Long before the Elks came to be, the custom of recognizing the hour of eleven as a time of foreboding and retrospect existed.
The Royal and Antedeluvian Order of Buffaloes, an English fraternal group started in 1010 AD, practiced a custom of the 11 O'clock toast. They did it in remembrance of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The victor, William of Normandy, had set a curfew of 11:00pm. At this time, all lights had to be doused or shuttered and all fires banked. This served to discourage the secret meetings of rebels, the sparks from a fire easily seen against the night sky by the watchtowers. A person out after this hour was also in peril from evil doers or patrolling militia. The hour of eleven quickly took on a somber tone. In the centuries that followed, it became a synonym for someone on their deathbed or about to go into battle.
Thus, when Charles Algernon Sydney Vivian, founder of the American branch of the Jolly Corks and English by birth, started a group here, the tradition continued.
On February 16, 1868, when the 15 Jolly Corks (seven of whom were not native born Americans) voted to start a more formal and official organization, the sentiment of the mystic hour of 11 was well known. It was not strange that they continued the ritual of the Buffaloes and toasted their absent members at that hour
There were a great many Eleven O'Clock toasts through the years. Given our theatrical heritage in the Jolly Corks, early members were probably quite adept at composing a beautiful, off the cuff toast. There was no fixed and official version till the 1906-1910 era. Regardless of the form, the custom predates our group and is a beautiful and fitting tribute to our absent members.THE ORIGINAL JOLLY CORKS TOAST
Now is the hour when Elkdom's tower is darkened by the shroud of night,
And father time on his silver chime Tolls off each moments flight.
In Cloistered halls each Elk recalls His Brothers where'er they be,
And traces their faces to well known places in the annals of memory.
Whether they stand on a foreign land or lie in an earthen bed,
Whether they be on the boundless sea with the breakers of death ahead.
Whate'er their plight on this eerie night, whate'er their fate may be,
Where ever they are, be it near or far
They are thinking of you and me.
So drink from the fountain of fellowship, to the Brother who clasped your hand,
And wrote your worth in the rock of the earth
And your faults upon the sand.
To Our Absent Brothers.****THE 11 O'CLOCK TOAST
You have heard the tolling of 11 strokes. This is to remind you that with Elks, the hour of 11 has a tender significance.
Wherever an Elk may roam, whatever his lot in life may be, when this hour falls upon the dial of night, the great heart of Elkdom sweels and throbs.
It is the Golden Hour of recollection, the homecoming of those who wander, the mystic roll call of those who will come no more.
Living or dead, an Elk is never forgotten, never foresaken.
Morning and noon may pass Him by, the light of day sink heedlessly in the West, but ere the shadows of midnight shall fall, the chimes of memory will be peeling forth the friendly message,
"To Our Absent Members"****A TOAST TO OUR ABSENT BROTHERS
Elkdom's house is darkened, the Eleventh Hour is here.
The chimes are calling softly to our Brothers far and near.
Wherever his footsteps take him, to near and distant shore
The Heart of Elkdom beats for him and for those who come no more.
If you see a Brother falter, reach out a helping hand...
His virtues live in memory, his faults drift with the sand...
"To Our Absent Brothers"****The Eleventh Hour
Mrs. H.A. Morton, Santa Monica, 10/31/13
Dedicated to Santa Monica Lodge No. 906
Eleven has struck on the Eastern coast,
The Elks have given their standing toast,
"To our absent Brothers," where'er they be.
Whether on land or on the sea.
"To our absent Brothers," from East to West.
Good wishes we send our very best.
The Lodge in the mountains and on the plain.
At eleven takes up this glad refrain:
"To our absent Brothers," the toast peals forth
From the sunny South, to the frozen North.
Though many in foreign lands may roam.
They know at that hour they are thought of at home
The toast even reaches the other shore.
Where they live who meet with us no more.
Like an echo, it comes back loud and clear
"To our absent Brothers," 'till we meet here
So with loving thought, and helping hand,
The work goes on o'er all our land.
And only the Ruler Supreme can know
The good Elks do wherever they go.
Eleven strikes on the Western coast.
