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Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken

DigiTrad:
CAN THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?


Related threads:
Lyr Add: Glory Glory/Since I Laid My Burden Down (25)
Lyr Req: Will The Turtle Be Unbroken? (Les Barker) (70)
Lyr Req: Will the circle be unbroken? (39)
Lyr Req: Will the Turtle Be Unbroken? (Les Barker) (44)
Lyr Req: Can the Serpent Be Housebroken (E Schmidt (24)
Chord Req: Urgent! 'Will the Circle be Unbroken'. (9)
Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken (in Irish) (6)


Rich (dwditty@erols.com) 05 Aug 97 - 05:16 AM
Gargoyle 05 Aug 97 - 05:46 AM
steve t 05 Aug 97 - 07:52 AM
LaMarca 08 Aug 97 - 02:15 PM
Gene 09 Aug 97 - 01:28 AM
Steve in Wisconsin 21 Aug 97 - 07:44 PM
Gene 21 Aug 97 - 09:03 PM
Bill D 22 Aug 97 - 02:58 PM
CarterNut 16 Aug 98 - 10:46 PM
Jenny 17 Aug 98 - 09:54 PM
Steve Walker 28 Oct 98 - 05:01 PM
mike.mcgrath@virgin.net 12 Nov 98 - 03:22 AM
Kaleea 15 Jul 01 - 06:26 AM
Susan of DT 15 Jul 01 - 08:36 AM
Barbara Shaw 15 Jul 01 - 11:24 AM
RangerSteve 15 Jul 01 - 06:14 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 26 Jul 01 - 07:24 PM
dwditty 26 Jul 01 - 09:52 PM
Stewie 26 Jul 01 - 10:00 PM
wysiwyg 26 Jul 01 - 10:01 PM
Ebbie 27 Jul 01 - 02:09 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 27 May 02 - 01:04 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 27 May 02 - 01:24 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 27 May 02 - 01:32 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 27 May 02 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,Kees 09 Aug 02 - 05:18 AM
masato sakurai 09 Aug 02 - 09:31 AM
GUEST,,gargoyle 09 Aug 02 - 09:52 AM
GUEST,Lee 03 Nov 02 - 10:13 PM
Access All Areas 04 Nov 02 - 02:52 AM
michaelr 05 Nov 02 - 01:40 AM
Cubs 05 Nov 02 - 02:08 AM
GUEST,Chaz 05 Nov 02 - 03:21 AM
GUEST,ossonflags 06 Nov 02 - 01:40 AM
GUEST,Bobby in london, UK 02 Sep 03 - 10:40 AM
wysiwyg 02 Sep 03 - 11:09 AM
GUEST,normwalker@accesscomm.ca 08 Jan 04 - 11:40 PM
PoppaGator 09 Jan 04 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,Strollin' Johnny 09 Jan 04 - 12:48 PM
The Fooles Troupe 09 Jan 04 - 06:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jan 04 - 11:14 PM
masato sakurai 22 Feb 04 - 08:49 PM
GUEST,gibsonbanjo@yahoo.com 24 Nov 04 - 09:07 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Nov 04 - 09:52 PM
GUEST,me 16 Jun 05 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,Virginia 09 Oct 07 - 10:34 AM
Jim Dixon 10 Oct 07 - 11:55 PM
PoppaGator 15 Jan 08 - 01:18 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jan 08 - 09:45 PM
Bluegrassman 18 Jan 08 - 07:54 PM
GUEST,Denise 29 Jan 08 - 06:05 PM
PoppaGator 29 Jan 08 - 06:29 PM
Big Mick 29 Jan 08 - 07:26 PM
GUEST,James J. James 08 Jun 08 - 11:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jun 08 - 12:54 AM
Jim Dixon 28 Mar 09 - 04:44 PM
Jim Dixon 28 Mar 09 - 04:59 PM
masato sakurai 28 Mar 09 - 09:36 PM
Joe Offer 29 Mar 09 - 01:19 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Mar 09 - 03:55 PM
GUEST,Anthony Platt 14 May 10 - 01:07 PM
C Stuart Cook 14 May 10 - 01:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 May 10 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,Norm Walker 21 Oct 10 - 10:01 PM
Joe Offer 10 Aug 13 - 10:58 PM
GUEST,JTT 11 Aug 13 - 02:03 PM
Gutcher 11 Aug 13 - 05:48 PM
GUEST 23 Mar 14 - 04:38 PM
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Subject: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Rich (dwditty@erols.com)
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 05:16 AM

Looking for lyrics to Will the Circle Be Unbroken or Lay My Burden Down of the same tune. Antone else a Joseph Spence fan?

