Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

I had planned to share this beautiful cover of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” at some point, but quixotically decided to record my own cover of the hymn instead. You see, kids, this is why we don’t let Adam near microphones.

My wobbly vocals are propped up by a dynamic piano arrangement from Silas Rosenskjold, who made it freely available on his YouTube channel. The photo in the video, snapped by my dad quite a number of years ago, shows the Basílica del Voto Nacional: a cathedral in Quito renowned for its architecture and hideous gargoyles.

I discovered this lovely hymn in a violent video game, of all places. BioShock Infinite, a first-person shooter, offers the most fascinating take on Christianity I’ve ever seen in a video game. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” is part of the game’s soundtrack.

Around the time I shared of how I almost left my faith last year, I found myself often listening to this hymn. Some of its questions seem to be aimed squarely at wavering skeptics like me.

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?

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?

One by one their seats were emptied, one by one they went away; now the family is parted—will it be complete one day?

One question, the question, stands above the rest: Will the circle be unbroken? Will that legacy of faith, cherished by your loved ones, upheld by generations past, live on in you—or will you break the circle? Will you be the one to shatter this legacy of religious faith?

I know people who’ve broken the circle. I know people who’ve kept it whole. For my part, the circle remains unbroken.

As I work with the elderly, I face regular reminders of the transience and frailty of human life. As James Thurber flatly expressed it, “Even a well-ordered life can not lead anybody safely around the inevitable doom that waits in the skies. As F. Hopkinson Smith long ago pointed out, the claw of the sea-puss gets us all in the end.”

While the skeptical part of me can’t help but question the notion of an afterlife, I rejoice that death is a temporary separation, not a permanent one. I can hardly bear the thought of losing loved ones forever.

When my family is parted, it will yet be reunited one day—thank God.


This post was originally published on June 3, 2016. TMTF shall return with new posts on Monday, September 5!

461. Adam Does Dark Rock

Yeah, this song again. What can I say? I like it.

The band Disturbed produced a dark rock cover of “The Sound of Silence,” and when I stumbled upon a karaoke track for it, I took a stab at recording a cover of my own. My timing isn’t very consistent, and the key change partway through doesn’t sound great, but I’ve sung worse.

Toward the end of the track, there are prerecorded background vocals for a single line. I tried to mask them with vocals of my own, but they still sound out of place. Ah, well. I prefer the original version anyway.

Speaking of which, at some point my dad and I may sit down and record a cover closer to Simon & Garfunkel’s original, with a guitar and two voices. My cover above is either a warm-up or a consolation project, depending on whether we actually get around to recording.

I read somewhere that it’s best to record standing up, so I perched my microphone atop a stack of books to give it some height. The summer heat was fierce—I kept the door and window shut to keep out ambient noise—so I blasted my laptop with a cooling breeze from my fan at intervals to keep it from overheating. Thanks to the experience I picked up from my last recording session, this one was a lot easier despite the ungodly heat.

My dad snapped the photo in the video somewhere in Uruguay—Punta Colorada, I think, but I don’t remember for sure. I’m the silhouette on the right, gazing out over the gleaming sea, and probably thinking of sandwiches.

In other news, it is so flipping hot outside. In fact, looking out the window, I think I just saw one of the local geese burst into flame.

I’d better turn on that fan again.

446. Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

I had planned to share this beautiful cover of “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” at some point, but quixotically decided to record my own cover of the hymn instead. You see, kids, this is why we don’t let Adam near microphones.

My wobbly vocals are propped up by a dynamic piano arrangement from Silas Rosenskjold, who made it freely available on his YouTube channel. The photo in the video, snapped by my dad quite a number of years ago, shows the Basílica del Voto Nacional: a cathedral in Quito renowned for its architecture and hideous gargoyles.

I discovered this lovely hymn in a violent video game, of all places. BioShock Infinite, a first-person shooter, offers the most fascinating take on Christianity I’ve ever seen in a video game. “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” is part of the game’s soundtrack.

Around the time I shared of how I almost left my faith last year, I found myself often listening to this hymn. Some of its questions seem to be aimed squarely at wavering skeptics like me.

