1784 - 1872 Person Name: Thomas Hastings, 1784-1872 Composer of "TOPLADY" in Christian Worship Hastings, Thomas, MUS. DOC., son of Dr. Seth Hastings, was born at Washington, Lichfield County, Connecticut, October 15, 1784. In 1786, his father moved to Clinton, Oneida Co., N. Y. There, amid rough frontier life, his opportunities for education were small; but at an early age he developed a taste for music, and began teaching it in 1806. Seeking a wider field, he went, in 1817, to Troy, then to Albany, and in 1823 to Utica, where he conducted a religious journal, in which he advocated his special views on church music. In 1832 he was called to New York to assume the charge of several Church Choirs, and there his last forty years were spent in great and increasing usefulness and repute. He died at New York, May 15, 1872. His aim was the greater glory of God through better musical worship; and to this end he was always training choirs, compiling works, and composing music. His hymn-work was a corollary to the proposition of his music-work; he wrote hymns for certain tunes; the one activity seemed to imply and necessitate the other. Although not a great poet, he yet attained considerable success. If we take the aggregate of American hymnals published duriug the last fifty years or for any portion of that time, more hymns by him are found in common use than by any other native writer. Not one of his hymns is of the highest merit, but many of them have become popular and useful. In addition to editing many books of tunes, Hastings also published the following hymnbooks:—
(1) Spiritual Songs for Social Worship: Adapted to the Use of Families and Private Circles in Seasons of Revival, to Missionary Meetings, &c, Utica, 1831-2, in which he was assisted by Lowell Mason; (2) The Mother's Hymn-book, 1834; (3) The Christian Psalmist; or, Watts's Psalms and Hymns, with copious Selections from other Sources, &c, N. Y., 1836, in connection with "William Patton; (4) Church Melodies, N. Y., 1858, assisted by his son, the Rev. T. S. Hastings; (5) Devotional Hymns and Poems, N. Y., 1850. The last contained many, but not all, of his original hymns. (6) Mother's Hymn-book, enlarged 1850.
The authorship of several of Hastings's hymns has been somewhat difficult to determine. All the hymns given in the Spiritual Songs were without signatures. In the Christian Psalmist some of his contributions were signed "Anon." others "M. S.," whilst others bore the names of the tune books in which they had previously appeared; and in the Church Melodies some were signed with his name, and others were left blank. His MSS [manuscript] and Devotional Hymns, &c, enable us to fix the authorship of over 50 which are still in common use. These, following the chronological order of his leading work, are:—
i. From the Spiritual Songs, 1831:—
1. Before Thy footstool kneeling. In Sickness. No. 358, in 3 stanzas of 8 lines.
2. Bleeding hearts defiled by sin. Fulness of Christ. No. 261, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines.
3. Child of sin and sorrow, Filled with dismay. Lent. No. 315, in 2 stanzas of 8 lines. It is sometimes given as "Child of sin and sorrow, Where wilt thou flee?" It is in extensive use.
4. Delay not, delay not, 0 sinner draw near. Exhortation to Repentance. No. 145, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. Given in several important collections.
5. Forgive us, Lord, to Thee we cry. Forgiveness desired. No. 165, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines.
6. Gently, Lord, 0 gently lead us. Pilgrimage of Life. No. 29, in 2 stanzas of 8 lines. It is given in several collections. The first two lines are taken from a hymn which appeared in the Christian Lyre, 1830.
7. Go forth on wings of fervent prayer. For a blessing on the distribution of Books and Tracts. No. 250, in 4 stanzas of 5 lines. It is sometimes given as “Go forth on wings of faith and prayer," as in the Baptist Praise Book, N. Y., 1871, No. 1252; but the alterations are so great as almost to constitute it a new hymn.
8. Hail to the brightness of Zion's glad morning. Missionary Success. No. 239, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. In several hymnbooks in Great Britain and America.
9. How calm and beautiful the morn. Easter. No. 291, in 5 stanzas of 6 lines. Very popular.
10. In this calm, impressive hour. Early Morning. No. 235, pt. i. in 3 stanzas of 6 lines. In several collections.
11. Jesus, save my dying soul. Lent. No. 398, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. A deeply penitential hymn.
12. Now be the gospel banner. Missions. No. 178, in 2 stanzas of 8 lines. In several collections (see below).
13. Now from labour, and from care. Evening. No. 235. Pt. ii. in 3 stanzas of 6 lines. This hymn, with No. 10 above, "In this calm," &c, constitute one hymn of 6 st. in the Spiritual Songs, but divided into two parts, one for Morning and the other for Evening. Both parts are popular as separate hymns.