I am new to the site and visit on a daily basis. To the Cyberfolkies resposible for keeping it going, a tip of the hat and a hearty thanks/


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Gargoyle
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 05:46 AM

One version is in the database under the title "Can the Circle be Unbroken?" A search under the word "circle" will bring it up.


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: steve t
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 07:52 AM

The gospel section of Rise Up Singing (specifically page 98) springs to mind.

Sounds like you don't yet own a copy of Rise Up Singing (RUS). Think hard about getting one. If you can't find one locally, you can order one at 1-800-4-we-sing. In about 300 pages, it's got lyrics and simple guitar chords to about 1200 songs, most of them very good. It's far from the last word in contemporary folks singing, but it's a good place to start.


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: LaMarca
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 02:15 PM

YES! I'm a big Joseph Spence fan! Unfortunately, lyrics are not Mr. Spence's strong point, so attempting to learn songs from a Joseph Spence recording is very painful. BTW, Jody Stecher recently released a CD with all the stuff he didn't include on The Real Bahamas 1 and 2, called "Kneelin' Down Inside the Gate" - just a recommendation if you like Bahamian music...


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Subject: Add: WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN (Original)
From: Gene
Date: 09 Aug 97 - 01:28 AM

CAN the Circle Be Unbroken and WILL the Circle Be Unbroken...are two entirely different songs....

WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?
(Ada R. Habershon & Charles H. Gabriel, 1907)

1. There are loved ones in the glory
Whose dear forms you often miss.
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?

CHORUS: Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
Is a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the sky?

2. In the joyous days of childhood,
Oft they told of wondrous love
Pointed to the dying Saviour,
Now they dwell with Him above.

3. 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?

4. You can picture happy gath'rings
Round the fireside long ago,
And you think of tearful partings
When they left you here below.

5. One by one their seats were emptied,
One by one they went away,
Now the family is parted,
Will it be complete one day?




    Lyrics and song authorship verified in Alexander's Gospel Songs, By Charles McCallon Alexander, Published by Fleming H. Revell, 1908
    I'm going to add the Carter family lyrics to this message so we have verified lyrics toward the top of the thread.
    -Joe Offer, 28 March 2009-


CAN THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN
(A.P. Carter, recorded by The Carter Family on 6 May, 1935)

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.
    Oh, Can the circle be unbroken
    By and by, Lord, by and by?
    There's a better home a-waiting
    In the sky, Lord, in the sky.
Lord, I told the undertaker,
Undertaker, please drive slow;
For this body you are hauling,
Lord, I hate to see her go.
    Can the circle be unbroken
    By and by, Lord, by and by?
    There's a better home a-waiting
    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.
    Can the circle be unbroken
    By and by, Lord, by and by?
    There's a better home a-waiting
    In the sky, Lord, in the sky.
Went back home Lord, My home was lonesome,
Since my mother she was gone;
All my brothers, sisters crying,
What a home so sad and lone.
      Can the circle be unbroken
      By and by, Lord, by and by?
      There's a better home a-waiting
      In the sky, Lord, in the sky.


    Transcribed by ear from the 1935 Carter Family recording. -JRO-


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Subject: Lyr Add: WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN
From: Steve in Wisconsin
Date: 21 Aug 97 - 07:44 PM

Hi-

Okay, now I'm confused. What follows at the end of my post are the lyrics to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" as sung--I believe--by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Play the Em chord like they do--it sounds great).

Acoustically,
Steve

WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN
Traditional(?)

CHORUS: 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 was standing by my window
On a cold and cloudy day
When I saw that hearse come rolling
For to carry my mother away. CHORUS

Lord, I told that undertaker
Undertaker please drive slow
For this body that you're hauling
Lord, I hate to see her go. CHORUS

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. CHORUS

I went home, my home was lonely
Now my mother she was gone
All my brothers, sisters crying
What a home so sad and alone. CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Gene
Date: 21 Aug 97 - 09:03 PM

A check at both BMI and ASCAP lists only one song by the title: Can The Circle Be Unbroken.

It was recorded by The Carter Family on 6 May, 1935..

Check the data base for lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Aug 97 - 02:58 PM

Steve..."wal...I specs ef Mother Maybelle could get thru it without an Em chord, it's good enough for me"
*creak creak* goes the old rocking chair

(autoharp players collect songs that have 3 or fewer chords...)


