Ramsey was probably born at some time during the 1590s but the first reliable record we have of him is at Cambridge from 1612. He seems to have spent his entire adult life at Cambridge taking a B.Mus in 1616 and being appointed organist at organist of Trinity College, Cambridge from 1628 until his death in 1644. He also held the post of Master of the Children at the college from 1637. All of this argues that he was a talented musician well respected by his peers. His madrigal motet When David heard, is one of the many musical expressions of grief at the death of Henry Prince of Wales, King James I's first son from composers throughout England and Scotland. The text is taken from the Bible and tells of Kind David's reaction to the news of the death of his son Absalon, everyone who heard this being sung or who read the the text would have understood that King James was represented by David and that Absalon was Henry his son.
When David heard that Absalon was slain,
he went up to his chamber over the gate,
and wept, and as he went thus he said:
O my son Absalon, Absalon,
would to God I had died for thee,
O Absalon my son, my son.
Unlike many of the other expressions of grief this one was meant for private performance. It's a beautifully crafted piece of music, deceptively simple, but very lovely. It's sung below by The Sixteen. Enjoy :-).
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