English composer. Chorister at St Paul's Cathedral under Pearce in the 1590s. BMus. (Cambridge) 1607. Ravenscroft taught music at Christ's Hospital in 1618-22, and in 1621 published a collection of psalms composed by himself and others entitled The whole Booke of Psalmes with the Hymnes Evangelicall and Songs Spirituall.This was an important addition to the list of psalters; it contained 105 harmonizations of which twenty-eight appeared before and fifty-one are by Ravenscroft. The composers drawn on for the other settings include Alison, Blancks, Bennet,Cavendish, Dowland, Farnaby, Farmer, Kirbye, John Milton (father of the poet), Morley, Peerson, Tallis, Thomas Tomkins, John Ward, and others.
Ravenscroft was also responsible for the preservation of the largest collection of popular vocal music in his three printed catch books: Pammelia(1609), Deuteromalia(1609), and Melismata(1611). The works were clearly intended for a popular audience; it is not clear whether they appealed to the same people as took an interest in the madrigal, or whether the publishers were trying to reach a new audience. These works became the longest surviving collections of English popular song.
Published Works: Pammelia. Musick's Miscellanie 1609; Deuteromelia: or the Second part of Musick's Melodie 1609; Melismata 1611; A Briefe Discourse of the true (but neglected) use of Charact'ring the Degrees of Perfection 1614; and The Whole Booke of Psalmes 1621.