William Mundy (±1529-1591): The secret sins

Mundy wrote The secret sins fairly late on in life it’s an early example of a piece in which a single voice with an independent accompaniment is echoed by a choir singing as one. The model for this novelty was most likely the choirboy plays performed by boys from St Paul’s, the Chapel Royal, and Windsor put on by impresarios such as Farrant. Mundy and Farrant together pioneered this form which became a staple of Anglican sacred music. At one time Secret Sins was thought to be by Gibbons but I’ve never really understood how people arrived at that conclusion. For a start it’s remarkably similar to another piece by Mundy – Ah, helpless wretch, up to and including Mundy’s trademark long complex and highly detailed Amen, and these stylistic factors coupled with the fact that the text only occurs in a source known to be by Mundy combine – at least for me, to make its attribution beyond doubt. It’s a very graceful piece of music very much of its time but which gives clear pointers to how English sacred music would develop and with a very individual voice. Enjoy :-)


William Mundy (±1529-1591): The secret sins

The secret sins that hidden lie
Within my pensive heart
Procure great heaps of bitter thoughts,
And fill my soul with smart.
And yet the more my soul doth seek
Some sweet relief to find,
The more doth sin with vain delights,
Alas, still keep me blind.

Thou see’st, O God, the strifes there are
Between my soul and sin;
Thy grace doth work, but sin prevails
And blinds my soul therein.
Wherefore, sweet Christ, thy grace increase,
My faith augment withal,
And for thy tender mercy’s sake,
Lord, hear me when I call. Amen.

The Sixteen conducted by Harry Christophers.

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