Scripture Verse

And so shall we ever be with the Lord. 1 Thessalonians 4:17


Ellen M. Gates (1835–1920)

Words: Ell­en M. H. Gates, in Gos­pel Hymns No. 2, ed­it­ed by Phi­lip Bliss & Ira D. San­key (Cin­cin­na­ti, Ohio; Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois and New York: John Church and Big­low & Main, 1876), num­ber 79.

Music: Phi­lip P. Bliss (🔊 pdf nwc).

Philip P. Bliss (1838–1876)

Having car­ried in my pock­et for sev­er­al months the words of the hymn Eter­ni­ty, which the au­thor, Ell­en M. H. Gates, had sent me, I hand­ed them, one day in Chi­ca­go [Il­li­nois] in 1876, to my friend P. P. Bliss, ask­ing him to write mu­sic for them. Three days later he had com­posed the tune.

The hymn was much used at our meet­ings both in Great Bri­tain and the Unit­ed States. Be­fore sing­ing it, I used to tell the story of Ro­bert An­nan, of Dun­dee, Scot­land.

He was one of the worst men who ev­er lived in that town, but af­ter hav­ing been con­vert­ed be­came one of the most use­ful mis­sion­ar­ies of the place.

On leav­ing his lit­tle cot­tage home one morn­ing to go to his mis­sion work, he took a piece of chalk from his pocket and wrote on the flags­tone of the walk which led to his house the sing­le word Eter­ni­ty.

A few min­utes lat­er he saw a child fall from one of the ves­sels in the harbor. Be­ing a bold, strong swim­mer, he threw off his coat and shoes, and plunged in­to the bay. He saved the child, but at the cost of his own life. His bo­dy was car­ried home over the word Eter­ni­ty, which he had wri­tten a few hours be­fore.

On my last vis­it to Scot­land, about five years ago, I went to see his wi­dow, and found that the writ­ing had been cut into the stone by di­rec­tion of the Hon­or­able James Gor­don, the Earl of Ab­er­deen.

Thousands go to see it ev­ery year. Mr. An­nan’s min­is­ter took me to the beau­ti­ful ce­me­te­ry at the place, where a fine mo­nu­ment ten feet high, marks the last rest­ing-place of the he­ro.

San­key, pp. 138–39


Oh, the clang­ing bells of time!
Night and day they ne­ver cease;
We are wea­ried with their chime,
For they do not bring us peace;
And we hush our breath to hear,
And we strain our eyes to see
If thy shores are draw­ing near,
Eternity! Eter­ni­ty!

Oh, the clang­ing bells of time!
Now their chang­es rise and fall,
But in und­er tone sub­lime,
Sounding clear­ly through them all,
Is a voice that must be heard,
As our mo­ments on­ward flee,
And it speak­eth, aye, one word,
Eternity! Eter­ni­ty!

Oh, the clang­ing bells of time!
To their voic­es, loud and low,
In a long, un­rest­ing line
We are march­ing to and fro;
And we yearn for sight or sound,
Of the life that is to be,
For thy breath doth wrap us round,
Eternity! Eter­ni­ty!

Oh, the clang­ing bells of time!
Soon their notes will all be dumb,
And in joy and peace sub­lime,
We shall feel the si­lence come;
And our souls their thirst will slake,
And our eyes the King will see,
When thy glo­ri­ous morn shall break,
Eternity! Eter­ni­ty!