Robert Edward Smith (b. 1946) has written music for vocal and instrumental ensembles of all sizes ranging from unaccompanied viola to symphony orchestra. He has been Composer in Residence at Trinity College Chapel in Hartford, Connecticut since 1979, and taught harpsichord and continuo realization at the Hartt School, University of Hartford from 1992 to the present. In 2002-2003 he served as Composer in Residence, St. John’s Memorial Chapel at Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
His music has an appeal to it. While some might call his work "simple," "The American Organist" magazine said: "“Robert Edward Smith has a sense of melody in about any style you can name. This irresistible music can begin to fill the need in liturgical churches everywhere. It is always musical, even at its most utilitarian moments.”
These pieces, taken from his collection, "Hymn Preludes for the Christmas Season", which was published by World Libaray Publications in 1998, are certainly no exception. While I have not played through all of the 20 pieces included, each of the ones that I have selected is colorful and memorable. My performances follow the composer's registrations "in spirit," but I have used a more "sophisticated" approach in sections.
"Brightest and best" is an interesting piece which sounds almost like a pop song, with it's repeared 8th note chords. The melody is an old southern hymn, and has become sort of the "norm" for this hymn in the American Episcopal church.
QUIZ - which tune, and/or composer used to be the ABSOLUTE NORM for this hymn in the Episcopal Church?