Hyderabad: The Christian community is upset at the recent decision of the defence ministry to delete the hymn ‘Abide With Me’ from the playing list of the Beating Retreat ceremony that marks the end of the Republic Day celebrations.
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 in Delhi to mark the end of the annual Republic Day celebrations and ‘Abide with Me’ has been part of their repertoire since 1950. It has been dropped from the list of 30-35 tunes played in order to accommodate more ‘Indian’ tunes, apparently. After ‘Abide with Me’, the bands play ‘Sare Jahan Se Acha’. This year, the ceremony may end with ‘Vande Mataram’.
‘Abide With Me’ is one of the best known and most frequently played hymns in church services all over India, including churches in the twin cities. Written in the 19th century by Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte, with music by William Henry Monk, this was a favourite hymn of Mahatma Gandhi.
In 2018, the hymn was the only western tune that was played by the military bands whereas last year as well as in 2017, it was one of several western pieces played during the ceremony held annually on January 29....