Gandhi’s favourite hymn still in the Republic Day playlist?

Band continues to practice “Abide with me”, Vande Mataram an addition, not replacement

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The Christian Hymn “Abide with me” that was previously believed to have been dropped from the Republic Day playlist may still be on. India Today reports that the band has been practicing the melody during rehearsals.   

The hymn was written by Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte in the nineteenth century and composed by William Henry Monk. Since 1950, this is the only western piece of music played at the Beating Retreat every year during Republic Day celebrations.

Over the years, more traditional Indian compositions have made it into the playlist. But Abide with Me, said to be a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi, has always been the last piece to be played by the military band during the Beating Retreat ceremony. The song is played to remember and honour fallen heroes. 

Earlier there were reports that the song had been dropped amidst rumours that more Indian compositions were being encouraged. The Print had quoted two sources who shed light on the reason behind the supposed omission.

“There is an increased focus on more and more Indian tunes,” said the first source to The Print. “Beating the Retreat has gradually been ‘Indianised’ by the infusion of certain non-military instrumental displays such as sitar as well as Indian tunes. Not everyone in the military is happy about this meddling as it is supposed to be a military ceremony with military bands,” the second source added.

This led to speculation if Christians and Christianity were seen an un-Indian. But retaining the hymn sends out the message that Indian steadfastly remains committed to diversity and respects people of all faiths. 

The Beating Retreat ceremony will be held on January 29.



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