Christian hymn loved by Gandhi back for Republic Day celebrations
by Nirmala Carvalho

The song was a favourite of the Mahatma Gandhi, and has been always played to mark Republic Day. The cancellation of the tune drew criticism, not only from Christians.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – The traditional Christian hymn ‘Abide with me‘ is back on the list of tunes for this year’s Beating Retreat ceremony, which marks the end of India’s Republic Day, a Defence Ministry official confirmed yesterday. “Yes, the tune will be played this year,” he said.

Two weeks ago, the Defence Ministry’s decision to drop the tune drew sharp criticism from various quarters, and not only from Christians.

The hymn is considered a favourite of the Mahatma Gandhi, and has been played at the annual ceremony every year since 1950.

Beating Retreat is performed every year on the evening of January 29 at Vijay Chowk in the national capital, marking the end of Republic Day celebrations.

Some 30-35 tunes are played at the ceremony. This year, the Defence Ministry thought of dropping the tune as part of an “annual review to introduce new tunes”.

The hymn was written in the 19th century by Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte and composed by William Henry Monk.