14. 0 God of Abraham, hear. Prayer on behalf of Children. No. 288, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. In use in Great Britain.
15. 0 tell me, Thou Life and delight of my soul. Following the Good Shepherd. No. 151, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, on Cant. i. 7, 8.
16. Return, O wanderer, to thy home. The Prodigal recalled. No. 183, in 3 stanzas of 4 lines, with the refrain, " Return, return " (see below).
17. Soft and holy is the place. Public Worship. No. 351, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. In Dr. Hatfield's Church Hymn Book, N. Y., 1872, and some other collections, the opening line is altered to "Sweet and holy is the place."
18. That warning voice, 0 sinner, hear. Exhortation to Repentance. No. 231, in 4 stanzas of 6 lines.
19. To-day the Saviour calls. Lent. No. 176, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. Dr. Hastings says, in a communication to Dr. Stevenson (Hymns for Church and Home, 1873), this hymn “was offered me in a hasty sketch which I retouched." The sketch was by the Rev. S. F. Smith.
20. Why that look of sadness. Consolation. No. 268, in 3 stanzas of 8 lines.
21. Zion, dreary and in anguish. The Church Comforted. No. 160, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines.
Concerning the two hymns, No. 12, "Now be the gospel banner"; and No. 16, "Beturn, O wanderer, to thy home," Dr. Stevenson has the following note in his Hymns for Church and Home, London, 1873:—
"In a letter to the Editor, Dr. Hastings wrote, not more than a fortnight before his death, 'These two hymns of mine were earlier compositions, the former ["Now be," &c.] for a Utica Sunday School celebration, the latter ["Return, 0 wanderer," &c.] after hearing a stirring revival sermon on the Prodigal Son, by the Rev. Mr. Kint, at a large union meeting in the Presbyterian Church, where two hundred converts were present. The preacher at the close eloquently exclaimed with tender emphasis, "Sinner, come home! come home! come home!" It was easy afterwards to write, "Return, 0 wanderer."'"
Several additional hymns in the Spiritual Songs, 1831, have been ascribed to Dr. Hastings, but without confirmation. The sum of what can be said on his behalf is that the hymns are in his style, and that they have not been claimed by others. They are:—
22. Drooping souls, no longer mourn. Pardon promised. No. 40, in 3 stanzas of 8 1., of which st. i., ii. are altered from J. J. Harrod's Public, Parlour, and Cottage Hymns, Baltimore, 1823, that is, 8 years before the Spiritual Songs were published.
23. Dying souls, fast bound in sin. Pardon offered. No. 41, in 5 stanzas of 8 lines. It is usually given in an abridged form.
ii. From his Mother's Hymn Book, 1834:—-
24. Forbid them not, the Saviour cried. Holy Baptism. No. 44.
25. God of mercy, hear our prayer. On behalf of Cliildrcn, No. 48, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. It was included in J. Campbell's Comprehensive Hymn Book, Lond., 1837, and subsequently in several collections.
26. God of the nations, bow Thine ear. Missions. No. 115, in 4 stanzas of 6 lines. In several collections.
27. How tender is Thy hand. Affliction. No. 99, in 5 stanzas of 41.
28. Jesus, while our hearts are bleeding. Death. Resignation. No. 95, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. This is in extensive use and is one of his best and most popular hymns.
29. Lord, I would come to Thee. Self-dedication of a Child. No. 72, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines.
30. 0 Lord, behold us at Thy feet. Lent. No. 59, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. It is doubtful if this is by Hastings. It is sometimes signed "Mrs. T."
31. The rosy light is dawning. Morning. No. 11, in 3 stanzas of 8 lines.
32. The Saviour bids us [thee] watch and pray. Watch and Pray. No. 119, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines.
33. Thou God of sovereign grace. On behalf of Children. No. 66, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines.
34. Wherever two or three may meet. Divine Service. No. 56.
35. Within these quiet walls, 0 Lord. Mothers' Meetings. No. 58, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines. In Spurgeon's Our Own Hymn Book, 1866, No. 1010, it begins, "Within these peaceful walls." This reading is from J. Campbell's Comprehensive Hymn Book, London, 1837. It is very doubtful if this is by Hastings.
iii. From the Christian Psalmist, 1836:—
36. Children, hear the melting story. On the life of Christ. No. 430, in 3 stanzas of 6 lines. It is given as from the Union Minstrel, and the statement that it is by Hastings is very doubtful, no evidence to that effect being in the possession of his family. Dr. Hatfield, in his Church Hymn Book, dates it 1830, and gives it as "Anon."
