Directory of Christain Songs in Malayalam


Editors: Joseph J. Palackal and Felix Simon

Inroduction

The purpose of this page is to present available information on all categories of Christian songs in Malayalam, the language of Kerala. Kerala is the Cradle of Christianity in south Asia. Because of the unique historical trajectories, diverse forms of Christianity, Eastern and Western, from the earliest to the most modern, have found a space in this unique geopolitical setting. Subsequently, a wide variety of Christian practices, rituals and liturgies are present here. All these have contributed to the creation of a hugely diverse repertoire of Christian songs that contain multiple stories of interface between faith and culture. Therefore, we think it worthwhile to make these songs available to scholars as well as to anyone who is curious about the cultural complexity in India. We begin with songs that are in the public domain. Those songs that have copyright will be made available as soon as the copyright holders permit us to post them on this web page. Each song is assigned a CMSI id number and is listed in alphabetical order, based on their transliteration in the Latin script. Available audio and video clippings are linked to the list.

We begin with songs that are in the public domain. Those songs that have copyrights will be made available as soon as the copyright holders permit us to post them on this web page. Each song is assigned a CMSI id number and is listed in alphabetical order, based on their transliteration in the Latin script. Available audio and video clippings are linked to this list.

An analysis of these songs can be useful in many ways. From a linguistic point of view, thesong texts can be tools to study the history of the evolution of the Malayalam language. For example, early Christian songs show instances of Tamil phonemes;as centuries went by, those Tamil influences seem to have faded. Given below are the opening verses that introduce St. Thomas the Apostle, inMārggam kaḷi(Dance of the Christian Way) of the St. Thomas Christians; the Tamil phonemes are marked in Italics.

Meykkaninthapīliyum/ The body that is covered with peacock feathers
Mayilmēlthōthummēniyum / And the body that looks like a peacock

From the melodic point of view, these songs cover a wide range of musical styles, both indigenous and foreign: South Indian Karnatak classical, North Indian bhajan, Kerala folk, film, Syriac (Aramaic), Western, etc., etc. They show how the Christian faith in India has entered into a multi-layered dialogue with a wide range of cultures.

Christianity in each linguistic region in India has its own stories to tell. In due course, we hope to open similar web pages for Christian songs in other Indian languages. Obviously, this is an ambitious project that can take several decades. Yet, that is not a reason to delay the first, baby steps. We hope interested readers will email us (info@thecmsindia.org) ideas and song texts, and we shall post them with proper acknowledgements. We also request corrections, suggestions, and comments from readers.


Joseph J. Palackal & Felix Simon
For TheCMSIndia.org
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