MoD drops Christian hymn liked by Gandhiji

MoD drops Christian hymn liked by Gandhiji

The hymn written by the Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte in the nineteenth century and composed by William Henry Monk was played in every Republic Day celebration since 1950 because it was considered a favourite of Mahatma, who heard it the first time when he visited the kingdom of Mysore. (Credit: DH)

As the country celebrates the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Defence Ministry has decided to drop a traditional Christian hymn Abide with Me – believed to be a favourite of Father of the Nation - from Beating the Retreat ceremony that culminates the Republic Day events.

“Its a routine change. We are including new tunes,” a Defence Ministry official told DH when asked about the reason behind such a change.

The hymn written by the Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte in the nineteenth century and composed by William Henry Monk was played in every Republic Day celebration since 1950 because it was considered a favourite of Mahatma, who heard it the first time when he visited the kingdom of Mysore.

According to a historical account, the Mysore Palace Band, which played it for Gandhiji was invited to perform in the 1950 Republic Day parade and since then it was an integral part of the show.

In 2018 Abide With Me 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 enlivened the Vijay Chowk on January 29 afternoon.

There are unconfirmed reports that Vande Mataram could replace Abide With Me this year, though there are no official words. This will be Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's first year at the helm of affairs for the entire Republic Day ceremony.

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

Some of the attractions of the 2020 Republic Day parade would be the Indian Air Force's latest acquisition Apache and Chinook helicopters that will fly over the majestic Rajpath. Three Chinooks in the “vic” formation and five Apache in “arrowhead” formation will set the stage for the Su-30, Jaguar and MiG-29 fighter jets to pierce the Delhi sky.

As many as 16 fighters, 10 transport aircraft and 19 helicopters will participate in the January 26 flypast. In their tableau, the IAF and Navy would also showcase some of their latest weapons like Rafale fighter jets and submarine INS Kalvari respectively.

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