A native of Spartanburg County, South Carolina, Durham was the daughter of George Durham and Susan Hyde. She married Andrew Coan Hoy (1819–1890) in 1843; the ceremony was conducted by John Gill Landrum, who like her was a contributor to William Walker's Southern Harmony. She worked as a singing teacher, and in addition produced Baptist articles and tracts; these, though serious, displayed traces of wit as well. Durham moved to Cobb County, Georgia after the American Civil War, dying there and being buried in the Fowler-Hoy family cemetery. She had outlived her husband by nearly eleven years.
It has been posited that Durham was personally acquainted with Walker, who moved to the Spartanburg area around 1830; between 1835 and 1846 she contributed several tunes to his books. Besides "Promised Land", she is known for "Heavenly Treasure" and "Star of Columbia". She is often credited as "Miss M. T. Durham" or "M. Durham". Her talents as a composer and writer were once recorded as having been noted in her epitaph.
"Promised Land" has, since its publication, been adapted to a major key and, with an added refrain, become popular as a congregational hymn.
- "William Walker: Carolina Contributor to American Music | The Sacred Harp Publishing CompanyThe Sacred Harp Publishing Company". Originalsacredharp.com. 2013-12-31. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
- David Warren Steel; Richard H. Hulan (2010). The Makers of the Sacred Harp. University of Illinois Press. pp. 114–. ISBN 978-0-252-07760-9.
- "Matilda T. DURHAM b. 17 Jan 1815, Spartanburg County, South Carolina d. 30 Jul 1901, Cobb County, Georgia". Myfamilytapestry.com. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
- "Matilda Durham Hoy". The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology. Canterbury Press. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
- "Miss M. T. Durham". Hymnary.org. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
- Discipleship Ministries. "History of Hymns: "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand" - umcdiscipleship.org". www.umcdiscipleship.org. Retrieved 13 September 2017.