Richard Edwards was an English composer. He was Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal in London under Henry VIII, and an honorary member of Lincoln's Inn.
The music for Tudor masques was composed by the leading musical figures at court: the Master of the Chapel Royal, members of the King's Musick or the organist of St Paul's. The musical performers were the instrumental consorts, choirboys and ‘singing-men’ of the King's Musick and the Chapel Royal, and on occasion the musicians and boys of St Paul's and Westminster Abbey. The vocal music consisted of consort songs to viols, lute-songs, partsongs for two to six voices and other more popular forms. The dances included a variety of measures, pavans, galliards, corantos, voltas, branles and country dances. Undoubtedly some of this music survives in manuscript and printed collections of the period, but specific identifications are difficult, perhaps even impossible. During the period of the Reformation, secular entertainments may have provided extra employment for the members of the choral establishments, whose liturgical activity had been curtailed. Richard Edwards's play with music Palaemon and Arcyte was performed for the royal visit to Oxford in 1566. He also wrote simple partsongs, such as When griping griefs (in the Mulliner Book), which was among the forerunners of many ‘light ayres’ by Campion, Rosseter and Ford. In such pieces as these, with their straightforward melodies and chordal texture, the accompaniment can be provided equally well by voices or by a chord-playing instrument, and so it is not surprising that there are arrangements of some of these partsongs for voice and lute. There is a setting of the Lord’s Prayer by Edwards in Day’s Psalter of 1563; the tune is the ‘Vater unser’, melody later used by J.S. Bach (first printed in Valentin Schumann’s Geistliche Lieder, 1539; first English printing in Psalmes of David, 1560).
Richard Edwards was succeeded as Master of the Chapel by the English poet, dramatist and composer William Humnis.