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: CarterNut
Date: 16 Aug 98 - 10:46 PM

My chair is creaking too.


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Jenny
Date: 17 Aug 98 - 09:54 PM

You can order "Rise Up Singing" on Amazon.com and use the Mudcat link.


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Subject: CAN THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?
From: Steve Walker
Date: 28 Oct 98 - 05:01 PM

Hi,

I was looking for the chords to a song my local folk band often play, and one of the songs the criteria turned up was the one in the subject line. Although the words are different, I'm pretty sure the tune is the same.

Does anybody know the chords, or where I can get them from?

Steve


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Subject: Lyr Add: CAN THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?^^^
From: mike.mcgrath@virgin.net
Date: 12 Nov 98 - 03:22 AM

Hi Steve
If these are the words to your song, I should be able to get the chords for you. Let me know.

Mike

CAN THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN?

CHORUS: Can the circle be unbroken,
By and by, Lord, by and by?
There's a better home a-waiting
In the sky, Lord, in the sky.

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.

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

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.

Went back home, Lord, my home was lonesome
Since my mother, she was gone;
All my brothers, sisters crying
What a home so sad and lone.

Now my mother, she's crossed over
Where so many have gone before.
And I know, Lord, I will meet her
Just waiting at glory's door.

This is the version in the Digital Tradition


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Subject: History of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'
From: Kaleea
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 06:26 AM

Is the song "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" credited to Alvin P. Carter under a copyright or in the public domain? Since the song was originally written another original composer was it contested? Where can I find a posting of the original hymn?


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Subject: RE: History of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'
From: Susan of DT
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 08:36 AM

(From dick greenhaus) The earliest date I've seen for this is 1907, reportedly composed by Fanny Crosby. Different verse than AP Carter's, though.


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Subject: RE: History of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 11:24 AM

Thanks for the link to Fanny Crosby! It led me to the songwriter of "Pass Me By" recorded by the Bray Brothers in 1962 (I think) which I have been looking for. She wrote the words in 1868.


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Subject: RE: History of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'
From: RangerSteve
Date: 15 Jul 01 - 06:14 PM

Thanks for the Fanny Crosby version. I've been looking for it for a while. I always thought the version that everyone sings is kind of morbid.


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Subject: Lyr Add: WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN (from Crosby)
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 07:24 PM

I'm sure I saw a thread here on the Mudcat which covered this, but....

Apparently the song we know was modified by AP Carter of the Carter Family. Their version is called "Can the Circle Be Unbroken". The original is "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" by Fanny Crosby.

Some of the hymns of Fanny Crosby are here: Fanny Crosby Hymns

Here are her words:

WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN

This is the original version of the famous Grand Ole Opry closing song. It was written in 1907. The Carter family recorded a variation of this song called Can The Circle Be Unbroken in 1935, which became a favorite at the Grand Ole Opry.

1. There are loved ones in the glory,
Whose dear forms you often miss:
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?

CHORUS: Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
In a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the sky?

2. In the joyous days of childhood,
Oft they told of wondrous love,
Pointed to the dying Savior
Now they dwell with Him above.

3. You can picture happy gath'rings
Round the fireside long ago.
And you think of tearful partings,
When they left you here below:

4. One by one heir seats were emptied,
One by one they went away;
Here the circle has been broken
Will it be complete one day?


    See above (and below). George's attribution of song authorship to Fanny Crosby is apparently incorrect.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: dwditty
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 09:52 PM

Well thank, George Seto.. Almost 4 years to the day.

dw


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Stewie
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 10:00 PM

According to Alec Davidson's discography in 'The Carter Family' Old Time Music Booklet #1, the Carter Family made 2 recordings for Victor [76287-1 and 76710-1] under the title 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken' on 17 June 1933. The former was rejected (master believed to be destroyed) and the latter was unissued. Does anyone know whether this was the same version as the recording for ARC on 6 May 1935 and issued as 'Can the Circle Be Unbroken'? Has the unissued 1933 Victor, under the 'Will the Circle' title, been issued in the recent Bear Family box set? I did not get the Bear Family set as I already had the Rounder 9-CD set and could not justify the expense.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: wysiwyg
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 10:01 PM

That Fanny!

CyberHymnal lists all her pen names too-- lotta them!

