Friday, January 11, 2008

Samayamam radhathil (On the chariot of time)

If one tries to find out which is the Christian song in Malayalam that the maximum number of people know, the answer is likely to be 'Samayamam radhathil njan swarga yathra cheyyunnu' (I am traveling towards haven on the chariot of time). However, one is also likely to find that people sing it very rarely and that most people are rather uncomfortable with this song.

'Samayamam radhathil' is an absolutely beautiful song that was written by the missionary V. Nagel. But people are uncomfortable with this song as this songs is sung during all funerals. Thus, people associate this song with death. However if we can live with our discomfort for a moment and look at the song more carefully, we will find that this song is more about life than it is about death. Our journey towards haven begins much before we die. Actually, the key part (and possibly the part that we can influence the most) of the journey takes place while we are alive. So this song is mostly about our walk with God while we are very much alive. Yes, this song does speak about death. But it is to make us aware that we have only a finite time on earth and hence to encourage us to live/experience life fully. So, the next time we come across (or seek out !) this song, let us listen to it/read it with an open mind and hope that it would enable us to be more effective in our walk with God.


kurian said...

'Samayamam radhathil' is an absolutely beautiful song that was written by the missionary V. Nagel.

its totaly wrong ... its written by vayalar rama varma .. detiails

Song: Samayamam Radhathil
Film: Ara Nazhika Neram (1970)
Music: G Devarajan
Lyrics: Vayalar
Singers: P Leela,P Madhuri

Thywillbedone said...

Hello Kurian

Thanks for visiting this blog and for the comment.

It is true that music director Devarajan included the song "Samayamam radhathil" in the 1970 movie "Ara Nazhika Neram". However, this song was in existence much before that – even before Valayar Ramavarma was born (in 1928). I am not sure if Vayalar made any modification to the original lyrics of the song written by Nagel (Nagel died in 1921). Since all this happened (the writing of the song and the release of the movie) happened before either of us was born, may be you can ask any of your elderly relatives in Kerala about this. Another option is to refer to the traditional ‘pattu pustakam’ used in any of the mainstream Malayalam churches. If you do this, you are likely to find this song there. I think both of us will agree that the Christian church in Kerala hasn’t yet reached a level of ‘progress’ where they will incorporate a film song into the traditional ‘pattu pustakam’ used for regular church worship.

If you want to more about Nagel and his Malayalam Christian Songs, please take a look at the pdf file found in the following link.

Please pay special attention to page 17 - the last paragraph under Flash card 32 - which says “The song ‘Samayamam Radhathil’ (On the Chariot of Time) was originally written by Nagel in Malayalam and has won worldwide acclaim. Not only has this song been translated into 17 languages but it became so popular that a secular music director incorporated it into a film”

If you insist on evidence based on listing of songs on the web (though you can find contradicting information if you follow this option, depending on which website you look at), please take a look at

Please refer to number 193 in the list - which says – {193) samayamaam radhathil – p. leela, p. madhuri - aranazhikaneram-1970/fr. nagel/g. devarajan}

Hope this clarifies.

Thanks once again for visiting the blog.

Julie said...

I was researching this song, and I found your blog.

Volbrecht Nagel was my great-grandfather. :) ... I would love to find an MP3 version of this song. I found the translation into English (the only language I speak *lol*), and now, thanks to you, I know what the title means. :)

Thanks again!
Julie Johnson

Thywillbedone said...

Hello Julie,

Thank you very much - for reading my post, linking to it on your blog and for your comment. I am very glad to know that my little blog post (on this amazing song) was of some use to the granddaughter of the great missionary who wrote the song. God acts in amazing ways!!!

Sabu said...

Aranaazhikaneram [1970]

Click on the Picture Above (Provided by itzme.firu) to Enlarge it

Music Director(s) G Devarajan
Lyricist(s) Vayalar
Director KS Sethumadhavan
Banner Manjilas
Producer MO Joseph
Actors Sathyan, Premnazeer, Kottarakkara Sridharan Nair, Ummer K.P., Adoor Bhasi, Sankaradi, Bahadoor, Muthukulam Raghavan Pillai, Meena, Ambika, Sheela, Ragini, Suseela
Story Parappuram
Dialogs Parappuram
Screen Play KS Sethumadhavan
Cinematography Melli Irani
Editor MS Mani
Art Direction Mani R B S
Background Music
MSI DB Edit MSI Movie DB
Number of Songs 5
Songs Information for Aranaazhikaneram
Song Audio Video Karaoke Singers Musician Lyricist Raga Genre
Samayamaam Radhathil P Leela,P Madhuri G Devarajan Fr Nagel
Anupame Azhake KJ Yesudas G Devarajan Vayalar Sudha Saveri
Swarangale Sapthaswarangale P Leela G Devarajan Vayalar Lathaangi
Chippi Chippi CO Anto,Latha Raju G Devarajan Vayalar
Daivaputhranu P Susheela G Devarajan Vayalar Madhyamavathi

Thywillbedone said...

