The Defence Ministry has dropped Abide with Me, a traditional Christian hymn that is believed to have been a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi, from the list of tunes for this year’s Beating the Retreat ceremony. The tune had been played at the annual ceremony every year since 1950.
“The tune has been dropped this year,” a defence ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed on Tuesday. “There is a review of tunes every year. There is an effort to introduce new tunes and an emphasis to add more Indian tunes,” the official added.
The Vande Mataram song was also a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi, the official said, adding that it could find a place this year. “There are few other new tunes as well including some Indian ones this time,” he added.
There are about 30-35 tunes played at the ceremony another defence official said, stating that the sequence of these tunes was reviewed every time, with new ones being added.
A third unnamed official said there had been an increased emphasis in the last few years on replacing western tunes with Indian tunes as also the addition of traditional Indian instruments.
Abide with Me was written in the 19th century by Scottish poet Henry Francis Lyte and composed by William Henry Monk.
Beating The Retreat is performed every year on the evening of January 29 at Vijay Chowk in the national capital and marks the end of the Republic Day celebrations.