Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

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This article is about a Christian hymn. For other uses, see Will the Circle Be Unbroken (disambiguation).
"Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"
Page from 1908 hymnal.
Written 1907
Language English
Composer Charles H. Gabriel
Lyricist Ada R. Habershon
Language English

"Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" is a popular Christian hymn written in 1907 by Ada R. Habershon with music by Charles H. Gabriel. The song is often recorded unattributed and, because of its age, has lapsed into the public domain. Most of the chorus appears in the later songs "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Daddy Sang Bass".


There are loved ones in the glory[1]
Whose dear forms you often miss.
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?
Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
Is a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the sky?
In the joyous days of childhood
Oft they told of wondrous love
Pointed to the dying Saviour;
Now they dwell with Him above.
You remember songs of heaven
Which you sang with childish voice.
Do you love the hymns they taught you,
Or are songs of earth your choice?
You can picture happy gath'rings
Round the fireside long ago,
And you think of tearful partings
When they left you here below.
One by one their seats were emptied.
One by one they went away.
Now the family is parted.
Will it be complete one day?

The song is generally played to be uplifting to the congregation, and is a frequent standard in gospel revivals.

There is also a reworked version of this song, using the same music and the same verse structure but with different verse lyrics and slightly different Chorus, using 'Can' instead of 'will', called "Can the Circle be Unbroken" written by A. P. Carter, intended as a funeral hymn. That version has often been recorded as "Will the Circle be Unbroken", including the 1972 performance by Mother Maybelle Carter and ensemble on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album of the same title.

The original version of the song does not insert "Lord" in lines 2 and 4 of the chorus,[1] though the Carter version does. Also, the third line of the chorus is phrased as a question in the original, but as a declarative sentence in the Carter version.

In popular culture[edit]

In 1967, Bob Dylan and The Band recorded a version, released in 2014 on The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete.

In 1999, "Will the Turtle Be Unbroken," a parody, was written and released by Les Barker under the group name The Mrs Ackroyd Band.

A season three episode of Pretty Little Liars was titled after the hymn and featured the song within the episode. The song in its reworked version of "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" also appeared in the film Iron Jawed Angels. even through this website shows the above song as the title.

In 2012, a Belgian film called The Broken Circle Breakdown used the song on its soundtrack.

Two versions of the hymn are featured in the soundtrack for the 2013 video game BioShock Infinite: a traditional choir version, performed by Maureen Murphy, and an award-winning acoustic version performed by Troy Baker (guitar) and Courtnee Draper, the voice actors of main characters Booker DeWitt and Elizabeth, respectively. The song won "the Best Song in a Game" award during the VGX 2013.[2] In March 2013, the score for BioShock Infinite contained "Will the Circle Be Unbroken (choral version)" with Ada Ruth Habershon, Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (2:56) on Track 3.

In 2014, Scottish singer Susan Boyle recorded a version as one of her tracks for her sixth studio album, Hope.[3]


  1. ^ a b Habershon, Ada R., and Gabriel, Charles H. (1907) [2nd. Pub. 1910]. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken". In Alexander, Charles M. comp. Alexander's Gospel Songs No. 2. Fleming H. Revell Company, New York. p. 33, song 28.
  2. ^ Jones, Elton. "VGX 2013: The Full List of Video Game Award Winners". heavy.com. 
  3. ^ "Susan Announces Sixth Album, 'Hope'!". December 15, 2014. Retrieved March 9, 2015. 


  • Alexander, Charles M. Alexander's Gospel Songs No. 2. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company (1910).

External links[edit]

"Will the Circle Be Unbroken?". Archived from the original on November 5, 2011.