My Grandfather's Clock

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This article has been imported from Wikipedia [1] and enhanced with further information.

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Norfolk singer Walter Pardon sang a version of this song called 'Old Man's Advice', recently re-recorded by Pete Coe on the album 'Paper Houses' (Bash CD 53 - 2004)[2]. The sleeve note reads - Agricultural Farm labourer's Unions were formed in the late C19th and popular songs, hymns, tub thumpers and parodies played an important part at meetings and demonstrations. Walter Pardon sang this song which has lasted better than most others. As a boy, Walter had met George Edwards, leader of the National Union of Agricultural Workers

My Grandfather's Clock is a song (allegedly) written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work, the author of Marching Through Georgia. It is a standard of British brass bands and colliery bands, and is also popular in Bluegrass music.

There are two competing theories as to the origin of the song. The most common relates to a wayfarers' inn in Piercebridge on the border of Yorkshire and County Durham called the George Hotel. The hotel was owned and operated by two brothers called Jenkins, and in the lobby was an upright longcase clock. The clock kept perfect time until one of the brothers died, after which it lost time at an increasing rate, despite the best efforts of the hotel staff and local clockmakers to repair it. When the other brother died, the clock stopped, never to go again. It is said that in 1875 Henry Clay Work visited the hotel and based My Grandfather's Clock on the stories he heard there. It is said that the song is responsible for the common name "grandfather clock" for what are properly called "longcase clocks"

A form of the "Grandfather's Clock' song is known to anyone who grew up in the 60's and 70's. A popular clock toy, marketed by Fisher-Price, had a dial on it that, when turned, caused the toy to play the song along with clock-like ticking and moving hands on the face of the clock. An updated version of the toy (which is completely made of plastic and with other activities like a clicking plastic mouse on the side) was manufactured by Fisher-Price as of the early 2000s, but it seems that production of the toy has stopped. However, imitations of the toy made by various companies still exist and is still sold in various countries worldwide.

The song is also well known in Japan and to multiple generations. In 2002 a Ken Hirai recording of this song rose quite high in the popularity charts.

A competing theory holds that the lyrics were written not by Work but instead by C. Russel Christian, who wrote the poem about his grandfather, James P. Christian.

The song was recorded by Boyz II Men in 2004.

This song was the inspiration for The Twilight Zone episode Ninety Years Without Slumbering.

House Hash Harriers and Rugby football fans occasionally sing an obscene version of the song: My Grandfather's Cock.


My grandfather's clock
Was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half
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 treasure and pride;
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped 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.

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 hand never hung by its side.
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

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 his 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 stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

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