~S~


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Ebbie
Date: 27 Jul 01 - 02:09 PM

The 'Fanny Crosby' version is the one I learned as a child. However, have you noticed that Will the Circle, etc, is very different from her usual style of hymn? I know she was prolific- wrote more than a hundred of our frequently sung hymns- but this one is much more gospel-y than hymnlike.

At music the other night, someone mentioned, as noted above, that Charles Gabriel is listed as having written 'Circle'. Could that attribution be correct?

Ebbie


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 May 02 - 01:04 AM

Confusion still reigns at Mudcat concerning "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" and who wrote them.

Gene, in this thread back in 1997, correctly posted the words and the names of the authors of "Will The Circle be Unbroken." The words are the work of Ada Ruth Habershon (1861-1918, born in London, England), written before 1908, with music by Charles H. Gabriel (1856-1932). The Cyberhymnal provides a midi of the tune.

Frances Jane (Fanny) Crosby (1820-1915, born in New York) wrote many hymns, under a number of names, but "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" was not one of them. The Cyberhymnal contains quite a number of her compositions.

There is similarity between the tune composed by Charles Gabriel and that of "Can the Circle Be Unbroken," composed by the Carters(?)

The Habershon-Gabriel composition was made famous through The Grand Old Opry but Fanny Crosby did not write it.

The Cyberhymnal is looking for a picture of Ada Habershon and information about her place of burial. She wrote well over 200 hymns but few survive in print. She lectured in America and her lectures were published. The Cyberhymnal has five of her hymns, including "Will the Circle Be Unbroken."
The song bears little relationship to "Can the Circle Be Unbroken," except the chorus, which may have been borrowed, with slight changes.

The words and midi, in the Cyberhymnal: Will The Circle


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 May 02 - 01:24 AM

I should add that the tunes, as well as the chorus, bear a resemblance to each other.
(Note to Netscape users- Attempts to get biography on Fanny Crosby in Cyberhymnal brought up "illegal operation." I had to use Internet Explorer to get the information.)

Vance Randolph, in "Ozark Folksongs," vol. 4, p. 74, has a shortened version of "Can the Circle Be Unbroken," which he says "is a favorite with the Pentecostal or Holy Roller singers in Missouri and Arkansas." His version was collected in 1941, thus may have been heard on the radio or taken from a songbook. It is the same as verses 1, 2, 3 and chorus in the DT, which is unattributed. Randolph notes "that it differs widely from the hymn printed in various church songbooks."


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 May 02 - 01:32 AM

The tune given by Randolph is the same as the midi given in the DT. Listening again to the midi in the Cyberhymnal of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," the tunes are so close that I have to agree that it is the tune also used for "Can the Circle Be Unbroken."


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Subject: Chords Add: WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 May 02 - 02:54 PM

The DT has (unattributed) a song with the title "Can the Circle Be Unbroken." The title used in the Carter site: Will the Circle is "Will the Circle Be Unbroken." The same title is used in Cowpie. I believe that the use of "Can" came later, from the chorus as used by "The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band" on their classic album, but others, probably including A. P. Carter, sang "Can" as well.

We have the hymn by Ada R. Habershon and Charles H, Gabriel, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken," and a second song with the same title, entirely different words, with the tune composed by Gabriel used for both.

The Carter website has only the first three verses and chorus of the "Can the Circle Be Unbroken" version in the DT. I believe that the 4th and 5th verses were added later, perhaps by the Carters, perhaps by others.

A version submitted to Cowpie by Steve Putz (title "Will the Circle ..."), attributed to A. P. Carter, has guitar chords.

I was st(E)anding by my window
On a c(A)loudy d(E)ay
(E)When I saw the hearse come rollin'
For to take my (B7)love a(E)way.

Note that he changes "mother" to "love." In following verses he changes "her" to "him," so the song may be sung by a woman.

Cowpie: Will The Circle (In the box at left, enter "Will the Circle")

Both songs with proper attributions should be in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,Kees
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 05:18 AM

Could anyone please explain to me what the phrase "Can the circle be unbroken" followed by "By and by Lord, by and by" exactly means? I like the song very much, but I am really puzzled by the chorus. Is it based on some verse in the Bible?


