The text only of The secret sins
occurs in a source attributable to Mundy. The music was long thought to be by Gibbons, but the family resemblance to Ah, helpless wretch
is inescapable, not least when the sobriety of the music gives way to a more elaborate ‘Amen’, a feature of Mundy’s talent one may find especially endearing. Often somewhat out of scale with the structure of the preceding music, these ‘amens’ testify to a natural musician rejoicing in the opportunity for free composition, a long-drawn-out lavish cadence appropriate to the finely detailed, confident yet introverted, even melancholy character of his habitual style. His technique, growing in assurance from the 1550s to the 1580s, makes full use of the most characterful devices of the time, especially the emotive, discordant ‘false relation’, but gives a clear impression of an individual voice—direct and graceful.
Sad we cannot now flesh out in greater detail the personality behind this fine music. It would be good to know more about a musician considered in his time second only to the great Byrd, as we discover from Robert Dow’s conceit:
Ut lucem solis sequitur lux proximae lunae
Sic tu post Birdum Munde secunde venis.
As the light of the moon follows close on the sun
So you after Byrd, Mundy, next do come.
from notes by Nicolas Robertson © 1989