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Mundy [Monday(e), Mondie, Mondy(e), Moonday, Munday(e), Mundey, Mundi(e), Mundy(e)], William (b. c.1529; d. c.1591).

Singer, composer and Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, born c.1529, probably in London, the son of Thomas Mundy (b. c.1505). He had two sons by his wife Mary Alcock, John (b. c.1555) who was also a composer and Stephen (c.1556-1640) who was a gentleman of the Royal Household during the reigns of James I and Charles I. 


The first record of William Mundy’s life is in 1543 when his name appears at the top of the list of choristers at Westminster Abbey. The position of his name at the head of the list suggests that he was head boy in that year. Since he does not appear on the list in subsequent years his voice must presumably have broken around 1554. 

Mundy's name next appears in the records of Chantry certificates of 1547. Here he is listed as a conduct (or deputy) and the document records a payment to Mundy of 66s 8d. under the section for “St Mertens in the vintry”. The entry was later corrected to “w’in Ludgate” and subsequent payments of the annuity, found in the Tellers Rolls of the Exchequer of Receipt, confirm that Mundy was indeed appointed to St Martin’s Ludgate Hill. 

Between 1548-58 William Mundy held the post of Parish Clerk at St Mary at Hill, the church where his father, Thomas, had been sexton since 1527. This appointment was significant for Mundy’s career development since the musicians at St Mary at Hill traditionally had strong connections with their counterparts at the Chapel Royal, and musicians from the Chapel would be employed to augment the parish choir on special occasions. The church wardens’ accounts indicate that this relationship was built upon by Mundy during his ten years of service. 

By 1559 Mundy had taken up an appointment as a bass singer at St Pauls where he is recorded as having sworn loyalty that year to Elizabeth’s Act of Supremacy and Uniformity. 

The final step in Mundy’s career was made on 21st February 1564 when he joined the Chapel Royal. An entry in the Chapel Royal’s Old Cheque Book for 1563/4 states Mr Walker was slaine the 27th of November, and Wm Munday was sworne in his place the 21st of february, from Poules.

Twenty seven years later an entry for 1591 records Anthony Anderson sworne 12th October in Mr Mundaies roome. There is no record of the cause of his death, nor a surviving will, but at the age of 63 Mundy had already exceeded the average life expectancy for the period and so anno domini would seem to be the most likely explanation.

A 17th century pedigree of the Mundy family (Lbm Harley MS 5800), prepared by Mundy’s grandson Stephen, (son of Stephen), claims that William Mundy held the post of sub-dean at the Chapel Royal. The Old Cheque Book however is quite explicit in its records of the appointments to the position of sub-dean during this time showing a continuous succession: Sub-dean Angell (appointed 1559), Norrice (1567), Gravesend (1568),  Rich. Tirwitt (1569), Robert Greene (1584), and Anthony Anderson (1592). The sub-dean is the clergyman in charge of the Chapel Royal and there is no record of Mundy ever having taken holy orders. Stephen Mundy's confusion may have arisen from either mis-remembering what his father had told him or perhaps from a misreading of the Cheque Book. The Cheque Book records the appointments of sub-deans as well as musicians, and Anthony Anderson who took over “Mr Mundaies roome in 1591” was sworne in as sub-dean in 1592.


No likeness of William Mundy survives

Contemporary references

Mundy was clearly much esteemed by his contemporaries. In 1588 John Case in his Apologia Musices bemoans the lack of recognition given to contemporary English composers and includes Mundy in a list of distinguished composers including Taverner, Blytheman, Tallis, Byrd, Bull. Morley, Dowland and Johnson. 

In A plaine and easie introduction to practicall musicke (1597), Thomas Morley includes him in a list of seven eminent Tudor composers which included "Fayrfax, Taverner, Sheppard, Whyte, Parsons and Mr Byrd".

In a Latin pun the anthologist Robert Dow compared Mundy with William Byrd stating that Mundy was as the moon to Byrd’s sun: Dies lunae. Ut lucem solis sequitur lux proxima lunae. Sic tu post Birdum Munde secunde venis. (Christ Church MS 984-8).

Mundy was named as one of the principal composers of his time by Thomas Whythorne in his notes on composers (see The Autobiography of Thomas Whythorne, ed. J. M. Osborne).

John Baldwin in one of his manuscripts (MS RM 24.d.2) says "... I will begin with White, Shepper, Tye, and Tallis, Parsons, Gyles, Mundie th'oulde one of the queenes pallis, Mundie yonge, th'oulde mans sonne...."

The Music of William Mundy

Mundy was the youngest of a group of composers whose compositional careers spanned the Reformation. Like his elder colleagues, Thomas Tallis and John Sheppard, he wrote both Latin-texted music—for liturgical and devotional purposes—and English music for the new Prayer book. Although not always as colourful as Sheppard’s, Mundy’s compositions display the careful craftsmanship to be found in the music of his great inspiration, Thomas Tallis. Mundy engages less closely with the challenges of text setting as Tallis or Byrd; nevertheless, the outstanding quality of much of his output ensures his place in the top echelon of Tudor composers. 