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: masato sakurai
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 09:31 AM

The Carter Family version of "Can The Circle Be Unbroken" (1935) can be heard at the Honkingduck site. This is the only one on The Bear Family collection. In addition to the two recordings in 1933, they recorded two takes in 1935; ARC 17472-1 was unissued (Kip Lornell, Virginia's Blues, Country, & Gospel Records 1902-1943, p. 51)

The Monroe Brothers recorded "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" (Habershon/Gabriel version) in 1936 ("For some reason, the session sheets credit the tune to Zeke Morris, the duet pardner of wade Mainer"--Chales Wolfe), which is on The Monroe Brothers, Volume 2: Just a Song of Old Kentucky (Rounder 82161-1074-2) [with sound clip]. "Will the Circle Be Unbroken is heard here in its earlier incarnation, as it was first published in church songbooks in 1912 and as popularized by the radio singers from South Carolina, The McCravy Brothers." (Wolfe)

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,,gargoyle
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 09:52 AM

KEES -It is an "alter call" song. It is not scripture.

When the opportunity to accept Christ as your personal Lord and Savior is presented you are given the opportunity to make a public declaration of faith by walking down the aisle before the congregation.

The opening stanza presents the scenario.

There are loved ones in the glory,
Whose dear forms you often miss;
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?

Refrain

Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
In a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the sky?

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,Lee
Date: 03 Nov 02 - 10:13 PM

I haven't seen every posting in this thread, so maybe I'm repeating information. But 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken' was composed circa 1906 (my gospel hymnbooks are at another location, so I can't verify the exact year). The composer was Charles H. Gabriel (Send the Light, Higher Ground, Since Jesus Came Into My Heart, etc.) and the words were written by Ada R. Habershon. The song was lifted by the Carter Family, with words added about the mother and the hearse, etc. I have no idea how so many have gotten away with helping themselves to this song, but so it goes. The Carter Family also took Howard Entwhistle's 'Keep On the Sunny Side of Life,' a song that originally came out around 1892.

'Circle' is meant to be cautionary. The question of the title means, "Are you going to Heaven, as have your loved ones who passed on, or will the circle be broken?" Many have softened the words into a promise of salvation, whereas the original words do not in any way guarantee a trip to the Gloryland. "Will You Mess Up and Destroy the Family's Record of Salvation?" doesn't make as colorful a title. A little awkward and verbose.

Another gospel song of the period was called "Will the Circle Be Broken?"

Lee


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Access All Areas
Date: 04 Nov 02 - 02:52 AM

Hi everyone!
    I Know a good version of this song by Les Barker.....


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: michaelr
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 01:40 AM

A good point, Guest Lee, about the cautionary element... I admit to missing that aspect.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Cubs
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 02:08 AM

The leader of a band I used to play and sing in has a ministry of singing in convolescent homes. After one of his sessions a resident approached him and said that he, the resident, had played guitar for the original Carter family, still had his songbook and would Brad like to see it? Brad said yes (his mother didn't raise dummies) and, when he had it firmly in hand, photocopied every page.

He told me about the experience after he had taken the time to examine the songs. At the end of his relating of the experience he said, "A.P. claimed a bunch of songs he didn't write."

This is not to take away from A.P. Carter, nor his daughters, sons-in-law, or grand-daughters (just to mention those with whom I am familiar) or their spiritual descendants (Word Publishing, Michael W. Smith and John Tesh come to mind). I would prefer that all songwriters had Woody Guthrie's attitude. Alas, that is not to be.


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken to Guest Kees
From: GUEST,Chaz
Date: 05 Nov 02 - 03:21 AM

"Will the circle be unbroken?" and "can the circle be unbroken"...

The circle is the family, both earthly and of Heaven, and yes, the circle is broken (the family circle) and by meeting up yonder (in Haven,)by and by (not now but at some future time,)the family will be reunited and the circle unbroken.

Speaking of circles and dying, the Blue Sky Boys cut a song some yestertime that has a passage :

"There's grief within the circle, as the old clock tolls the hour..."
referring to a loss that soon is to occur.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,ossonflags
Date: 06 Nov 02 - 01:40 AM

For what it is worth, this is the extra verse I sing:

"Now my mother, she's passed over
Like so many have done before,
And I know, Lord, she'll be waiting,
Just waiting at heaven's door."


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Subject: RE: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,Bobby in london, UK
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 10:40 AM

Hi everyone!

