Hyperion Records

Ah, helpless wretch
The verse anthems Ah, helpless wretch and The secret sins show the composer adapting late in life and with considerable verve to a new form which would be of enormous significance for the future history of English church music. The essential novelty here is the presence of an independent accompaniment—adapted for organ and church use from the secular lute or viol consort—to a single voice echoed by the full choir. Mundy, with Richard Farrant and Byrd, was the first to develop this genre, which appears to derive from the hugely popular choirboy plays mounted by such as Farrant with choristers from St Paul’s, the Chapel Royal or Windsor. These last had their own theatre at Blackfriars, as well as being hired out for city functions, and were ambiguously celebrated by Shakespeare in Hamlet and excoriated by puritans: ‘Even in her Majesty’s Chapel do these pretty, upstart youths profane the Lord’s Day by the lascivious writhing of their tender limbs, and gorgeous decking of their apparel, in feigning bawdy fables gathered from the idolatrous heathen poets …’—in the case of Ah, helpless wretch none other than the author of The poore Widowes mite, one Christopher Hunnis, Master of the Choristers of the Chapel Royal after Farrant, who wrote the play from which the song comes in 1583.

from notes by Nicolas Robertson 1989

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Details for CDS44401/10 disc 10 track 4
Artists
ISRC
GB-AJY-89-31904
Duration
5'59
Recording date
9 August 1988
Recording venue
All Hallows, Gospel Oak, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Mark Brown
Recording engineer
Antony Howell
Hyperion usage
  1. Mundy: Sacred Choral Music (CDA66319)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: July 1989
    Deletion date: September 2002
    Superseded by CDH55086
  2. Mundy: Sacred Choral Music (CDH55086)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: September 2002
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label)
  3. The Sixteen & The Golden Age of Polyphony (CDS44401/10)
    Disc 10 Track 4
    Release date: November 2009
    10CDs Boxed set (at a special price)
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