Posted by: rcottrill | May 16, 2019

Will the Circle Be Unbroken

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Words: Ada Ruth Habershon (b. Jan. 8, 1861; d, Feb. 1, 1918)
Music: Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (b. Aug. 18, 1856; d. Sept. 15, 1932)

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal

Note: Ada Habershon was an English author, Bible teacher and hymn writer, Miss Habershon was brought up in a Christian home by believing, praying parents, and her whole life was devoted to God’s service. In 1884 she was invited by evangelist Dwight Moody to deliver lectures on the Old Testament in America, which she did. The lectures were later published in book form.

There’s a very early recording of a version of Havershon’s song by the Carter Family, famed pioneers of folk music in America. However, if you listen to the recording here, you’ll see a marked difference in the lyrics. The Carter version focuses on a funeral and the grieving family; Havershon’s original was about faith, and a hope to see the family circle complete in heaven. No such hope is found in the Carter’s song. Only a question, “Can the circle be unbroken?”

Since 1932, a monthly magazine called Family Circle has been published, focusing on the needs and interests of the home and family. So just what is a “family circle”? It’s a term, in use since at least the early nineteenth century, identifying the most closely related members of a family, the immediate family as a group,.

This would seem to include the father and mother, their parents, and their children, and possibly grandchildren, but exclude uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. (The term extended family fits better there.) As to children, western couples seem to be having fewer today. The average is one or two. But this writer met an older woman recently who is one of seventeen children. That would make a big circle indeed!

Many have pointed out that families are the essential building blocks of society. Pope John XXIII said the family “must be considered the first and essential cell of human society.” Eighteenth century portrait painter William Aikman said, “Civilization varies with the family, and the family with civilization.” American author and educator William Thayer said simply, “As are families, so is society.”

God knew that, since He invented families. Our first parents were brought together by the Lord Himself (Gen. 2:24), and told to “be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). Not on their own, of course, but through their descendants and newly created family units. However, simply adding to the population is not the end of parental responsibility. We’re to “train up a child in the way he [or she] should go” (Prov. 22:6). In a loving home there’s nurturing, protection, and much more.

Today, the Christian home is to be God’s workshop where faith in Him is nurtured, and godly character built. Fathers are told to “bring [children] up in the training and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). This, in turn, can have a profound influence on society as a whole, helping to turn many Godward. “Blessed is the nation,” [and] “happy are the people whose God is the Lord (Ps. 33:12; 144:15). “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

But to return to the family circle, it should be the fervent prayer of parents that their children learn to love the Lord Jesus, and put their faith in Him. John writes, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III Jn. 1:4)–likely referring to his spiritual children, in that case, those won to the Lord through his ministry. And Paul rejoiced that his friend and co-worker Timothy had the godly influence of his mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5), through whom “from childhood you have known the holy Scriptures” (II Tim. 3:15).

Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if your family circle and mine were united in faith, and thus remained unbroken in heaven? In other words, that they’d all be a part of God’s forever family, some of whom are now in heaven, others on the earth (Eph. 3:15)–a family bound together by their common love for the Saviour (Jn. 1:12; Gal. 3:26).

Ada Habershon thought so. In 1907 she gave us a thoughtful gospel song about the family circle, encouraging each family member to consider their eternal destiny.

CH-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?

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

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

CH-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?

CH-5) One by one their seats were emptied,
One by one they went away;
Here the circle has been broken–
Will it be complete one day?

1) What are some of the blessings of belonging to a Christian family?

2) Are there family members of yours you’re still praying will come to Christ?

Wordwise Hymns
The Cyber Hymnal


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