Although largely self-taught, Robert A. Smith (b. Reading, Berkshire, England, 1780; d. Edinburgh, Scotland, 1829) was an excellent musician. By the age of ten he played the violin, cello, and flute, and was a church chorister. From 1802 to 1817 he taught music in Paisley and was precentor at the Abbey; from 1823 until his death he was precentor and choirmaster in St. George's Church, Edinburgh. He enlarged the repertoire of tunes for psalm singing in Scotland, raised the precentor skills to a fine art, and greatly improved the singing of the church choirs he directed. Smith published his church music in Sacred Harmony (1820, 1825) and compiled a six-volume collection of Scottish songs, The Scottish Minstrel (1820-1824).
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