The song “Will the Circle be Unbroken” served a very important role in the Carter Family. As seen in the 2013 movie Ring of Fire, their performance of the famous hymn really made them an iconic band.
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 set by Charles Gabriel. The two of them are prolific writers of church music, that is why the lyrics are meaningful and spiritual.
The Carter Family’s Version
The song was reintroduced to the public in 1935. Back then, it was still called “Can the Circle Be Unbroken,” but, the Carter Family 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 Carter Family’s version, they pointed out that it was the mother who passed away. As seen in the movie, their performance as a family worked well to their advantage because of their blending and harmonization.
The Song’s Legacy
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. It really is a full circle story since the Opry was an essential part of all country artists’ career. Now, their performances are saving the stage that once helped them become who they are now.
The song has the ability to connect people throughout the ages emotionally and spiritually. 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.
Listen to the song here: