ROBBIE SMITH
The Robbie Songs Project

Home 9 Composers 9 ROBBIE SMITH

NAMING THE TWINS – the Robbie Smith and Kathleen Glauser duo – delighted audiences for over ten years. Their energy, casual banter, wide variety of song styles and remarkably well matched voices captivated audiences wherever they performed.
 
Robbie Smith was a songwriter, singer and player of stringed instruments all his life. From an early age, through the windows of his scenic home outside Shelburne Nova Scotia, his imagination took flight gathering scenes and circumstances which flowed back through his pen and onto the page. His lyrics captured the essence of life lived by and on the sea and the attention of Roger Whitaker who recorded four of Smith’s songs.
 
Kath Glauser joined Robbie in 2008. She brought clear natural folky harmonies, organizational skills and engaging stage presence to the table sharing lead vocals while adding guitar and mandolin. She helped with the song writing; lyrics and melodies. “Naming the Twins” recorded several albums.  visit the website here
 
Robbie passed away suddenly in 2019. Kathleen made a promise that the music would not be forgotten. So she contacted Tim Callahan-Cross at the Nova Scotia Choral Federation and a wonderfully invigorating project was born; to prepare Robbie Smith songs for choirs! Fine composers/arrangers across Canada were recruited to write choral arrangements and Cypress Choral Music has published several of the beauties below.
The following choral music was commissioned by the Nova Scotia Choral Federation with support from
the Estate of Robbie Smith, as part of the Robbie Songs Project – a Nova Scotian songwriter’s legacy.

Angels in the Snow

by Robbie Smith, arr. Chris Fortin

SATB with piano – CP 1944 – duration 4:15
SSA with piano – CP 2028
Snow minted branches bowed to us through frosted light
A raven welcomed us and led us through a world of white
A meadow glistened, we wonder-watched what we were shown
And, christening the fields, the only footsteps were our own

We spent a day with only laughter now we know
It’s not only children who make angels in the snow

Dry Land

by Robbie Smith, arr. Larry Nickel

SATB with piano – CP 1996 – duration 4:35
TBB with piano – CP 2004
SSA available upon request
I yearned to feel the ocean’s roll,
I was always the seafaring kind.
But too many storms have taken their toll, 
and all that remains on my mind –
Is dry land, dry land – 
It’s been seven fortnights since we raised the sail.
All hands, dry land – 
We’ve slipped from the grip of a force seven gale to dry land.

Gullwind

by Robbie Smith, arr. Larry Nickel

SATB with piano – CP 1998 – duration 4:05
SSA with piano – CP 1973
TBB available upon request
Find the gullwind in the harbour,
trace the tideline on the water, read the signs.
Catch the fish with lure and line, 
bamboo pole and golden twine.
See the starfish shine.

Klondike Christmas

by Robbie Smith, arr. Mary Knickle

SATB with piano – CP 1945 – duration 3:45
SSA with piano – CP 1964
The moon paved a road cross the lake
And the snow covered ground
While an old man with a dog-team and a sleigh
Made his way to the town

 
I brushed off the snow from my mittens
And walked to his side
I’d been splitting firewood for the party
And dinner that night
 
The music of Chrismas was all that we heard
A tear caught the moonlight from the joy it had stirred
We had met and were friends without saying a word
As we welcomed him in to our home

Last Song, The

by Robbie Smith, arr. Donna Rhodenizer

SATB with keyboard – CP 1956 – duration: 3:25
SSA with keyboard – CP 2037

The concert is over, the footlights are low
And so must the curtain fall
I’ll sing one more song now and then I must go
Adieu to you, one and all

Lay Down Your Weapons

by Robbie Smith, arr. Byron Hermann

SATB with keyboard and optional instrument – CP 2026 – duration: 5:05
TTBB with keyboard and optional instrument – CP 2038

Lay down your weapons, lay down your arms
Turn swords into ploughshares, battlefields to farms

Robbie Smith’s gentle nature often leads to lyrics that question mankind’s long-time propensity for conflict in the name of power and greed. They provide us with “A legacy of love that few can match” (Kathleen Glauser). This arrangement by Byron provides music with a classical feel as the original tune travels back to a folk-style from the Renaissance period. 

Let's Have Some Music

by Robbie Smith; arr. Laura Hawley

SATB with Piano  –  CP 2024   –  duration 3:35
This is such a ‘good times’ song! When Kathleen Glauser (of the Robbie & Kathleen duo group Naming the Twins) approached me about writing arrangements of Robbie’s music, this song jumped out to me at a time when choirs had been unable to gather together for over a year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time (spring 2020), I was anticipating a resurgence of choral gatherings to come in the fall of 2020, and thought this would be a really fun song to focus on arranging, as a sort of personal celebration looking forward to this, and something choirs could enjoy singing when they returned. I think this piece has a wonderful positive message, and would work well in many different concert programs – it’s such a happy song!

Let’s have some music, there’s a lot of sweet music in my soul
Let’s have some music, gonna reach out and touch you that’s my goal

Lincoln Cathedral

by Robbie Smith; arr. Laura Hawley

SATB with Piano  –  CP 2016   –  duration 5:05
For this beautifully poignant song, I brought in a gentle and floating piano accompaniment that reharmonizes some of the melody differently from Robbie’s original harmonies. I have a few different ideas about who the narrator of my arrangement could be, and encourage performers to come up with their own interpretation and meaning. To help with this, I also suggest listening to the original recording by Naming the Twins, Robbie and Kathleen’s duo group, to compare and contrast with my arrangement. You can find their recording on YouTube.

