IN 1567 Dr. Thomas Twyne (Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, in 1564) wrote a lengthy and eulogistic epitaph on Richard Edwards, describing him as 'the flower of all our realm and Phoenix of our age'. His musical powers are thus alluded to:
Thy tender tunes and rimes wherein thou wontest to play,
Each princely dame of Court and town shall bear in mind alway.
But Edwards is immortalized by Shakespeare ( Romeo and Juliet), who quotes his song, 'In Commendation of Musick'; and he is equally immortalized by reason of the words and music of his lovely madrigal, commencing:
In going to my naked bed, as one that would have slept,
I heard a wife sing to her child, that long before had wept.
Professor Wallace writes:
Edwards was by far the best poet that had graced the Court since the days of Cornish, and was his superior in both conception and expression. As lyricist, he was the highest achievement England had yet attained. His songs in manuscript, and those collected under his name in The Paradise of Dainty Devices, mellifluous and lilting as bird-music, were such as he sprinkled his plays with, and may generally have been intended for such entertainments. Both as lyricist and dramatist he added glory to the Chapel Royal as a centre of dramatic entertainment, and composed a number of plays or interludes which were acted by the Children before her Majesty ( The Evolution of the English Drama up to Shakespeare, Berlin, 1912).
Notwithstanding all this praise of Edwards, the biographical details are scanty until about the year 1560, when he was appointed