Isn't it amazing to see so many talks on this particular song. It has long been my favourite song, although I have lost the original recording that I heard so many years back. It was sung by a duet of two boyish sounding singers (I can't recall their names or the name of the group because it was one of a selection of oldies). The song starts with "There are loved ones in the glory...." The arrangements were a little like early bluegrass and the chorus sounded just so beautiful that it immediately rooted in my memory. I have been searching for the recording on the internet but without any success.
Does anyone happen to know the version or can anyone point me to the right direction please? My email address, just in case, is bobby_witty@yahoo.com
Many thanks


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: wysiwyg
Date: 02 Sep 03 - 11:09 AM

I believe the version you want it posted above... but here is an additional verse we use in our church:

Now my mother always told us
When the Savior calls us home
We'll see all our friends and family
And the circle does go on

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,normwalker@accesscomm.ca
Date: 08 Jan 04 - 11:40 PM

I have a 78 recording of the hymn "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" by James and Frank McGravy. ;There are three verses: 1) There are loved ones in the glory...:2) Can you picture happy gatherings...: 3) One by one their seats were emptied. There's also a short violin instrumental of "In the Sweet By and By" between the second and third verses.

This is a wonderful song that needs to be rediscovered, the way I did.

Norm


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 12:41 PM

With all the discussion of all the different versions, I'm surprised that no one has picked up on one issue alluded to in the original post -- the fact that the same tune used for "Circle" . . .

(or one of the tunes, anyway -- I had never been aware of the two different hymns before this, or the difference between "Can the..." and "Will the...")

. . . is also used for "Glory Glory Hallelulia / When I Lay My Burden Down."

My observation is that "Circle" is generally part of white rural/Southern culture, while "Glory" is pretty much a black-gospel number, very popular as a jazz-funeral march.

It would be nice to learn more lyrics to "Glory/Burden"; I don't know any beyond the two lines shown above as title.

Same melody, same general subject matter (death) -- which came first? I find this very interesting to wonder about, but don't harbor any hope for a definitive answer. I would be very dubious of someone's published claim for credit as the composer, but realize there's not much else to go by.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 12:48 PM

Prefer 'Will The Turtle Be Unbroken'. Much more fun.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 06:28 PM

Strollin' Johnny, you beat me to it...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 11:14 PM

Poppagator, little is known about "Glory - Burden, beyond what Masato posted in thread 39204: Glory - Burden
Unless there is a note about it in Odum and Johnson 1926, Negro Workaday Songs, we know nothing about this song's origins. Black gospel, 20th century, is probably a good guess. It is not mentioned in Odum and Johnson, 1925, "The Negro and His Songs." It is not included in any of the books on Negro spirituals.

The Elders McIntosh and Edwards Sanctified Singers recorded it in 1928 as "Since I Laid My Burden Down" (see Traditional Ballad Index csufresno: Laid My Burden Down


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the circle be unbroken?
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 Feb 04 - 08:49 PM

According to Meade et al.'s Country Music Sources, the Habershon and Gabriel song was composed in 1905. Copyright renewed in 1935 (Richard Maxwell's Songs of Cheer and Comfort, 1938, p. 30).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,gibsonbanjo@yahoo.com
Date: 24 Nov 04 - 09:07 PM

Can anyone supply me with the lyrics to the gospel hymn: "When I lay My Burden Down"?

Thanks,
Rusty


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Nov 04 - 09:52 PM

Guest, if you put lay my burden down in the Search blank, several threads come up.
It looks like thread 39204 will help you: Lay My Burden


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,me
Date: 16 Jun 05 - 12:28 PM

The best version of "will the circle be unbroken" is sung in the movie "Iron Jawed Angels". It is a great movie!!! It is the version about the mother, the best version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,Virginia
Date: 09 Oct 07 - 10:34 AM

Could I get the chords and words both for Will the Circle be Unbroken please?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 11:55 PM

Google Book Search found WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN in "Alexander's Gospel Songs," compiled by Charles McCallon Alexander, New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1908.

Lyrics and authorship credits are exactly as Gene posted them on 09-Aug-97 above.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the circle be unbroken?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Jan 08 - 01:18 PM

I've mentioned this elsewhere, in other threads about this song:

Have you noticed that the same melody is used for the hymn...

Glory glory, halleluliah
When I lay my burden down.
Glory glory, halleluliah
When I lay my burden down.

Burden down, Lord, burden down,
When I lay my burden down
Burden down, Lord, burden down,
When I lay my burden down

I think of Circle as the country/white version and Glory as the New Orleans/Black/street-parade version. Once is about a funeral and the other is written to be sung at a funeral...and in fact is always featured at traditional jazz funerals.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the circle be unbroken?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jan 08 - 09:45 PM

They are the same to my mind too. I have been trying to find the "Glory, glory hallelujah" found by Ballanta-Taylor, "St. Helena Island Spirituals;" not seen but may be the same.
Mississippi Fred McDowell does a good version. It does not seem to be confined to any one area in the South. Whites sing and play it too, but it does seem to be more of a Black version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Will the circle be unbroken?
From: Bluegrassman
Date: 18 Jan 08 - 07:54 PM

With a few slight variations the lyrics in the preceding posts are the ones I sing. However, on the cd "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and guests the last two lines of the last verse are

   ...Songs that Mother Maybelle taught us
      And the angels (will?) sing along.

