My Grandfather’s Clock: Burl Ives

The song, told from a grandson’s point of view, is about his grandfather’s longcase clock. It is purchased on the morning of his grandfather’s birth and works perfectly for ninety years. When the grandfather brings his bride into his house, the clock rings 24 chimes. Before the grandfather dies, the clock rings an alarm and the family gathers by the old man’s bed. When the grandfather dies the clock suddenly stops, and never works again. The Oxford English Dictionary says that the song is responsible for the fact that a longcase clock is also called a “grandfather clock”.[1]

My grandfather’s clock was too tall for the shelf,
So it stood for ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by far than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
And was always his joy and pride;
But it stopp’d short — never to go again — When the old man died.

CHORUS:
Ninety years without slumbering
(tick, tock, tick, tock),
His life’s seconds numbering,
(tick, tock, tick, tock),
It stopp’d short — never to go again —
When the old man died.

In watching its pendulum swing to and fro,
Many hours had he spent while a boy;
And in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know
And to share both his grief and his joy.
For it struck twenty-four when he entered at the door,
With a blooming and beautiful bride;
But it stopped short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
CHORUS

My grandfather said that of those he could hire,
Not a servant so faithful he found;
For it wasted no time, and had but one desire —
At the close of each week to be wound.
And it kept in its place — not a frown upon its face,
And its hands never hung by its side.
But it stopp’d short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
CHORUS

It rang an alarm in the dead of the night —
An alarm that for years had been dumb;
And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight —
That his hour of departure had come.
Still the clock kept the time, with a soft and muffled chime,
As we silently stood by his side;
But it stopp’d short — never to go again —
When the old man died.
CHORUS

200px-GrandFathersClockWorkCover

Advertisements

About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
This entry was posted in Songs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s