April 10

The Carter Family’s Popular Version of “Will the Circle be Unbroken”

Did you know that the song popularized by the Carter Family is more than a hundred years old now? Yes, the song was based on a gospel hymn that was published back in 1908. The lyrics were penned by Ada Habershon and the music was by Charles Gabriel. The two of them are prolific writers of church music.

The hymn was then performed by the Carter Family.

Carter family
via Screengrab from Youtube

The Carter Family Version

The song was reintroduced to the public back in 1935. Back then, it was still called “Can the Circle Be Unbroken.” But, the group did a few changes within the song and the title.

One notable change is seen in the chorus. Instead of singing: “By and by, by and by,” they sing “By and by, Lord, by and by.”

The Carter Family was also not shy in specifying the object of the song. Back when it was a hymn, the message was ambiguous. But with the Carters’ version, they pointed out that it was the mother who passed away.

carter family
The Carter Family/ Screengrab via Youtube

The Song’s Legacy

With the song’s message, it is usually performed at funeral services. It does a good representation of someone passing away and going to a better place. That no matter what happens, the Lord will always be with us after we are gone here on earth.

It holds a good promise to our loved ones, and as long as we pray and have faith, there’s a better home awaiting them.

Incidentally, the song was also a huge instrument in rebuilding the Grand Ole Opry. In the spring of 2010, the building that is home to the Opry got damaged and was closed for repairs. The song was then used and performed by country icons Brad Paisley and the late Little Jimmy Dickens.

The song has the ability to connect people emotionally and spiritually throughout the ages. Not all music can do this. That is why gospel songs are still being made and released by artists because of the message and inspiration it gives to its audience.

To listen to the song, click here:


Carter Family

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