Hymn 'Abide With Me' dropped from list of Beating Retreat tunes, may be replaced with Vande Mataram, say reports

FP Staff

The defence ministry has dropped the traditional Christian hymn Abide With Me from the list of tunes to be played during the Beating Retreat ceremony, The Hindu reported.

The tune, which has been played at the annual ceremony at Delhi's Vijay Chowk since 1950, has been dropped from the list of 30 to 35 tunes in an effort to emphasise on "more Indian tunes", officials told The Print.

Abide With Me usually marks the end of the ceremony, after which the bands play Sare Jahan Se Acha. This year, the ceremony may end with Vande Mataram, according to Hindustan Times.

Abide with Me, written in the 19th Century by Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte and composed by William Henry Monk, was believed to be a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi's. In 2018, the hymn was the only western tune that was played by the military band whereas last year as well as in 2017, it was one of the several western pieces that was played during the ceremony held on 29 January.

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, The Print reported.

Indian classical instruments sitar, santoor and tabla were played for the first time at a Republic Day parade in 2015, when Narendra Modi led the day's celebrations for the first time since assuming office as the prime minister.

A centuries-old tradition, Beating Retreat marked the end of the day's fighting during battle and soldiers returning to their camps in the evening. Bands from the three defence services and the Central Armed Police Forces perform at Vijay Chowk to mark the end of annual Republic Day celebrations. Last year, 18 military bands, 15 pipe and drum bands from regimental centres and battalions had participated in the ceremony.

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