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 musical 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. My performances follow the composer's registrations "in spirit," but I have used a more "sophisticated" approach in sections.
The tune "Brightest and best" is found in the Hymnal 1982 of the Episcopal Church. The melody is from "The Southern Harmony", 1835, and the text is by Bishop Reginald Heber (1733-1826).
In this setting, string stops are featured. The right hand has pulsing chords, and the melody is played unadorned in the left. I have to say that this piece reminded me of Tom Jones singing "Delilah," but many of you will probably not even realize what I am referring to... ;-)
A picture of Robert Edward Smith is attached below, as well as a drawing of Bishop Reginald Heber.
The text for the first verse is given in the FIRST COMMENT.
Tomorrow - "The Caravan of the Magi (approach and departure)" - John H. Maunder