Inside an Amish Home: Musical Clock

What do you find on the walls of Amish homes?  As we discussed in a previous post on Amish wall decor, these items tend toward the practical–things like decorative calendars or zip code charts.

Even the ostensibly “non-practical” pieces are practical in their own, higher-purpose way–a framed inspirational saying or Biblical verse, for example, daily reminders of where to set one’s heart and head.

One item with an indisputably useful function is the wall clock.  Popular in Amish homes are the musical animated timekeepers, with their elaborate mechanics revealed on the ringing of the hour.

Amish Musical Clock
A typical musical clock found in Amish homes

I can’t recall what this one in Mark Curtis’ home chimes, nor did I witness what exactly the mechanism does when the long hand points due north, but if you’ve seen how these work, you can imagine.

Mark’s clock has something to tell you besides the time.

Amish Clock Inscription Psalm 90
An inscription to remember. Number the days…

Extra credit if you know where this comes from without checking.

Have you ever seen one of these clocks in action?  What else have you noticed on the walls of Amish homes you’ve been in?

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    1. Karen Pollard


      I love these clocks, but they are VERY expensive. They come in different styles and do different movements. Just gorgeous!!!

    2. Samantha Bobbitt

      My grandparents had bible verses in German on their wall in the Kitchen. I remember looking at it and wondering what it said. I don’t think I ever asked. It was decorated and beautiful but not too much. It is probably still there, I need to check as my aunt still lives in the homeplace by herself.

    3. Lattice

      It’s from a Psalm, but I can’t remember which. We have one of those bent-hickory rockers (in the background) at home. It “sits” so nicely.

      1. You are right, it is a psalm. I don’t know how they make those rockers so comfortable to sit in.

      2. Linda

        Erik, I thought you were asking where the clock comes from!

        Lattice, today I learned that verse comes from a Psalm and not Proverbs. I had to look it up. No extra credit for me.

        Stanley Brubaker wrote a song from this verse, titled “Teach Me, O Lord, To Number My Days.”

        1. Ah, you’re right, that maybe wasn’t so clear.

          I had to look it up too.

    4. Valerie


      On this particular clock, the numbers turn around clockwise and I think the whole face opens completely up to show more musicians inside. Other things you’ll find on the walls of an Amish home is the pretty lace wall hanging that hang on a fancy wire hanger. Some of them also put finished puzzles on the wall.

      1. Valerie I was just at an Amish friend’s in Ohio and I think the puzzle they had on the wall–of a photo of Nebraska Amish at a barn-raising–might have been a Bill Coleman production. I didn’t get a chance to ask.

    5. Cherie

      I don’t know what the Amish hang on their walls, but I love that clock pictured above. I can see where I’m going to be visiting some clock shops the next time I’m in Holmes County. I never knew there were lyrics to go along with those Westminster Chimes on the quarter hour until a Mennonite clock maker in Sugarcreek informed me. I still have the paper he wrote them on:

      Lord, by this hour
      Be Thou our guide
      For by Thy power
      No foot shall slide.


        Cherie, be sure to check out Time and Optics shop on C. R. 77, north of Bunker Hill (where Heinie’s Cheese factory is).

        1. Cherie

          Thanks for the recommendation, Mary. I will surely check that out.

      2. Cate B.

        Westminster Chimes

        Cherie, I never knew there were lyrics to the chiming of the Westminster Bells! When I sing the lyrics in my head, to the tune of the chimes, it matches so exactly. I can’t believe that never crossed my mind, but I suppose I always assumed the specific tones were simply traditional (which they are, but with lyrics). Thank you for posting that comment. I’d guess no one I know knows that, either. Thank you for sharing!

        1. Cherie

          I was happy to share it, Cate.

    6. Fran Handrick

      I’ve seen this clock in a number of Amish homes, but this post reminded me that last September I spent 90 minutes in the home of an Old Order Amish couple and had already noticed that they had a number of interesting clocks in the room, I think there were 7 of them. What I didn’t register was that they were not all set to the same time, so the first one started to chime at about 12 minutes before the hour, and then for the next 15 – 20 minutes, one clock after another chimed or played it’s song or did its thing. I must have looked puzzled, because the old lady explained, ‘We like to hear them all, and if they all go at the same time, it’s confusing’!

      1. Amish clock question answered?

        When I sold books to Amish families I sat in the kitchens of many many Amish homes. As my job depended on not taking up too much of anyone’s (or my own) time, I was often watching the clock. Sure enough I noticed that many of them were off, by say 15 minutes. I never considered that this might be the reason but you may have given me a clue to a years-old question Fran 🙂

    7. Morinne

      Musical Clocks

      The last time I was in Lancaster County, I purchased one of these musical clocks. I enjoyed listening to the sound of music at each hour while visiting an Amish store. I must admit that this clock is still in its box but your comments have given me incentive to start enjoying it!

