Henry Smart

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Henry Thomas Smart (26 October 1813 – 6 July 1879) was an English organist and composer.

Smart was born in London, a nephew of the conductor Sir George Smart and son of a music publisher, orchestra director and accomplished violinist (also called Henry Smart). He studied first for the law, but soon gave this up for music.

In 1831 Smart became organist of Blackburn parish church, where he wrote his first important work, an anthem; then of St Giles-without-Cripplegate; St Luke's, Old Street; and finally of St Pancras New Church, in 1864, which last post he held at the time of his death, less than a month after receiving a government pension of £100 per annum. Smart was also skilled as a mechanic, and designed several organs.[1]

Though highly rated as a composer by his English contemporaries, Smart is now largely forgotten, save for his hymn tune Regent Square, which retains considerable popularity, and which is commonly performed with the words "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation", "Light's Abode, Celestial Salem", or "Angels from the Realms of Glory". His many compositions for the organ (some of which have been occasionally revived in recent years) were described as "effective and melodious, if not strikingly original" by the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, which also praised his part songs. A cantata by him, The Bride of Dunkerron was written for the Birmingham Festival of 1864; another cantata was a version of the play King René's Daughter (1871). The oratorio Jacob was created for Glasgow in 1873; and his opera Bertha was produced with some success at the Haymarket in 1855.

Harry Emerson Fosdick greatly admired Regent Square, and wrote his own "God of Grace and God of Glory" specifically in the hope that it would be generally sung to that tune. He was horrified when in 1935 the Methodist Hymnal set the lyrics instead to Ralph Vaughan Williams' Cwm Rhondda.[2]

In the last 15 years of his life Smart was practically blind. He composed by dictation, primarily to his daughter Ellen, who was married to Joseph Joachim´s brother Henry Joachim.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ George P Upton, The Standard Cantatas, Echo, 2010 (reprint of 1888 edition), p.190-3.
  2. ^ McCann, Forrest Mason (1997). Hymns & history: An annotated survey of sources. Abilene, Texas: ACU Press. pp. 258–259. 

Literature[edit]

  • William Spark, Henry Smart (London, 1881)

External links[edit]


Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.