Robert Archibald Smith

1780 - 1829

Minor composer and collector of songs. Born in Reading (England) the son of an East Kilbride weaver who had moved south to find work, Smith initially followed in his father's foot-steps. He returned north in 1800, settling in Paisley where he became friendly with the poets William Motherwell (1797 - 1835) and Robert Tannahill (1774 - 1810) putting their works to music. Smith became a music teacher and was appointed Precentor at Paisley Abbey in 1807. In 1823, he moved to Edinburgh to take up the post of Musical Director at St. George's Church (Charlotte Square). His sacred music, which included the psalm tune Invocation, was published in Glasgow and Edinburgh. His collections of popular songs include The Scottish Minstrel (1824), which incorporated a popular setting of the Burn's song My Love is Like A Red Red Rose. Smith's own songs include Bonnie Mary Hay, O Wha's at the Window?, The Lass o' Arranteenie, The Harper of Mull, Loudon's Bonnie Woods and Braes and Highlander's Farewell.

Smith died in Edinburgh.

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