    8. Colleen

      My dad has one of these clocks that he bought in Lancaster. It is lovely to look at and beautiful to listen to. They are truly a work of art. I would love to have one one day. They sell them at the Country Homegoods Store in Gordonville. At the time I was there, they were somewhere in the area of $200.

    9. Patti


      This clock is so very pretty. I love clocks have 4 here in this small room where my puter is. Granted they are not all big and none even come close to this beauty we are talking about. I was in Lancaster in Oct and Holmes County March of ’11 could not afford any of the beauties that I saw then. Love reading about the Amish and Mennonites. There are Minnonites here in my area. The ones I have
      come across are very nice. I have been to their church yard sales gotten some nice things too. Take care all, Patti in VA

    10. Carolyn B

      I’ve learned something new today. I never realized that musical clocks would be allowed in Amish homes. Do the Amish communities that only practice acapella singing for church also allow musical clocks?

      1. Don Curtis

        Acapella singing

        Mark’s community only has the acapella singing. Church service and singing is in German. He has a clock and most of the homes in his community do, too.

        1. Carolyn B
    11. Cate B.

      Clocks & Walls

      What a beautiful clock! I’ve never seen anything quite like it before. It’s very pretty, and the topic of clocks in general takes my mind straight back to my childhood, when I’d spend quite a bit of time staring at and waiting for my grandparents’ Grandfather Clock to chime. It sat in their little foyer, by their front door and their closet for coats and jackets. So often, I’d go and sit on the cool tile floor, watching the pendulum swinging. If someone couldn’t find me, they eventually learned where to look!

      When I was a little girl, I wanted a cuckoo clock. I must have seen one someplace, because for years, I thought it’d just be the best thing ever for a little bird to pop out of the clock and sing every hour!! I asked for one for probably five years in a row. My parents never indulged that particular request, though. With little ones in the house who could easily wake on a dime, as an adult, I think I finally understand now why a cuckoo clock was just not going to be added to our house. Haha!

      My great-grandmother Mary (and her family) lived and had friends among the (Ohio) Old Order Amish, and if I remember correctly, she spoke their particular, slightly slow, lilting dialect of Penn. Dutch. She spoke with an “Amish accent” to her English, as well. She didn’t learn to drive an automobile until her 30’s or 40’s. But that wasn’t so unusual back then, I’ve heard. (The stories of her learning to drive a car are quite fun!)

      On wall-hangings and decor, my Mom has a beautiful, 10″x12″ or so, cross-stitch wall-hanging great-grandma gave our family, with the alphabet at the top, and a pretty kitchen-y design below. It still hangs on my parents’ wall. I remember that my great-grandmother Mary had a “Grandmother Clock,” at least, that’s what we always called it (I have no idea if that’s an accurate name). It was walnut wood, I think, shining wood stained to a pretty dark finish. It sat on her mantle, and though it chimed quietly, it was just beautiful.

      I do not believe she grew up Amish (there is some confusion because part of my family had been Amish, but someone left at some point). Her father may easily have been born Amish, but left at some point. My great-grandma Mary did grow up on a farm, and she attended a one-room schoolhouse as a girl, later becoming a teacher at a small school. I really wish I’d gotten to know her better, but she died when I was only 12, and to youth (at least me), every family member will, of course, live forever.

      And to end this long note, someone mentioned puzzles as wall decor. I’d not thought of it in years, but my Aunt, cousin and I put together a 1,000 piece puzzle when I was about 8, and I was so excited, and so didn’t want to take it apart. When I came home from school one day, there was the puzzle, pieces still fit together, but glued tightly to a large piece of purple construction paper, and “matted” with white construction paper! It was a wall decoration in my room for years. I can’t even remember what it depicted! Perhaps kittens or puppies, or horses. Even then I loved horses (a common thing for a lot of girls, isn’t that?).

      And I just love your website, Mr. Wesner! I have learned so much, and it’s wonderful to see how much your readers are so willing to help and be kind to each other whenever they can!

    12. Don Curtis

      Mark's clock

      I askedd Mark about his clock. He said that it is battery operated. When the hour strikes a little angel comes out from behind each number, number and angel then do a complete circle and then come back and the angel goes behind the number, again. The clock plays up to 18 tunes. 6 classical, 6 hymns, and 6 Christmas songs. Also, these colored LED lights flash in time to the music. Pretty fancy for an Amish home I must say. Actually, I got Mark the clock for hs birthday a year or so ago.

      1. Don Curtis

        Mark's clock

        Actually, let me correct that. I paid for the clock for Mark’s birthday present. He picked it out.

    13. Judy C. in VA


      Don Curtis, does this type of clock have a specific name, trying to find one similar on the internet. I assume it was purchased in Ohio, can you tell us the name of the shop and where it is located? Thanks.

      1. The words on the clock face are “Rhythm” and “Small World”. I believe the first is the name of the company and second the series. I think they are pretty widely available and order-able online.

