A hymn for Prez too!

A hymn for Prez too!

‘The “Rashtra Sangeetha” of Basel Mission was revised in 1950, as India attained Independence in 1947’.

There are hymns praising Jesus, Mother Mary, saints and so on. But have you ever heard of a hymn praising (praying for) the President? Well. Basel Mission which has the credit of setting up the first printing press at Balmatta (1841), first ever Kannada newspaper - Mangaloora Samachara (1843), ancient classics under the series Bibliotheca Carnataca (1848-1853) and Kannada-English dictionary among other milestones, has another unique contribution - a hymn for President!

The hymn originally written in 1913 in German language in praise of Emperor was revised in 1950 and the word ‘Emperor’ was replaced by ‘President’ and the same is being sung in churhes since then, especially during Independence Day celebrations and national festivals.

Giving details on the same, Benet G Ammanna of the Archives Department of the Karnataka Theological College at Balmatta in Mangalore, told Deccan Herald that though the Basel Mission published a hymn book with 50 hymns for the first time in 1841, the number of hymns increased to 410 by 1913. “From the year 1913 till 1950, the book was only reprinted from time to time, but never revised or updated,” he said and added that only one hymn titled “Rashtra Sangeetha” (National Song) was revised in 1950, as India attained Independence in 1947.

German origin

The hymn, originally titled “Vater Krone du mit Segen unsern Konig” was translated to Kannada in 1950 by Rev H Risch, a German missionary.

There is an interesting story behind Rev Risch too. Born in 1863, Rev Risch arrived in India in 1888 and started his missionary work at Kailkeri, about 4 kms from Basroor near Udupi. “Rev Risch not only offered services at Kallianpur, Honnavar, Gadag, Betageri and Keti, but also learnt the local language,” informed Ammanna and added that he became the president of Basel Mission Centre in Mangalore in 1908.

In fact, Rev Risch has penned 23 hymns and offered his services as a member of the committee that translated Bible into Kannada.

During the World War-I, Rev Risch was arrested and he spent three months in Ahmedabad prison in 1914 and later returned to his native - Germany.

However, when the missionaries resumed their work, he returned to India and worked in Dharwad. He passed away while offering his services in a school in Dharwad on July 16, 1928.

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