New Burke Library Exhibit: The American Hymnody Tradition in 19th Century New York

“The American Hymnody Tradition in 19th Century New York”

Anthony Elia

[Our Public Services librarian, Anthony Elia, has curated this exhibit, now available for perusal on the first floor of Burke Library.  Anthony also writes a fine bibliophile blog, "On Books and Bibios" - see the link on our blogroll to the right.]

Thomas Hastings (1784-1872) and Lowell Mason (1792-1872) were two of the most celebrated and influential hymnodists in American history.  Their endeavors and works have had profound and lasting influence in the American church music repertoire, but also the social and political framework of 19th century America.  Collectively, the two wrote nearly 4,000 hymns.  Hastings is most known for his tune “Rock of Ages” based on the Toplady text, while Mason is perhaps best known for “Joy to the World”–a hymn often attributed to Handel, but in fact is almost certainly the work of Mason.  The present form of “Joy to the World”  dates to 1839, which was also a productive compositional period for Mason.  Mason’s son Henry was the founder of the piano and organ company, Mason & Hamlin.  Hastings and Mason also had intimate connections with New York and the Union Theological Seminary community in the 19th century:  Mason taught sacred music for one year  at Union (in 1853-54) and Hastings was the father of Thomas Samuel Hastings (1827-1922), president of UTS from 1887 to 1897, and grandfather of the Thomas Hastings (1860-1929) who designed the New York Public Library.

“New Carmina Sacra,” by Lowell Mason

Lowell Mason

Thomas Hastings, Sr.