Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Everyone knows the chorus of this old song:
“Will 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.”

Folk music has always been a part of my life, and since I can’t live without it, I’ve passed it on to my children. Now we are working together to share our love of heritage music with a wider audience, and we hope you’ll read (and listen) along. We will explore the value of traditional music, and try to address a few questions:

How are children changed by growing up with singing and music in the home?
How has our culture been changed by people who think in melody and stories because they grew up with timeless folk tunes?
How did the music get here, and is anybody still passing it on?
Do children still like it?
What do they gain from traditional music beyond the simple melodies and stories?
Are the songs and stories still relevant to the upcoming generation?

Maybe we should accept that the circle has been broken. Families don’t have as much of a musical and faith heritage as they once did, nobody wants to sit around singing the moon up anymore in a time when flickering screens beckon everybody away, and maybe people who collect dulcimers should just hush and let it go…

Before we get started on all those conversations and before we start really getting serious about sharing the music, I want to share a little bit of the circle that is unbroken in my family. The first song is a ballad called “Barbara Allen,” sung by my father to his own guitar accompaniment. I’ve heard him sing this song my whole life and I’m so glad I have an audio recording! The second song is “John Randall,” sung by my third son when he was only eight years old, with my husband playing the guitar for him. My father came into the world hearing music and is still singing and playing. The same is true for my son, and will be true for his children someday. This is our music. I hope you will enjoy these songs.