Matilda T. Durham

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A major-key version of "Promised Land", used as a congregational hymn

Matilda T. Durham, later Hoy (January 17, 1815 – July 30, 1901) was an American composer and hymn writer. She is remembered for her shape note tune "Promised Land", first published in 1835.[1]


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.[2] She had outlived her husband by nearly eleven years.[3]

It has been posited that Durham was personally acquainted with Walker, who moved to the Spartanburg area around 1830;[4] between 1835 and 1846 she contributed several tunes to his books.[2] 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".[5] Her talents as a composer and writer were once recorded as having been noted in her epitaph.[3]

"Promised Land" has, since its publication, been adapted to a major key and, with an added refrain, become popular as a congregational hymn.[6]


  1. ^ "William Walker: Carolina Contributor to American Music | The Sacred Harp Publishing CompanyThe Sacred Harp Publishing Company". 2013-12-31. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ a b "Matilda T. DURHAM b. 17 Jan 1815, Spartanburg County, South Carolina d. 30 Jul 1901, Cobb County, Georgia". Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  4. ^ "Matilda Durham Hoy". The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology. Canterbury Press. Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  5. ^ "Miss M. T. Durham". Retrieved 2017-09-13.
  6. ^ Discipleship Ministries. "History of Hymns: "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand" -". Retrieved 13 September 2017.

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