The Elks are giving their standing toast.
"To our absent Brothers," from West to East. Including the greatest unto the least,
For at this Elks' hour we all agree,
"To our absent Brothers," B. P. O. E.
From The Pacific Coast Elk **** The Toast
Elkdom's house is darkened,
the Eleventh Hour is here.
The chimes are calling softly
to our Brothers far and near.
Wherever his footsteps take him,
to near or distant shore,
the Heart of Elkdom beats for him
and for those who come no more.
If you see a Brother falter,
reach out a helping hand ...
His virtues live in memory,
his faults drift with the sand ...
To our Absent Brothers****The 11 O'Clock Toast
Created and Delivered by Dr. C.H. Harvey of Erie, PA, Lodge No. 67 at a Lodge banquet help 9/8/1896.
Here! stop that song, look at the clock,
Although it's to our liking;
The joke must wait, ease up the talk,
Eleven o'clock is striking;
Fill glasses for that old-time toast,
We hold above all others,
The one we love to honor most,
"Here's to our absent brothers."
Good fellows all, where are you now?
Who came with cheery greeting,
In other days, and wondered how,
Men thought that life was fleeting;
There's Charlie, brightest of them all,
His face shines in the claret,
He wore a smile to conquer all,
As none but he could wear it.
Dear boy! his shadow in the glass,
Shines bright and fair and cheery;
I almost hear the old jest pass,
"Let's drink and all be merry,"
And Jack who died a year ago,
When life was in its summer;
I see him in the shadows now,
A new and loving comer.
Dear boys! I know not where you are,
Nor do I care to ponder,
Upon your home in that far land,
Across the fairy yonder;
But yet I know where'er you are,
You'd hurry out of heaven,
To drink this toast with those you love,
When the clock points to eleven.
So we who gather 'round the board,
Remember all the others;
Drink deep the toast, without a word,
"Here's to the absent brothers." ****A Toast to Our Absent Brothers
My Brothers and Friends:
The hour of eleven has tolled again;
We pause, in our human endeavor
To renew our faith in the friendship of those
Whose virtues stay with us forever.
With hearts full of hope and voices of cheer
For an Elk is never forsaken,
We think kindly thoughts and speak tender words
Of those whose place we have taken.
The hours speed by and the days turn to months.
We cherish this brief retrospection;
The pages of time tell of memories dear
In the book of fond recollection.
Whatever the task, be it large or small
To lighten the burden of others;
Together we'll work and together we'll give
A toast "To our absent brothers."
TO OUR ABSENT BROTHERS ****Eleventh Hour Toast
You have listened to the tolling of the eleventh chime,
A reminder our pleasures should cease for a time
In order that those who have finished their score,
May all be brought to mind once more
Wherever our brothers may wander or roam,
On land or sea or their celestial home.
Whatever their lot and life may be,
It is meet with us the surviving to see.
That the hour of eleven on the dial of night,
Shall never pass beyond our sight,
Without our hearts to throb and swell
In wishing our absent brothers well.
Our golden hour of mutual recollection,
A time devoted to silent reflection
Of the home bound brothers on a distant shore,
And the roll call of those, who will come no more.
Regardless of the paths their lives may have taken,
They are never forgotten, never forsaken.
Morning and noon may pass them by,
The light of day fade from the sky,
But ere the shadow of midnight shall fall,
The chimes of memory shall summon us all.
To speed them a message above all others,
God grant you peace,
TO OUR ABSENT BROTHERS ****A Toast to our Absent Brothers
by Tracy E. Kareha, 1977
Tis' the hour of eleven,
throughout Elkdom does it chime.
As we remember our absent brothers,
And their virtues at this time.
One by one they've left us,
To carry on each day.
Even though they've gone now,
They'll help show us the way.
While they were here with us,
They served their country well.
They will never be forgotten,
As it makes our heart throb and swell.
At the mystic hour of eleven,
We remember the brothers we once knew.
And on their journey through etetnity,
Always thinking of them as we do.
So when we hear the tolling,
We very quietly stand.
And remember our absent brothers,
Whom we've walked with hand in hand.
TO OUR ABSENT BROTHERS