Eternity

Words by Ellen M. H. Gatos Music by P. P. Bliss

"Oh, the clanging bells of Time I
Night and day they never cease.”




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 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 in 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 of the place, where a fine monument, ten feet high, marks the last resting-place of the hero.

A worker in the English Village Mission writes: ”I had been engaged during the previous week with a lot of indifferent people in a midland village without the smallest token of blessing, and on that memorable Sunday night of the Tay Bridge disaster I went to the service with a sad heart. The service was a solemn one, and at the close we sang :

'Oh, the clanging bells of Time!
Night and day they never cease.'

"The song touched the hearts of the people. About this time, as we afterwards learned, a number of conversions occurred, and a blessing has rested on that place for many years. One of the converts has been a very successful missionary in a large northern city. I can scarcely remember any place where some one or .more of your songs and solos was not used of God in blessing souls. In one church alone I received one hundred and fifty into fellowship, and I think not less than one-third of that number, when making application for membership, mentioned some particular hymn that had led them to decision."