Born: ca. 1575
Died: post 1614
Not much is known about Bennet’s life. It is possible he was born in the north-west of England, perhaps around Lancashire or Cheshire. His 1599 volume of madrigals is dedicated to Ralph Assheton, who worked in both these counties, which might suggest that Bennet spent his youth around that region.
It seems likely that Bennet spent his working life in London. The 1599 volume of madrigals was published in the city, although this isn’t enough evidence on its own. Some of Bennet’s madrigals have some stylistic similarity to those of Thomas Morley, who was organist of St. Paul’s in the 1590s. Combined with the inclusion of one of Bennet’s pieces in Morley’s 1601 publication ‘The Triumphs of Oriana’, this might suggest the possibility that Morley and Bennet were acquainted. If so, this would suggest that Bennet was based in London by the beginning of the 17th century. However, there is currently no concrete evidence of this.
The last publication featuring new music by Bennet was Thomas Ravenscroft’s ‘A Briefe Discourse’, dating from 1614. From this, we can infer that Bennet died in 1614 or later. However, no record of his burial has yet been found.
Bennet’s surviving music consists almost entirely of secular madrigals and consort songs, a number of which are still popular in the modern day. His madrigal ‘Weep, O mine eyes’ is especially well-known. However, Bennet also wrote a number of sacred works. These include simple psalm settings, elaborate festal psalms (akin to anthems), sacred songs, and the grand verse anthem ‘O God of Gods’, with versions for organ accompaniment and viol consort.
List of choral works
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- Madrigals for Four Voices (London, 1599)
- The Triumphs of Oriana (1601) 1 madrigal - All creatures now are merry-minded
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