The earliest surviving works were written for the Sarum Use and are contained in The Gyffard Partbooks. This collection include two mass settings Upon the square, two Alleluias Per te Dei Genitrix , a Kyrie Cunctipotens Genitor and an alternatim Magnificat on the second tone. A seventh piece in the collection In exitu Israel is described as a collaborate venture between Mundy, Birde and Sheppard.  Since Sheppard died in 1559/60 the Birde referred to cannot be the famous William Byrd, but more likely Thomas Birde from the Chapel Royal. 

The inclusion in the Gyffard partbooks of a piece by John Mundy, coupled with the original assumption that the collection dated from the Marian period has previously given rise to the belief that there must have been a second composer called John Mundy, a generation older than William’s son. Now that the Gyffard partbooks have been shown to be a retrospective collection made in the 1570s, this assumption can be revised. The difficulties in editing and realising some of the music in this unusual collection has led some writers to dismiss Mundy’s contributions as being the least effective of his output. Recent editorial and performance work however has produced a more favourable impression. 

Two large scale votive antiphons Vox Patris caelestis and Maria virgo sanctissima were probably composed in the 1550s, but stylistically hark back to before the Reformation. Both are scored for the standard 1550s "festal" combination of six voices—treble, mean, double tenor, baritone and bass—and are similar in this respect to Tallis's Gaude Gloriosa and much of Sheppard's festal music. Vox Patris is particularly fine and may have been written for celebrations surrounding Mary’s wedding to Philip of Spain in July 1554. The choice of text, taken from the book of Soloman, suggests that it might have been conceived as a "fertility song" playing to the preoccupation of the Catholic revivalists; the need for Mary to bear a son and heir to secure the future against Protestantism.

Amongst Mundy’s finest music is the devotional music; eight psalm settings and three motets. Of the psalm settings—Adhaesit pavimento, Adolescentulus sum ego, Domine, non est exultatum, Domine quis habitabit, Eructavit cor meum, Beati immaculati, Memor esto, and Noli aemulari—the first two are outstanding, with Adolescentulus sum ego also surviving as a contrafactum Bow down thine ear. A further psalm setting, Miserere mei survives in an incomplete but restorable state. A tenth psalm setting In aeternum is clearly instrumental, surviving only in a table book, and having unsuitable ranges for voices. It was never the less published by Frank Harrison in Early English Church Music Volume 1 in a texted realisation. 

In a similar vein are three motets Beatus et sanctus, Exurge Christe (which is the same music as the instrumental Tres partes in una) and Sive vigilem.

It is difficult accurately to assign all the surviving ten English service settings since six are ascribed “Mundy” rather than “William Mundy”. William's son John, was also a composer, though his surviving output is generally less distinguished than his father's, and he could equally well have been the composer of some of these more run of the mill settings. 

The four settings ascribed to William Mundy are the first service in D dol re, the short service, the Evening service to Mr Parsons and the Evening Service In medio chori. The evening service to Mr Parsons apparently completes one of Parson’s sets of morning canticles which he may have left unfinished owing to his untimely death in 1570. The service In Medio Chori is a setting of the evening canticles on a grand scale for a split five voice choir and a group of soloists.

The remaining six settings—C fa ut, F fa ut, Four parts for men, Three parts for men, Whole service for two basses and Te deum and Benedictus for trebles—are all attributed to “Mundy” in their source. A further three settings—the first and fourth evening services and the Te Deum for mens voices—are incomplete and similarly ascribed only to "Mundy".

Similar attribution problems occur with the anthems for mens voices. Of the six surviving—Let us now laud, Prepare you, time weareth away, A new commandment, Behold, it is Christ, He that hath my commandments, Praise the Lord, O ye servant, and Rejoice in the Lord Always—only the first two are attributed in their sources to "William Mundy".

Of the four anthems for full choir—O Lord the maker of all things, O Lord, I bow the knees, O Lord, the world’s saviour and Blessed is God in all his gifts the first two are among the finest of their type. The first three are ascribed to "William Mundy" the last merely to "Mundy".  

Five anthems survive incomplete—My song shall be of mercy, God be merciful unto us, In God alone is all my trust, Lay not up your treasures and Teach me O Lord. The first is ascribed to "William Mundy" the others to "Mundy".

Two verse anthems, Ah, helpless wretch, and The secret sins are early examples of the genre invented by Farrant and made famous by Gibbons in the next century. The secret sins has previously been ascribed to Orlando Gibbons.

A limited amount of secular music and consort music survives. The consort song Fie, fie my fate is attributed to “Mundy”. Of the ten instrumental (or simply textless) works, In nomine [I], O Admirabile, Dulcior melle, “Fantasia” (no title) Parts I and II, In Nomine [II], Let the sea make a noise, O mater mundi, Sermone blando, Tres partes in una (Exurge Christe) and A Solfinge song only the first two are ascribed to "William Mundy".

Two pieces comprise Mundy’s Opera dubia. This is my commandment is by Tallis (but also attributed to Johnson) and Teach me thy way is more likely to be by Hooper.

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