William Mundy (±1529-1591): Adolescentulus sum ego

This six-part through-composed votive antiphon sets Psalm 118:141-142 in the Vulgate1 . It’s a bit scaled down but still very substantial in terms of its structure and its musical texture which consists of very tightly woven imitative polyphony gets ever richer as the motet progresses. It’s more proof, if proof were needed, that Mundy was a brilliant composer whose music deserves to be better known.2
The text was popular with composers and it may be that Mundy composed this antiphon as part of a collaborative effort with Tye, White, and Parsons and that it was part of a sequence of antiphons meant to be performed as a group. Such collaborative efforts were far from unknown Mundy had already collaborated on a setting of In exitu Israel (Psalm 114). Enjoy :-)

mfi

William Mundy (±1529-1591):  Adolescentulus sum ego

Adolescentulus sum ego et contemptus;
iustificationes tuas non sum oblitus.
Iustitia tua in aeternum;
et lex tua veritas.
Tribulatio et angustia invenerunt me;
mandata tua meditatio mea est.
Dignitas testimonia tua
in aeternum.
Intellectum da mihi, et vivam.

Psalm 118 (119): 141-144

I am but young and held in derision;
I am not forgetful of your judgement.
Your justice is eternal,
and your law is truth.
Distress and tribulation have come upon me;
your commands fill my mind.
The righteousness of your testimonies
is everlasting.
Grant me understanding and I shall live.

Performers: Magnificat directed by Philip Cave

Notes:

  1. Psalm 119 in the modern psalter – mfi
  2. Mundy’s contemporaries respected him greatly as this poem by Dow makes clear:
    Dies lunae
    Ut lucem solis sequitur lux
    proxima lunae
    Sic tu post Birdum Munde
    secunde venis
    Monday
    As the moon’s light follows next
    after the sun’s light
    So you, Mundy,
    come second after Byrd

    . It’s well worth your while exploring Mundy’s other compositions on this site: William Mundy | Saturday Chorale – mfi.

2 thoughts on “William Mundy (±1529-1591): Adolescentulus sum ego

  1. Hi, I’ve got the impression that the expression “Non sum oblitus” is one of the favourite of Tudor composers. These words are highlighted here, but even more in Adhaesit pavimento of Mundy, and also in White’s compositions (appropinquet deprecatio mea most notably). I like thinking this is a secret hint of their not forgetting of the true catholic and apostolic faith – am I just dreaming or is there really nothing there?

    • There quite likely is something there. If you look at the biographies of these composers particularly when and where they started their careers it’s easy to see how many would have Catholic sympathies. Or at the very least nostalgia for a time when there was greater call for their talents. The most blatant example was Byrd who made no secret of his recusancy, I think it’s pretty clear that Tallis’ sympathies were entirely Catholic, but others such as Mundy whose career spanned the Tudor reformation may very well have been Catholics but were for obvious reasons a bit more reticent about making it clear where their sympathies were.

      I’m inclined to think that Mundy was a Catholic. If you listen to William Mundy (±1529-1591): Vox Patris caelestis | Saturday Chorale it’s a very Catholic piece of music as is his setting of Videte Miraculum which I’ll be posting later on this month. Another indication of where his loyalties lay is his Marian motet Exsurge Christe which is a plea for heretics and schismatics to get what is coming to them. Finally there’s the fact that his son John Mundy wrote some very blatantly Catholic music including a setting of the Lamentations.

      So I don’t think you’re dreaming – I think you’re justified in suspecting that Mundy at the very least was a Catholic sympathiser and could well have been a recusant like Byrd.

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