Scripture Verse

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

Introduction

portrait
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).

portrait
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

Lyrics

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!