The Elks 11 O'clock Toast
Regular meetings of the subordinate Lodges were traditionally held at night. In the earlier days of the Elks, they were usually held on Sunday nights and the meetings often concluded about eleven o'clock. As attendees departed, the brothers made inquiries about absent brothers and expressed concerned interest in the causes of their absence.
It became a custom for a member to propose a toast to the brothers who were not able to attend. This custom came to be observed whenever a group of Elks were together at eleven o'clock. The Grand Lodge formalized this practice and it became a primary ceremonial observed during Lodge meetings. They designated it as "The Eleven O'clock Toast."
Whenever a Lodge was in session at that hour, the regular order of business was suspended while the Exalted Ruler recited the beautiful ritual, and concluded it with the words: "To our absent Brothers." When women were formally admitted to the Elks, the phrase was changed to "Our Absent Members"
The "Eleventh Hour" is historically significant describing a time of night when responsibility for peace and tranquility passed to "official" watchmen, and also in describing a time when important decisions of consequence must be made in haste (at the last minute) to avert tragedy.
Eleven 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 Elks may roam, whatever their lot in life may be, when this hour tolls upon the dial of night, the great heart of Elkdom swells 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 forsaken.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 pealing forth the friendly message,"To our absent members.