37. Go, tune thy voice to sacred song. Praise No. 190, in 5 stanzas of 5 lines, and given as from "ms."
38. He that goeth forth with weeping. Missions No. 212, in 2 stanzas of 8 lines, and given as from "ms." It is in several collections.
39. I love the Lord, Whose gracious ear. Ps. cxvi. Page 186, in 4 stanzas of 6 lines, as from "ms."
40. Lord of the harvest, bend Thine ear. For the Increase of the Ministry. No. 407, in 6 stanzas of 4 lines, as from "ms." This hymn Dr. Hastings altered for his Devotional Hymns & Poems, 1850, but it has failed to replace the original in the hymnbooks.
iv. From the Reformed Dutch Additional Hymns, 1846:—
41. Child of sorrow, child of care [woe]. Trust. No. 168, in 2 stanzas of 8 lines, appeared in W. Hunter's Minstrel of Zion, 1845.
42. Heirs of an immortal crown. Christian Warfare. No. 136, in 2 stanzas of 8 lines.
43. O Saviour, lend a listening ear. Lent. No. 175. Stanzas vi., i., iv., v., altered.
44. The Lord Jehovah lives. Ps. xviii. No. 26, in 4 stanzas of 6 lines.
These three hymns, together with many others, are given in the Dutch Reformed Hymns of the Church, N. Y., 1869. In the 1847 Psalms & Hymns there were, including these, 38 hymns by Hastings, and 2 which are doubtful.
v. From Dr. Hastings's Devotional Hymns and Religious Poems, 1850:—
45. In time of fear, when trouble's near. Encouragement in Trial. Page 95, in 3 stanzas of 4 lines. In use in Great Britain.
vi. From Church Melodies, 1858:—-
46. For those in bonds as bound with them. Missions. No. 416, in 5 stanzas of 4 lines, on Heb. xiii. 3.
47. Forget thyself, Christ bids thee come. Holy Communion. No. 683, in 3 stanzas of 6 lines.
48. Jesus, Merciful and Mild. Leaning on Christ. No. 585, in 4 stanzas of 8 1. In several collections.
49. Pilgrims in this vale of sorrow. Self-denial. No. 397, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines.
50. Saviour, I look to Thee. Lent. In time of Trouble. No. 129, in 4 stanzas of 7 lines.
51. Saviour of our ruined race. Holy Communion. No. 379, in 3 stanzas of 6 lines.
52. Why that soul's commotion? Lent. No. 211, in 3 stanzas of 8 lines. It is doubtful if this is by Hastings.
vii. In Robinson's Songs of the Church, 1862:
53. Be tranquil, 0 my soul. Patience in Affliction. No. 519, in 4 stanzas of 4 lines. Altered in Robinson's Songs for the Sanctuary, 1865.
54. Peace, peace, I leave with you. Peace, the benediction of Christ. No. 386, in 3 stanzas of 7 lines.
55. Saviour, Thy gentle voice. Christ All in All. No. 492, in 3 stanzas of 7 lines.
viii. In Bobinson's Songs for the Sanctuary, 1865:—
56. God of the morning ray. Morning. No. 53, in 2 stanzas of 7 lines.
Of Hastings's hymns about 40 are in the Reformed Dutch Psalms & Hymns, 1847; 39 in Robinson's Songs for the Sanctuary, 1865; 15 in Hatfield's Church Hymn Book, 1872; and 13 in the Lyra Sacra Americana, 1868. They are also largely represented in other collections. Many other of his compositions are found in collections now or recently in common use, but these are not of the highest merit. [Rev. F. M. Bird, M.A.]
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology (1907)
Hastings, T., p. 494, i. Additional hymns are:—
1. Children hear the wondrous story; and "Sinners, hear the melting story," are altered forms of No. 36, on p. 495, i.
2. Father, we for our children plead. On behalf of Children.
3. Forgive my folly, O Lord most holy. Lent.
4. Hosanna to the King, That for, &c. Praise to Jesus.
5. I look to Thee, O Lord, alone. Pardon desired.
6. Jesus, full of every grace. Pardon desired.
7. O why should gloomy thoughts arise? The Mourner Encouraged.
8. Peace to thee, O favoured one. Peace in Jesus.
9. Saviour, hear us through Thy merit. Forgiveness. Of these hymns, No. 3 is in Hasting’s Spiritual Songs, 1831; No. 9 in his Mother's Hymn Book, 1834, and his Devotional Hymns, 1850; and Nos. 4, 5 & 8 in his Devotional Hymns, 1850.
--John Julian, Dictionary of Hymnology, Appendix, Part II (1907)