Can anyone supply the two missing lines?

Hows about these words

We sang the songs of our childhood
Hymns of faith that made us strong
Songs that Mother Maybelle taught us
And the angels sang our song


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Subject: RE: History of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'
From: GUEST,Denise
Date: 29 Jan 08 - 06:05 PM

Sorry tell tell all, but the song was orginally written as a poem. It was written by my mother when her mother passed away at an early age.My mother's sister, my aunt sent the poem in to the carter family and made a big hit out of my mother's words. It did not come out as a song until my mother was married and had kids of her own.


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Subject: RE: History of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'
From: PoppaGator
Date: 29 Jan 08 - 06:29 PM

As noted in other threads, the usual melody used for this song is the same as that of the spiritual "Glory Glory Halleluliah, When I Lay My Burden Down."

I would feel pretty sure that this melody should be considered public domain, whatever the origin of the words might be.

Denise, your story is very interesting and also plausible. If three's any way you could prove it, your family could well be in line for considerable back royalty payments! (I realize that this might not be your motive at all, but it is an interesting consideration...)


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Subject: RE: History of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'
From: Big Mick
Date: 29 Jan 08 - 07:26 PM

Easy to make such a claim, Denise, but could you please provide enough data that we could verify that story? I, for one, would love for this to be true, but I have never heard of it before.

Mick


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Subject: RE: History of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'
From: GUEST,James J. James
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 11:36 PM

I heard this song was first publiched by James D. Vaughn in Lawrencburg, TN where I'm from. Is there any truth to this? Please let me know at the e-mail address below.

preacherboy@netscape.com


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Subject: RE: History of 'Will the Circle Be Unbroken'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 12:54 AM

Have you a date for that publication? Any more information?

According to Cyberhymnal, It was written by Ada Habershon and Charles H. Gabriel composed the music.

(Not many of us will give our email addresses in public threads)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 04:44 PM

Not the source of the song, evidently, but sharing the same phrase and metaphor:

From Family Memorials in Prose and Verse by Theodore James Elmore (Savannah, GA: Morning News Steam Printing House, 1880):

Excerpt from

TIN WEDDING
[by Theodore J. Elmore?]

To Brother Jerome and Sister Emeline, on the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of their Wedding, Tuesday Evening, November 5, 1878.

...Then again, as in the goodly
  Olden time of long ago,
Shall the circle be unbroken—
  Foiled, the last and conquering foe—
Then again shall we be truly
  One, though some passed on before,
Waiting there to sweetly welcome
  Us, who now approach the shore....


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Subject: RE: Origin: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 04:59 PM

From Catalog of Copyright Entries by Copyright Office, Library of Congress, New Series, Vol. 29, No. 7, Part 3: Musical Compositions, 1934.

Under "Renewals", page 741:

Will the circle be unbroken; w Ada R. Habershon, m Chas. H. Gabriel. © Charles H. Gabriel, Jr., Hollywood, Calif., as child of the deceased author. R 32560. 430


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Subject: RE: Origin: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: masato sakurai
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 09:36 PM

William MacEwan, Glasgow street singing evangelist, sang "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." It's on Scotland's Stars On 78: William MacEwan.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 01:19 AM

There's some confusing information toward the top of the thread. As far as I can tell the definitive versions (actually two different but related songs) are the 1907 song by Ada R. Habershon & Charles H. Gabriel; and the 1935 (?) song by A.P. Carter. I see no reason to believe that the "undertaker" lyrics come from anybody but Carter.

Is there any connection at all between Fanny Crosby and this song? Was there a "Fanny Crosby version"? What version was sung at the Grand Ole Opry.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 03:55 PM

Odd how Fanny Crosby gets cited as composer by so many people. She wrote 'thousands' (first book published when she was 24) and used many 'aliases" but "Will the Circle be Unbroken" was by Ada Habershon.
A list of Crosby's most well-known hymns at cyberhymnal:
Crosby bio

I used to listen to the Grand Old Opry many years ago, but I don't remember the words used with the hymn, which I believe was sung at the conclusion of the show.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,Anthony Platt
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:07 PM

Does anybody have this original song in full? In full... I want to hear this bad boy... Not the Nitty Gritty version... the real version... with substance, and not just intended to be sentimental.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: C Stuart Cook
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:41 PM

Has anyone ever heard of a Betsy Rutherford? I used to have a compilation cassette with this song on it by her.

