We are using cookies to make this web site better.  By clicking the 'agree' button, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Will The Circle Be Unbroken - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

You can vary the chords for 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' (also knwon as 'Can the Circle Be Unbroken') a little if you want to by addding an E minor chord at the end of the third line of each verse and chorus.  The Carter family don't do this in the YouTube recording that you can hear on this page, and I haven't included it in the chord chart below, but it can add a little poignancy to the song.  In the lyrics I've used the phrase 'Will the circle be unbroken' as this is more frequently sung, but you will notice that the Carter family sing, 'Can the circle be unbroken'.  Take your pick!

'Will the Circle Be Unbroken' started off life as a hymn.  It was written by Ada Haberson and Charles Gabriel.  You can find the lyrics of the original hymn here. Lyrically, the chorus of the hymn is very similar to the Carter family version, which became the model for many later covers.  The words to the verses of the hymn are different to those of the Carter family version. They share the theme of family bereavement, but the Carter family version is more personal and immediate, whereas the hymn is more of an exhortation to live a good life (which I guess is often the point of hymns).  In the context of the hymn, the words, 'Will the circle be unbroken?' effectively mean, 'will you go to heaven as your departed family members before you did?'  This meaning is a little less opaque in the Carter family version.

Chords

Capo at 1st Fret


Verse

G                                    G7

I was standing by the window

             C                           G
On one cold and cloudy day

           G
And I saw the hearse come rolling


 
          G7           D7          G
For to carry my mother away



Chorus

               G                G7
Will the circle be unbroken

               C                               G
Bye and bye, Lord, bye and bye

                 G
There's a better home a-waiting

 
         G                D7      G
In the sky, Lord, in the sky




Verse

G                                  G7

Lord I told the undertaker,

            C                               G
"Undertaker, please drive slow,

               G
For this body you are haulin'


 
           G7         D7        G
Lord, I hate to see her go."



Chorus

               G                G7
Will the circle be unbroken

               C                               G
Bye and bye, Lord, bye and bye

                 G
There's a better home a-waiting

 
         G                D7      G
In the sky, Lord, in the sky





Verse

   G                           G7

I followed close behind her,

               C                         G
Tried to hold up and be brave,

          G
But I could not hide my sorrow


 
                  G7         D7      G
When they laid her in the grave.



Chorus

               G                G7
Will the circle be unbroken

               C                               G
Bye and bye, Lord, bye and bye

                 G
There's a better home a-waiting

 
         G                D7      G
In the sky, Lord, in the sky





Verse

                    G                                           G7

Went back home lord - My home was lonesome;

              C                          G
Yes my mother she was gone.

            G
All my brothers, sisters cryin'


 
            G7          D7          G
What a home so sad and lone.



Chorus

               G                G7
Will the circle be unbroken

               C                               G
Bye and bye, Lord, bye and bye

                 G
There's a better home a-waiting

 
         G                D7      G
In the sky, Lord, in the sky

Lyrics

I was standing by the window
On one cold and cloudy day,
And I saw the hearse come rolling
For to carry my mother away.

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by Lord, by and by?
There's a better home awaiting
In the sky Lord, in the sky.

Lord I told the undertaker,
"Undertaker, please drive slow,
For this body you are haulin'
Lord, I hate to see her go."

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by Lord, by and by?
There's a better home awaiting
In the sky Lord, in the sky.

I followed close behind her,
Tried to hold up and be brave,
But I could not hide my sorrow
When they laid her in the grave.

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by Lord, by and by?
There's a better home awaiting
In the sky Lord, in the sky.

Went back home lord - My home was lonesome;
Yes my mother she was gone.
All my brothers, sisters cryin'
What a home so sad and lone.

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by Lord, by and by?
There's a better home awaiting
In the sky Lord, in the sky.

Other American Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs