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 famous words and music of this much loved piece, one of the few "genuine Christmas carols", are by the Episcopal priest, John Henry Hopkins (1820-1891).
Hopkins had considerable artistic talent, and designed stained glass windows, church seals, etc.
With the rich colors of the Willis, this carol really works very nicely. The registration given on the score is much "duller" and less pleasing.
The words of the first verse are given in the FIRST COMMENT.
Photos of Robert Edward Smith and John Henry Hopkins are attached below.
Tomorrow - "The Caravan of the Magi (approach and departure)" - John H. Maunder