A contemporary of Mundy, Robert White (c1538-1574) was a promising young musician whose life was cut short by a plague epidemic in London. His colleague Robert Dow, who made a personal copy of White’s motets, left an epitaph for him in the manuscript: ‘Greatest glory of our muses, White: you perish, but your muse remains for ever’. Like Mundy, White also set ‘Tota pulchra es’, a colourful text that was traditionally applied to the Virgin Mary. And like Mundy’s Vox Patris caelestis
, this piece shows the most unrestrained side of English devotion to the Virgin Mary—and perhaps also to her royal namesake. White’s setting is for six voices in a rather backward-looking style, with the plainsong melody always present in the baritone part and a relatively wide vocal range (F-g’’). The effect is expansive and lyrical, in contrast with the denser texture and continuous points of imitation that feature so prominently in many of White’s psalm-motets.
from notes by Kerry McCarthy © 2014