Video & Performance Copyright (c) 2017 by Charles E. Szabo, BMI
“Grandfather’s Clock” is a song 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.
The song, told from a grandson’s point of view, is about his grandfather’s grandfather clock.
The clock is purchased on the morning of his grandfather’s birth and works perfectly for ninety years, requiring only that it be wound at the end of each week.
Yet the clock seems to eerily know the good and bad events in the grandfather’s life – it rings 24 chimes when the grandfather brings his bride into his house, and near his death it rings an eerie alarm, which the family recognizes to mean that the grandfather is near death and gathers by his bed. After 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”.