Samayamam Rathathil , V Nagel, Guru Dutt and Swing Low Sweet Chariot

Rev V NagelThere is no other dirge that we hold close to our heart than the classic Samayamam Rathathil (In the Chariot of Time, here I am, on my journey to heaven), which has become a symbol of passing regardless of caste, creed or social boundaries. No ‘Passing ‘ is complete without Samayamam Rathathil, if you are in Kerala, regardless of caste, color creed or social barriers. It is amazing that a hymn written as an exultation of praise and longing to be with the Lord, somehow over time gradually migrated to represent the collective pathos and separation of a whole community. I believe it was Aranazhikaneram(1970) that played an important role in the popularisation of this hymn that somehow got stamped as a dirge with the effective usage of that in the movie. Vayalar seems to have taken the original lines written by Rev V Nagel, tweaked it a bit, and Devrajan Master speeded up the tempo a bit to form Samayamam rathathil, as we know it today. But the song itself, along with the central idea of the chariot that’s taking one on a journey has some interesting cousins in history. I’m sure most of you know it, this is for the ones who don’t.

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