Monday, October 26, 2009

Henry Smart

Henry Thomas Smart, born today in 1813, was educated in music by his father, who was a violinist and a music publisher. The younger Smart was intrigued by the pipe organ from a early age, often visiting the nearby Flight & Robson organ factory (founder George Robson had been organ builder to King George IV). After his father's death in 1823, his mother's relatives discouraged his musical interests and pushed him toward a legal career, but after four years in that practice he returned to music, becoming an organist and eventually an organ designer as well as a respected composer.

His first acclaimed anthem was written when he was organist at the parish church in
Blackburn; an extended piece in commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the Reformation. A local Methodist group asked him for a tune they could sing at one of their missionary meetings to Bishop Reginald Heber's text From Greenland's icy mountains, which resulted in one of Smart's most popular tunes, LANCASHIRE.

We have already seen a number of Smart's
other hymn tunes over the last year (click the tag below). This one is no longer very well known, but I like it, especially with this text by Frederick Lucian Hosmer. Note how the third line proceeds directly into the fourth, which helps give the tune a sense of urgency in the hands of a good accompanist.

Your presence come, O Lord,
Wide circling as the sun;
Fulfill of old your Word
And make the nations one.

One in the bond of peace,
The service glad and free
Of truth and righteousness,
Of love and equity.

Speed, speed the longed for time
Foretold by raptured seers—
The prophecy sublime,
The hope of all the years.

Till rise at last, to span
Its firm foundations broad,
Fulfillment of your plan,
The city of our God.

Frederick L. Hosmer, 1905; alt.
Henry T. Smart, 1881

One Year Ago: Henry Smart

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