Will the circle be unbroken by and by, by and by.
There’s a better home a waiting in the sky, in the sky.
I stood between my grandmother and granddaddy during the hymn singing and, although they each held a hymnal with the words and music, we all knew the songs by heart. I had to know them from memory since I was so young I couldn’t read yet, but my grandparents could have definitely read the words. They had sung the songs so many times during their lives, though, they didn’t need them. My granddaddy sang the melody, and my grandmother sang harmony or what I later learned was the alto part I tried to imitate for the rest of my life.
…we sang the songs of childhood, hymns of faith that made us strong…
My daddy was the song leader in the Richards Baptist Church in the 1950s. The Richards Baptist Church was a small congregation of 50 – 60 members that met on Sunday mornings for Sunday School and worship services, Sunday nights for Training Union and another worship service, and on Wednesday nights for prayer meetings plus a business meeting one Wednesday night a month. My mother played either the black upright piano to the left of the small raised platform where the preacher and my daddy sat and stood up when they had something to say or she played the little pretend church organ to the right of the raised platform. I could barely see Mama even when I stood to sing from my seat with my grandmother and grandfather on one of the hard wooden pews toward the middle of the tiny sanctuary; I could always see and hear my daddy.
My maternal grandmother had a particular place she sat every Sunday morning during the worship service – a place down closer to the front of the church, but she always sat alone. My mother’s two brothers sat in different places every Sunday, but my Uncle Marion sat on the back row since he was late coming in from standing outside smoking that final cigarette. My Uncle Toby also sat by himself closer to the front but on the opposite side of the church from his mother.
One by one their seats were emptied, one by one they went away.
Now the family is parted, will it be complete one day?
My family members in that little Baptist Church are, indeed, gone. But the circle of life and family is definitely not broken for me. Hallelujah! There’s good news for the whole family when the circle is complete.
Drew with his daughter Ella as his mother NanaPretty smiles at them both
NanaSlow holds Ella as NanaPretty keeps smiling
When Ada R. Habershon penned the lyrics in 1907 to the song Will the Circle be Unbroken, she had no way of knowing what an iconic gospel and country music song this would become. From remote churches like mine in the piney woods of East Texas to the center stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee this song spoke to individuals and the masses. Her original lyrics changed through the years as different performers rewrote them, but the question remained the same.
Will the circle be unbroken by and by? Regardless of time or place, the answer is yes.