A prototype <i>in-situ</i> laser-absorption sensor for the real-time composition measurement (CO, CH<sub>4</sub>, H<sub>2</sub>O and CO<sub>2</sub>) of synthesis gas products of coal gasification (called here syngas) was designed, tested in the laboratory, and demonstrated during field-measurement campaigns in a pilot-scale entrained flow gasifier at the University of Utah and in an engineering-scale, fluidized-bed transport gasifier at the National Carbon Capture Center (NCCC). The prototype design and operation were improved by the lessons learned from each field test. Laser-absorption measurements are problematic in syngas flows because efficient gasifiers operate at elevated pressures (10-50 atm) where absorption transitions are collision broadened and absorption transitions that are isolated at 1 atm become blended into complex features, and because syngas product streams can contain significant particulate, producing significant non-absorption scattering losses of the transmission of laser light. Thus, the prototype sensor used a new wavelength-scanned, wavelength-modulation spectroscopy strategy with 2f-detection and 1f-normalization (WMS-2f/1f) that can provide sensitive absorption measurements of species with spectra blended by collision broadening even in the presence of large non-absorption laser transmission losses (e.g., particulate scattering, beam steering, etc.). The design of the sensor for detection of CO, CH<sub>4</sub>, H<sub>2</sub>O and CO<sub>2</sub> was optimized for the specific application of syngas monitoring at the output of large-scale gasifiers. Sensor strategies, results and lessons learned from these field measurement campaigns are discussed.