Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 4, 1979
Man Of The Year
By Michael Motes
His love of music goes back as far as anyone can remember. Probably it stems from his mother, who, fresh from the Julliard School of Music in New York, arrived in Atlanta a number of years ago and has been an important part of the musical life of the city ever since.
As a student at Christ the King School, he was always the one serving as Master of Ceremonies at major High Masses when it was still an altar boy duty.
In early post Vatican II days, when there was little in the way of practical music for a Catholic congregation to rely on, he combed the Protestant hymnals and wrote his own arrangements of the old religious standards.
If he found nothing that he liked for a special occasion, such as the funeral of the late Archbishop Hallinan, he would simply write his own original compositions and they always filled the bill. Many of his works are still in use and found in The Worship Hymnal, published by the Gregorian Institute of America.
If any parish in the archdiocese is in doubt as to what type of organ would best fit its particular need or seeks a suggestion on Liturgical musical programming, he is the first person to whom one would turn.
Yet, this paragon of musical expertise is not by profession a musician. He is a banker.
surely, all have guessed by now that he is H. Hamilton Smith, Choir Director par excellence of the Cathedral of Christ the King and named 1978 Man of the Year by the BULLETIN.
Ham grew up in Cathedral parish, son of the late Howard C. Smith and Mrs. Helen Reiley Smith. Following graduation from Marist, he attended Emory University as a history major. In the US Navy, he served as an Air Intelligence Officer and was assigned to the USS Forrestal.
Following his discharge, he attended graduate business school at the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Masters Degree in Business Administration. After a few years with insurance firms, his last position as an efficiency expert, he joined the Trust Company Bank, where he now serves as senior vice president of new business development in the trust department.
Monsignor John McDonough has known Ham for more than 30 years. Long before he was a monsignor, Father McDonough was impressed with altar boy Hams musical interest and talent.
Ham is dedicated and thoroughly convinced that Church music is a most worthy instrument whereby we give praise and glory to God, Monsignor McDonough says. He has been unselfish in his service to the Cathedral and to the entire archdiocese. in recalling their 30-year relationship, the Cathedral
administrator said that Ham is and always has been a very dynamic person.
It was Monsignor McDonough who appointed Ham as Choir Director when he became Cathedral Administrator in 1964.
He has such a great rapport with members of the choir and is able to get them as enthusiastic as he is, Monsignor says.
Under Hams direction, the Cathedral Choir has produced a very fine recording entitled The Cathedral Sings: Music In Catholic Worship, which contains some of the directors original works.
Ham was responsible for the Cathedral installing the magnificent Fratelli Raffatti organ, built to specification in Padua, Italy, several years ago.
He and Cathedral organist Keith Langworthy traveled extensively to listen to great Cathedral organs before deciding that Ruffatti was best for the Cathedral. Today, Ham is involved with several parishes seeking the proper organ for the local need.
when a parish is in the infant stages of developing a Liturgical music program, it is Ham who is on hand to give advice. Among the many priests who vouch for his reliability are Fathers William Sell, SM, of OLA and Paul Reynolds of Saint John Neumann, one of the archdioceses younger parishes, which owes a lot to Ham for helping begin a musical program.
The Archdiocesan Liturgical Commission has often tipped its hat to Ham for long hours of volunteer work at planning sessions. And even the TV Mass has benefited from suggestions ranging from musical arrangements to the selection of an organ.
And these are just a few examples of the Man of the Years helping hand. Hams wife, the former Mason Moss, whom he met on a blind date when she was a student at Vassar, says of her husbands musical avocation, I dont know of anybody who has given so much with as much willingness as he has. He is not a person looking for personal accolades. Its really inspiring to me to watch him work. Masons own musical involvement is as a member of the choir her husband directs. She once served as his musical librarian, but gave up the job with glee.
She is obviously extremely proud of her husband, and adds with a smile, Sometimes I do feel as if we should pitch cots at the Cathedral and live there for a week - especially at Christmas and during Holy Week.
When not involved with Liturgical music, which is very seldom, Mason confides that Ham is a jazz buff and especially fond of Atlantas Dick Drew Trio.
She also adds that the only musical instrument they currently have is a piano. But Im sure that one day we will get an organ and then well either have to get a new house or new neighbors.
Dedicated husband and father, well-respected banker, authority on all forms of music, but most important, untiring Church worker, Ham Smith is our Man of the Year.