New Delhi: ‘Abide With Me‘, the famous Christian hymn, has been dropped from the Beating Retreat ceremony, scheduled to be held on 29 January.
The iconic hymn, penned by Henry Francis Lyte in 1861 and set to tune by William Henry Monk, said to be a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi, has been traditionally played to conclude the annual 45-minute performance of military music, marking the last event of the Republic Day celebrations, at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi. The hymn has been used in the ceremony since 1950.
Replacing ‘Abide With Me‘ will be the soulful ‘Aye Mere Watan ke Logon‘, the patriotic song written by Kavi Pradeep, composed by C. Ramchandra, and memorably sung for the first time on Republic Day 1963 by Lata Mangeshkar.
“A decision was taken to include only Indian songs, since this retreat is a part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations. So, all tunes that will be played by the band will be Indian,” a sources in the defence establishment told ThePrint.
Beating Retreat signifies a military tradition dating back centuries, when troops stopped fighting, sheathed their arms, withdrew from the battlefield and returned to their camps at the sounding of the ‘retreat’. The ‘retreat’ was also sounded to recall patrolling units to their barracks.
Song list’s recent makeover
In 2020, as reported by ThePrint, there was speculation that the hymn may be dropped, to be replaced by Vande Mataram. However, no such decision was taken at the time.
The Narendra Modi government, in a bid to introduce Indian tunes and instruments, has been bringing changes to the list of tunes used on such state occasions.
The Beating Retreat ceremony in 2015 saw Indian classical instruments such as sitar, tabla and santoor make their debut.
In 2018, 25 of the 26 tunes used in the ceremony were composed by Indians. The only ‘English’ composition was ‘Abide With Me‘.
And, in 2019, Shankhanad, a tune composed by Tanuja Nafade, a professor from Nagpur, made it to the list of tunes to be played. The martial tune, composed for the Indian Army, is based on a poem written by Brig. Vivek Sohal. It was a meld of the ragas Bilaskhani Todi, Bhairavi and Kirvani.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)
Source: The Print