Water Resources Minister P. J. Joseph has urged the Church to get verses of Arnos Padre's Puthen Pana set to new tunes.
He was addressing a public meeting organised by the Arnos Padre Academy here on Sunday to observe the 280th death anniversary of German Jesuit priest, Sanskrit poet, grammarian, lexicographer and philologist Arnos Padre (Johann Ernst Hanxleden).
“The Church and the Arnos Padre Academy should take the initiative to get the verses set to tune by major composers such as Ilaiyaraja and bring out the songs in CDs. They should reach Christian homes.
Puthen Pana was once recited with fervour in Christian homes.
The practice should be revived. Copies of Padre's epic literary work should be printed and distributed,” he said.
He said that contemporary Christian devotional hymns lacked depth and feeling. “The lyrics are substantial, but the tunes are not. Of course, a few good Christian hymns are being created. But the majority of them leave much to be desired. In contrast, most of the contemporary Hindu devotional hymns are of a high quality. They instil peace and devotion. The Church should spend money on creating better devotional hymns,” he added.
The Minister felicitated Chavittunatakam exponent Thampi Payyapalli. Archbishop of Varapuzha Francis Kallarackal presided.
Kerala State Planning Board member C. P. John, Cherian Kunianthodath, Provincial Counsellor for Education and Mass Media, CMI provincial, Cherian Kuniyanthodathu, Congregation of Carmelities of Mary Immaculate (CMI), and A. Adappur, priest and writer, also spoke on the occasion.
Earlier, a seminar on Arnos Padre said that he blended eastern and western elements in his works.
“He wrote the first Malayalam elegy in Greek style. He was more of a cultural figure than a Christian missionary. He drew inspiration from Ezhuthachan and Poonthaanam. The style of writing in Puthen Pana is reminiscent of that in Jnanappana,” the seminar said. Puthen Pana conveyed the essence of Bible with utmost simplicity to Malayali Christians in a literary form that was familiar to them.
The seminar said that Padre's verses promoted among Malayali Christians love for Virgin Mary. His works have inspired the creation of many paintings in churches.
The speakers included N. Sam, visiting professor, Sree Sankara University of Sanskrit, T. L. Jose, former professor, St. Thomas College, Thrissur, and C. J. George, reader, CKG Memorial Government College, Perambra.