Christian Hymn ‘Abide With Me’ Still Part of Beating Retreat Tunes

(CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this report, The Quint quoted Hindustan Times and Deccan Herald reports which said, quoting official sources, that the Defence Ministry has decided to drop 'Abide by Me’ tune in the line up for the 2020 Beating Retreat ceremony.)

Contrary to earlier media reports, ‘Abide With Me’ – the Christian hymn, believed to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite will remain a part of the Beating Retreat Ceremony – organised to mark the culmination of four-day-long Republic Day celebrations. The event is organised at the Vijay Chowk on 29 January every year.

As tradition goes, the ceremony closes with Abide With Me’ every year. In an earlier version of this report, The Quint quoted the Hindustan Times and Deccan Herald reports, quoting official sources, which said the Defence Ministry has decided to drop the tune in the 2020 ceremony.

Several other organisations including Scroll.in, The Wire, The Hindu, and The Week also reported that the hymn was dropped.

The ceremony, however, will close with ‘Sare Jahan Se Acha,’ tweeted senior journalist Manu Pubby, on Thursday, 23 January.

Abhishek Bhalla, another journalist, tweeted a video of the hymn being played at the rehearsal ceremony on 22 January.

Mahatma’s Favourite

Written by Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte in the nineteenth century and composed by William Henry Monk, the hymn had been played in every Republic Day celebration since 1950.

The hymn is sung at the annual Anzac Day services in Australia and New Zealand as well as some Remembrance Day celebration in Canada, Deccan Herald reported.

‘Abide With Me’ was the only western tune played in 2018. Out of the 27 performances in 2019, 19 tunes were composed by Indian musicians.

These tunes included Indian Star, Paharon ki Rani, Kumaoni Geet, Jai Janam Bhumi, Queen of Satpura and Vijay Bharat. The eight western tunes included Fanfare by Buglers, Sound Barrier, Emblazoned, Twilight and Drummers Call.

Indian classical instruments sitar, santoor and tabla made a debut during the Narendra Modi government’s first Republic Day celebrations in 2015.

(With inputs from Hindustan Times, Deccan Herald)

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