Hastings, Thomas, notable American composer, tunebook compiler, teacher, choirmaster, and writer on music; b. Washington, Litchfield County, Conn., Oct. 15, 1784; d. N.Y., May 15, 1872. When he was 12, his family moved to Clinton, N.Y., where he led a village choir in his teens. During the winter of 1806-07, he opened a singing school in Bridgewater, N.Y., and later had singing-schools in Utica, Troy, and Albany. He became well known via his editorship of the Utica religious weekly The Western Recorder (1823–32). In 1832 he settled in N.Y., where he was busily engaged as a teacher, choirmaster, tunebook compiler, and writer on music. He was founder-ed. of the monthly Musical Magazine (1835–37). In 1858 he received an honorary D.Mus. degree from N.Y.U. Hastings was an influential figure in the promotion of American sacred music. He composed the celebrated Rock of Ages. He set the hymn to words by Augustus Toplady, paying tribute to the author by naming his tune Toplady. His first tunebook, Musica sacra (Utica, 1815; 2nd ed., 1816), was combined with S. Warriner’s Springfield Collection (Boston, 1813), and subsequently was publ, as Musica sacra: or, Springfield and Utica Collection (10 eds., Utica, 1818-38). Among his subsequent tunebooks were The Manhattan Collection (1836), The Sacred Lyre (1840), Sacred Songs for Family and Social Worship (1842; 2nd ed., rev. and enl., 1855), Songs of Zion (1851), The Presbyterian Psalmodist (1852), and Selah (1856). He also collaborated on tunebooks with other compilers. Hastings’s Dissertation on Musical Taste (Albany, 1822; 2nd ed., 1853) was the earliest detailed musical treatise publ, by a native American musician.
J. Dooley, T H.: American Church Musician (diss., Fla. State Univ., 1963).
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire