Vox Patris caelestis
was written during Queen Mary’s reign (1553–1558) and so is exactly contemporary with the Missa Papae Marcelli
. It can be so precisely dated because it was written in a style which was unacceptable to the Protestant Tudor monarchs – Edward VI and Elizabeth I – and Mundy was too young to have written it in Henry VIII’s reign. The Catholic musical style which Mary encouraged was a very different one from the Papacy’s ideal in the 1550s: Mundy composed on an enormous scale and to him the audibility of the words was of secondary importance beside the free expansion of the melodies, though he clearly appreciated the sensual connotations of his text, which is adapted from the Song of Solomon, as in, for instance, the repetitions of the word ‘Veni’.
The underlying structure of the music is of the greatest importance to its effect, and for this reason we have printed the words divided into their sections. The solos build gradually to the three full sections, of which the last is the climax on the words ‘Veni, veni, veni: caelesti gloria coronaberis. Amen’. To build the more strongly to this last full section, the solo sections also increase in intensity, the last of them using the most spectacular scoring of voices which was available: two trebles, two means and two basses.
from notes by Peter Phillips © 1980