes compared settings of the same poem set by different composers. A few of these Campian poems set by both Robert Jones and Campian were compared. Fellowes compares the treatment of the poems by Jones favorably to what Campion did himself.

Dr. Fellowes concludes with a comparison of Campian's setting of his poem 'I must complain' with Dowland's setting. ('I must complain' is published in Dowland's 'The Third Booke of Songs' (1603) and in Campian's 'The Fourth Book of Ayres' (c.1618) - air XVII.) In Fellowes analysis John Dowland, the master, comes out on top. The public is just starting to get some access to recordings of these works and I have listened to the Michael Chance and Nigel North's recording (English Ayres by Thomas Campion - The English Ayre released in 2000 on Linn Records.) of Campian's 'I must complain' and Por Cantione Antiqua's recording (Airs Britanica TELDEC 1980-89) of Dowland's version. I sometime prefer the simpler Campion setting to the madrigal like Dowland setting.

Many of Campian's settings of his poems have recently become available on CDs but none of Jones's settings of Campian's poems (as far as I know) are available. I may soon make a midi file of 'Blame not my cheeks' available and may soon begin to record some of these songs for study. For me it is difficult to compare sheet music and a piece of music changes very much as I play it and start to understand it better. A great performer can bring life to even an ordinary work

There is a lot of life that can be brought into many great works of Robert Jones - Unfortunately many great works have been sitting on paper for as long as 400 years.



Patrick Thomas Connolly 2002
Second writing March 21, 1988, typed April 10, 2000, edited August 16, 2001, April 27 June, 2002.
*In his day Campion's name was spelled either 'Campian' or 'Campion.' Thus in this site I will very the spelling at my whim.
The hymnbook of United Church Of Canada has a hymn by Thomas Campion in it.
'English Poetry And Prose 1540-1674' - The Penguin History of Literature, Edited by Christpher Ricks, page 96. #"...short metrically subtle stanzaic lyrics. Here the great master is Thomas Campion ... Campion is one of the pure larks of the English toungue ..." The Lyric (i) The Poetry by Alicia Ostriker