Never managed to find out anything about despite a number of enquiries. Raw, rip the air singing that was just electrifying.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:37 PM

My dear Mr. Platt, the original was a hymn by Ada Habershon.
    Chorus:
    Will the circle be unbroken
    By and by, by and by?
    In a better home awaiting
    In the sky, in the sky?

The hymn, with midi of original tune by Charles Gabriel, at Cyberhymnal.
http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/w/i/willthec.htm


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,Norm Walker
Date: 21 Oct 10 - 10:01 PM

I have been enchanted by this song since before my January 2004 posting above. I recently recorded "Will the Circle Be Unbroken (the original hymn by Ada Habershon)" with all five verses. It should be released late in 2010 or early in 2011. The cd title will be "Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts". Check my website in early 2011 if you are interested: http://www.normwalker.com/


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Aug 13 - 10:58 PM

My friend Mrs. Lev has been enchanted with folk music since she took guitar lessons in Chicago from Frank Hamilton as a young housewife in the 1960s. She was one of the founding members of the Sacramento Folk Music Club after she moved to California, and she still comes to singarounds in the Sacramento area. At our song circle last night, we sang "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," and Marge had us sing a couple verses that she found in the Studs Terkel book titled Will the Circle Be Unbroken which deals with the subject of death. I'd like to post a segment from that book, an interview with Doc Watson:

    POSTSCRIPT (page 240)
    STUDS: When I think of you and Merle, I think of the old hymn, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?"

    DOC: I've always loved that song. It's an old hymn, long before A.P. Carter did his arrangement of it. Let me give you the lyrics that was probably in an old hymn book:
      We have loved ones gone to glory
      Whose dear forms we often miss
      When we close our earthly story
      Shall we join them in our bliss

      Will the circle be unbroken, by and by, by and by,
      There's a better home awaiting far beyond the starry sky.
    In this other version, the last verse says:[sings]
      We can picture happy gatherings around the fireside long ago
      And recall the tearful partings when they left us here below.
    It's just as real as life for those who believe. Whoever wrote it was inspired to write it because of the way they felt about life and death and the hereafter.[sings]
      Oft they told us in our childhood of that happy land above
      Pointing to the dying savior as they told us of his love
      Will the circle be unbroken by and by, by and by...
    I may do another gospel album sometime before I lose the old voice and age takes the vocals down to where I can't sing. I have some allergies, but I told the boys on the festival, I said, "I can still croak 'em out pretty good, boys." [Laughs] I love to sing gospel and hymns I heard when I was in church. I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.




From Wikipedia:

Eddy Merle Watson (February 8, 1949 - October 10, 1985) was an American guitarist and folk singer. He was best known for the performances he did with his father, Doc Watson. They played and recorded albums together for 15 years until Merle's death in a tractor accident.

Arthel Lane "Doc" Watson (March 3, 1923 – May 29, 2012) was an American guitarist, songwriter and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel music. Watson won seven Grammy awards as well as a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Louis "Studs" Terkel (May 16, 1912 – October 31, 2008) was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. He received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for "The Good War", and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans, and for hosting a long-running radio show in Chicago.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 02:03 PM

GUEST Kees asks: "Could anyone please explain to me what the phrase "Can the circle be unbroken" followed by "By and by Lord, by and by" exactly means? I like the song very much, but I am really puzzled by the chorus. Is it based on some verse in the Bible?"

Kees, "By and by" is shorthand for "in the afterlife", or rather "in heaven" - for instance, used in the popular 19th-century hymn "In the Sweet By and By", satirised by the socialist Joe Hill in his equally popular 20th-century song "The Preacher and the Slave", with its chorus "There'll be pie in the sky by and by, by and by in the sweet by and by", which was a big hit in the hungry 1930s.

So the chorus of "Circle Be Unbroken" is asking the Lord: "Can the circle of love and friendship remain unbroken, O Lord, even after death?".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: Gutcher
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 05:48 PM

Recorded on Beltona in 1931 by Dugald McNeill--restricted length due to time limit of 78rpm record.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 14 - 04:38 PM

Does anyone have the chords for the 1907 version


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