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?

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?

One by one their seats were emptied, one by one they went away; now the family is parted—will it be complete one day?

One question, the question, stands above the rest: Will the circle be unbroken? Will that legacy of faith, cherished by your loved ones, upheld by generations past, live on in you—or will you break the circle? Will you be the one to shatter this legacy of religious faith?

I know people who’ve broken the circle. I know people who’ve kept it whole. For my part, the circle remains unbroken.

As I work with the elderly, I face regular reminders of the transience and frailty of human life. As James Thurber flatly expressed it, “Even a well-ordered life can not lead anybody safely around the inevitable doom that waits in the skies. As F. Hopkinson Smith long ago pointed out, the claw of the sea-puss gets us all in the end.”

While the skeptical part of me can’t help but question the notion of an afterlife, I rejoice that death is a temporary separation, not a permanent one. I can hardly bear the thought of losing loved ones forever.

When my family is parted, it will yet be reunited one day—thank God.

405. Adam Sings!

Instead of writing a proper post, I sang a song for today’s blog update. I should probably have written a proper post.

You can hear me sing “Baba Yetu” by clicking here!

“Baba Yetu” is one of my all-time favorite songs. Its background is frankly a bit strange: composed by Christopher Tin for a video game, it went on to win a Grammy Award—the first ever video game composition to score at the Grammys. Its lyrics are the Lord’s Prayer in Swahili.

Baba YetuTo recap: “Baba Yetu” was composed for a video game, won a Grammy, and features as its lyrics an ancient Christian prayer in flipping Swahili. Yes, this song is a bit of a weird one. I love it so much.

I enjoy singing, but I’m not great at it. As my long-suffering younger brother can confirm, I sing while doing household chores. I was in my high school choir back in the day, but that’s the extent of my singing experience.

I have a decent voice and can force a vibrato. (For my non-musical readers: A vibrato is when the pitch of a note wavers slightly… or in my case, when my voice wobbles.) However, tragically, I don’t have a good ear for music. I struggle to sing harmonies, and occasionally fail even to hit the correct notes or stay in the right key.

For this cover of “Baba Yetu,” I sang over one of Christopher Tin’s original tracks karaoke-style, adding bits here and there. I mixed my recordings in a witch’s cauldron an audio editing program called Audacity. I think my cover turned out all right, but I should mention that for every decent part of my performance, there were at least half a dozen takes that totally sucked. In audio mixing, as in writing, editing is magic.

I had really wanted to record a cover of “Baba Yetu” since singing it at an open mic night at my church. My performance kinda sucked. (I was really nervous.) I wanted to sing it again, to get it right, so I wound up recording it at home when I should probably have been blogging or sleeping.

At one point, shortly before I was ready to finalize the audio, Audacity couldn’t find the necessary files. I thought I had lost hours of work, but I was able to find the files again, thank God. Baba yetu, our Father, indeed.

“Baba Yetu” has become a popular song selection for choirs worldwide, including Procantus, the Uruguayan choir for which my dad sings. After I passed my favorite arrangement of the song on to my dad, he passed it on to his choir director, and the choir began practicing the song shortly thereafter.

(Oh my gosh, guys, I looked up the name of the choir to make sure I was spelling it right, and the very first search result on Google for “procantus montevideo” is a YouTube video of my dad singing “Baba Yetu” with the choir. The Internet can be a bizarrely small place. I would describe my aged parent as “the balding gentleman with the glasses,” but that describes nearly half the choir, so I’ll point him out as the gentleman on the left in the back row around the video’s seven-second mark.)

While finishing up “Baba Yetu,” I tried recording one or two Christmas, um, “carols,” but the recordings weren’t worth keeping. I don’t plan to record any more songs in the foreseeable future, but “Baba Yetu” was fun.


Do you know what’s even better than “Baba Yetu”? Saving lives with clean water! Please take a moment to check out Operation Yuletide! We’re raising money to help people this Christmas. There are even rewards and stuff! The fundraiser is lonely, guys. Check it out here!