Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

for SATB choir a cappella

Traditional folk and bluegrass song. Arranged by Mark Templeton. This arrangement of Will the Circle Be Unbroken? was commissioned in 2003 by the choir of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, West Virginia. The original hymn, written by Ada Habershon and Charles Gabriel and published in 1907, became popular amongst congregations in the southern United States. Throughout the 20th century, it was arranged and rearranged many times by numerous gospel groups and folk artists. In 1972, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band famously used the song as the title to one of their albums featuring various bluegrass and country-western musicians. The text used in that album was written by A. P. Carter of the Carter Family and was significantly different from Ada Habershon’s original text. The text used for this arrangement is also different but still emotes the same sentiment of leaving loved ones behind. All the verses are taken from either the Southern Harmony or the Sacred Harp and are appropriately suited to compliment the refrain. The syncopated and driving rhythms juxtaposed with the straight forward melody make this a fun song to sing. The slow barbershop style harmonies of the fifth verse also give a welcome contrast to the overall flair of the piece. With an ever increasing climactic ending, this song is sure to bring down the house.

SKU: MTN-003 Categories: , Instrumentation:
Season or Event:Evensong, General, Vespers
Descriptive Tags:Circle, Family, Folk Hymn, Folksong, Friendship, Spirituals, Traditional, Worship
Difficulty:Intermediate, Advanced Student
Instrumentation:A Cappella
Sacred or Secular:Sacred
Duration:5-10 Minutes


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