John Mundy is much the youngest composer represented on the recording, and his In te Domine speravi
demonstrates the remarkable longevity of aspects of the English tradition of Psalm-motet writing just described. He was organist of St George’s Chapel, Windsor, from about 1580 and so he and Baldwin were colleagues; it is therefore not surprising that most of his surviving Latin-texted works are preserved in the Baldwin partbooks. The text of Mundy’s In te Domine
is not—as was conventional within the Psalm-motet genre in England—a complete Psalm or a complete section of the long Psalm 118, but is a compilation of single verses from three different Psalms. However, in musical terms many of the same stylistic characteristics—such as elaborate melodic and rhythmic filigree—and architectural conventions are there as in the Psalm-motets of his father and others of that older generation such as White. For example, the hugely extended and mesmerising gimell section, beginning ‘Vide humilitatem meam’, is scored for the same voice-parts (divided means, contratenors, and basses) as in William Mundy’s Memor esto verbi tui
. Although the striking short-note declamation at ‘non erubescam quoniam speravi’ in the gimell of the younger composer’s piece goes further than such declamatory moments in William’s motet, the rhythmically lively declamation of ‘peregrationis’ in Memor esto
likewise occurs during the gimell. As had his English predecessors writing in this style for many decades, John Mundy exploits tellingly the potential for dramatic alternation of soloists’ and fully scored sections, adding force to the plea ‘Exaudi Domine vocem meam’ (‘O Lord, hear my voice’) in the first part of the piece, as had his father at the equivalent point in Memor esto
, positioning this first appearance of the full forces at a significant shift in the text’s affect (‘The proud acted iniquitously altogether’). By way of contrast, after the dense contrapuntal play of the gimell section in the second part of John Mundy’s work a sudden turn to simple chordal declamation marks touchingly the well known prayer from the service of Compline, ‘In manus tuas Domine commendo spiritum meum’, ‘Into your hands O Lord I commend my spirit’.
from notes by Owen Rees © 2020