Now the great halls are silent in Lincoln Cathedral
Cloistered in darkness safe from the people
And far in the distance a princess is weeping
Hiding a letter still in her keeping
Bound by tradition she’ll sleep by his side
His choice was made and so she must be his bride
Now she must be his bride keeping the truth deep inside
Now she must be his bride – casting her love aside

Lullaby to an Ancient River

by Robbie Smith, arr. Frances Farrell

SATB with piano – CP 1986 – duration 3:55
SSAA with piano – CP 2017

Hear me ancient river
Close your weary eyes
You have traveled far this day
By the golden marshes
Warmed by the sun along your way

Maybe

by Robbie Smith, arr. Mark Sirett

SATB  with piano – CP 1971   – duration 4:50
SSA  with piano – CP 1978
TBB  with piano – CP 1976
Maybe war will teach us something – teach us how to live in peace
Maybe tears will turn to gladness – and maybe famine will lead to feast
Maybe hatred will turn to kindness once it sees what it’s become
Maybe lies will turn to the truth once the sadness they’ve caused is done

Painter of Wintertime

by Robbie Smith, arr. Frances Farrell

SATB with piano – CP 1958 – duration 4:10
SSA with piano – CP 1972
TBB with piano – CP 1981

Snow drift, fresh powder peaceful
Ice diamond aspen tree, tasting the wind
Snowflake, cotton and crystal
Candy cane Christmas tree, ornament sky

Painter of wintertime of smooth wispy swirl
Painter of wintertime, your canvas the world

Sea Fever

by Robbie Smith, arr. Stephen Smith

TTBB with piano – CP 1992  – duration 2:45
SATB with piano – CP 2025

A fetching piano intro is followed by a solid sea shanty in 6/8 time, with a rousing swing. This arrangement is ideal for choirs at any level of ability.

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

poem by John Masefield

Sing the Winter Away

by Robbie Smith, arr. Gary Ewer

SATB  with piano – CP 1937 – duration 3:35
SSA  with piano – CP 1982
TBB  with piano – CP 2020

Oh, the winter frost is settling in
And I know the snows will soon begin
Into the air the leaves are swirled
The world goes ‘round – ‘round goes the world

 

But we’ve got mem’ries so kind and clear
Gathered in warmer times to bring good cheer
To fill our hearts and souls with mirthful song
To keep us safe and glad all winter long

And we’ll sing the winter away, sing the winter away
Though it may be cold and gray outside it’s warm within
So let’s sing the winter away, sing the winter away
In our hearts we’ll dance and play and soon it’ll be spring

Skippers and Mates

by Robbie Smith, arranged by Mark Sirett

SATB a cappella – CP 2006   – duration 2:45
TTBB a cappella – CP 2007
Come all ye wise or simple men – skippers & mates & deckhands
To man the cargo ships again – skippers & mates & deckhands
We place no stock in rank nor name – skippers & mates & deckhands
To the rollin’ seas you’re all the same – skippers & mates & deckhands

Somedays

by Robbie Smith, arr. Tom Leighton

SATB with piano – CP 1957 – duration 3:45
SSA with piano – CP 2030

Somedays there ain’t no fish – there ain’t no fish to catch
Somedays there ain’t no berries, hidin’ in the berry patch
Somedays, somedays – nothin’ works and nothin’ pays
My life’s been filled with somedays
I hope there’s better days ahead

Some Sweet Day

by Robbie Smith; arr. Michael Zaugg

SATB a cappella – CP 2029 – duration 4:45
There have been many songs about going to heaven, such as the campfire singalong “Way Beyond the Blue”. Robbie’s song is simple yet profound and Michael has created gorgeous harmonies that will transport any listener to higher realms of glory.  This setting is designed for accomplished singers.
Some sweet day I shall wake up in a new land
Lift my eyes to the Heavens and behold
My soul will rise into the skies above the islands
And I shall know the glories of a story still untold

When the Carols Began

by Robbie Smith and Mike Appelboom, arr. Tom Leighton

SATB with piano – CP 1943 – duration 4:05   
TTBB with piano – CP 1946

With a gentle triple-time lilt, this beauty addresses the Nativity theme in a surprising and delightful way.
Take the words make the words fill the hearts of men

Though words are mere shadows of what happened then
When heaven’s great treasure descended to man
That time-honoured night when the carols began

Why Can't We?

By Robbie Smith and Kathleen Glauser, arr. Donna Rhodenizer

SATB with keyboard – CP 1930 – duration: 4:45
SSA with keyboard – CP 1993
TTBB with keyboard – CP 2021
Touch the same grass breathe the same air
Same gust o’wind caresses our hair
We do… we do have a lot in common
Shed the same tears day after day
Walk the good earth in the same kinda way
We do… we do have a lot in common
So why can’t we… why can’t we just get along?
Why can’t we… why can’t we just get along?

Winter Awakening

by Robbie Smith, arr. Erica Phare-Bergh

SATB with piano and instruments  –  CP 1961   – duration 4:05
SSAA with piano and instruments  –  CP 1975
TBB
option available upon request
This is one of Robbie Smith’s most beautiful songs – in a minor key – and Erica has given it a stunning choral arrangement with sweet-spot vocal registers and interesting lines for each singer. The ideal instrumental accompaniment should include violin and recorder. However, this song would work well with almost any combination of C instruments. We also have a solo option for flute, violin, oboe or recorder.

Wind awakens winter in me
And leaves my spirit bleak and barren
Yearning for fond moments to be 
And the spring in all its fragrant finery

Skies are dressed in dull shades of gray
And the farmland fields lie sleeping fallow
A lone bird call takes me away
To future promise far away from today

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Dr. Larry Nickel (Editor):
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