Thanks Sabu for providing the reference for the song.

avij said...

Undoubtedly, this is a very beautiful song. I had read somewhere that it was written by the Christian missionary Nagel during his journey from Kunnamkulam (in Thrisur district) to Kannur by a bullock cart. The original lyrics contained the words 'en swadesham kanmathinnai bhaddappettitodunnu'. This was changed by Vayalar to 'en swadesham kanmathinnai njan thaniye pokunnu'.

C.K.Samuel said...

Songs are living memories of our hearts emotions. My heart overflows with joy when I praise the providence of my loving Father.

Roshan George V said...

Yes, the song is written by Missioanry Nagel and it was later included in the movie 'Ara nazhika neram' .... It's really interesting to note that a foreigner wrote this beautiful song, which is very meaningful, and that too in Malayalam.

The song reminds you of our short life span here, and reminds us to live well.

It is interesting to note that grand daughter of Missionary Nagel found this blog, and she was really searching for this song.

And thank you author for writing this post.

മറ്റൊരു കാര്യം എന്താണെന്നു വച്ചാല്‍ കഴിഞ്ഞ ഏതാനം ദിവസങ്ങളായി ഈ ഗാനം എന്റെ നാവില്‍ നിന്ന് തത്തിക്കളിക്കുന്നു. ഇപ്പോഴും ഈ ഗാനവും 'അക്കരെക്കു യാത്ര ചെയ്യും സീയോന്‍ സഞ്ചാരിയും' 'സീയോന്‍ സഞ്ചാരി ഞാന്‍ യേശുവില്‍' എന്നീ ഗാനങ്ങളും ഞാന്‍ പാടിക്കൊണ്ടിരിക്കുന്നു...

Anonymous said...

One lazy Saturday evening, when I paid more attention to the lyrics of the song,I decided to know more about the writer which brought me to this blog... and I am really thankful for the information shared by 'Thy will be done' here on the German missionary Volbrecht Nagel and his great works.

Anish v oommen said...



Thywillbedone said...

Avij: Thanks for specifying the exact modification made by Vayalar to the original lyrics by V. Nagel.

Anish: Thanks for giving the reference of the song in KRISTHEEYA KEERTHANAM

Roshen & Anonymous: Thanks for your comments

Pramod said...

for original lyrics, you can refer this site,

and for the lyrics by vayalar, you can hear this song,

Both are entirly different, Vayalar copied some lyrics and modified in his way.

jogiejacob said...

worth spending time in this blog and comments. I place on record my appreciation for your research and clarifications to the comments.

Thanks for this information which I too was specifically looking for.

May God bless you.

Jogie George Jacob

Dr Elizabeth Menon said...

"Samayamam Rathathil njaan Swarggayaathra cheyyunnu...En swadesham kaanmathinnaay Njaan thaniye pokunnu..."! This beautiful song was written in Malayalam by the German Missionary, Rev.Fr. Volbrecht Nagel in 1897, 117 years ago, and he also composed the music based on a folk song 'Oh My Darling Clementine...'! We should be grateful to Rev.Fr. Nagel for this classic hymn that has the brilliant words and music, which has become part of our culture at funerals, so much so that it is never sung at any other time, though it's on everyone's lips, as it reminds one of a funeral! Fr. Nagel wrote and tuned this song so that people could listen to the beautiful words and feel closer to God, but since the time it was sung during Sathyan's funeral in June 1971, it became the most popular song at funerals, though it was not meant to be a 'Funeral Song"! Vayalar modified the words of Fr. Nagel to the music of Devarajan for the film 'Aranaazhika Neram' in 1970 -- but the credit must go to the great Missionary, Rev.Fr. Volbrecht Nagel! He learned to read and write Malayalam and has also written and composed many hymns in Malayalam, which are still sung in many churches in Kerala: 'Snehathin Idayanam Yesuway', 'Jayam jayam kollum naam', 'Ente jeevanaam Yesuve', 'Daivathinte Eka puthran', etc! I just felt that the great Missionary, Rev.Fr. Volbrecht Nagel should get the credit for this Masterpiece, and not the ones who modified it, even if they they are great for their own work, whom I admire greatly! I believe that the credits should be given to the rightful owners, and no disrespect to anyone else!

Anonymous said...

Nice blog....thanks for all the information you provided about this song.


Jeby Mathew

Ash said...

extremely informative. Do you know who wrote "Akkarakku yatra cheyyum seeyon sanchari" (

Biju Mathew said...

Does anybody have the English version of this song?
It would be of great help if it is shared.....

I fully agree with your post as to why people should tag it as a funeral song.
I'm sharing your post with your permission with the link of this blog.

Unknown said...

In short vayalar made modifications to the lyrics and devarajan made slight changes to the tune so as to increase more feel

samson c sabu said...

U know who wrote... lokamam gambheera varudhyil