    14. Alice Mary

      I'm surprised!

      I’ve seen these types of clocks advertised (Amish magazine & web-based “store” that sells Amish goods) but I didn’t know that some were musical! The one Mark Curtis has sounds especially “fancy”! Music AND a light show? (Sounds like something my granddaughter would be mesmerized by!)

      Mark’s community seems pretty liberal, as Amish go.

      Don, do you know if some “gifts” (like this clock) are “banned” in more restrictive communities? Would a person in that type of community be expected to “give it back”? Does Mark have any comments about giving gifts amongst Amish neighbors or neighboring districts?

      Thanks for your willingness to keep us informed!

      Alice Mary

      1. Something nice on the wall

        I don’t think they’re as rare as we might think, I have seen them in a good handful of Amish homes and at sales. I think it’s a case of Amish not spending money on a lot of frivolous things, but on the relatively limited decor they do have they sometimes like to get something nice.

        Mark could probably explain this better but I think it’s tricky to describe New Order communities like Mark’s as more liberal because there are certain things we might consider more liberal in Mark’s community but other things that most people would say are more conservative (dating practices, approach to tobacco and alcohol).

    15. Judy C. in VA

      Found the clock on the internet with a video, it’s a Rhythm Small World Musical Wall Clock. Here is a link for anyone interested. Beside the detail area click on video, it sounds wonderful. There is another similar clock which plays different music. At another website you can also get the engraved plate.

    16. Alice Mary


      Thanks, Judy C., for the link! Everyone ought to use it to see just what Don meant about the numbers turning, and angels moving—I couldn’t understand it until I SAW it. (The PRICE was an eye-opener to me, too, but it IS pretty amazing, as clocks go!)

      Just wondering—does it have a “mute” button? 🙂

      Alice Mary

    17. Wow, that’s a fancy smancy clock – must be a higher (more progressive) order. My husband & I visited the home of our son-in-law’s parents. They are Swartzentruber Order and his father is the bishop. We weren’t even sure they’d welcome us as they disapproved of their son’s marriage to our daughter.
      The father invited us into their home, told us where to sit; me by the mother and my husband by the bishop. The home was clean & plain; no pictures on the wall, no rugs, or rocking chairs. The curtains were a single panel of blue fabric pinned up with a string (not a curtain rod).
      The chair I was told to sit in was a straight-legged chair same as my husband sat in. The furniture in the living room consisted of a desk made by the father and another handsome piece of furniture where the mother stored her handmade crafts that she sells to English.
      The kitchen had a hand pump well, large eating table that was clean with no papers, deco, or anything, and the dishes were beautiful ones given to them when they were first married. They did not use any paper plates, cups, etc.
      The wood burning stove was in the kitchen. All the bedrooms were up a flight of steps hidden behind a closed door. It was quite the experience that we hope to repeat. I’ll prob write more details in a post on my blog.

      1. OldKat

        Interesting comment

        Brenda your comments are interesting to me on two accounts;

        1)your description of the Swartzentruber bishop’s kitchen is just about exactly the way I would describe the kitchen of the only Amish house I have ever spent any real time in, other than to just step in and say hello, etc. It was in an Old Order home near New Wilmington, PA some 30 years ago next month.

        2)Several months ago, maybe a year or more ago Erik asked what the favorite books were (about the Amish) among his readers. I perused the non-fiction titles that emerged and have read a good 8 to 10 of them since that time. Somewhere along the way I read that probably less than 100 people have successfully “joined” the Amish in their entire history in the US. Yet on this one website alone there are at least 3 or 4 people whose have an offspring that was not raised Amish, but has joined the Amish Church. I am starting to wonder if this is not more common than I had previously been led to believe. Either that or I didn’t read that line correctly. Can any of you: Erik, Don/Mark or any of the other more knowledgeable (Amish wise) readers address this issue?

        1. Morinne

          Hi Erik, Would you please direct me to the list of favorite books(about the Amish) among your readers referred to in OldKat’s comment. Thank you!

    18. Tom Geist

      Clock Tunes...

      I was amazed that the Amish furniture store (Country Heritage Furniture) in Jamesport, Mo had clocks that played secular music along with some standard church tunes. It threw me off when I heard the clock playing some non-religious Elvis song.

      While I would like to get a nice clock, I realize that the only part that is made by the Amish is the wooden outside. The guts of these are made where-ever.

    19. Bavna

      Where can I purchase this from ?

    20. Kathryn

      Parents have one

      It’s made out of silver instead of wood, and the songs last quite a long time, long enough to sing along. The songs are beautiful old Austrian/German waltzes and classical German music.

    21. Juanita Cook

      We have one of these beautiful. My son & his wife gave it to us for Christmas several years ago. We love it. Players some beautiful songs and also Christmas music. Ours was purchased in Salina, Kansas at the Ace Hardware store.