Katherine Kennicott Davis is credited for writing this popular Christmas carol in 1941. She had a long history of musical talent, private education in her youth and then college. She had a long musical career with over 600 compositions to her credit. Truthfully, until I decided to write this piece, I had never heard of this talented woman.
The Little Drummer Boy is my favorite Christmas song and has been since I was a child. I did not understand why I liked it as a child or how it had the power to touch my heart each time I heard it. Likewise, I did not know how to articulate why this song was so very meaningful to me but now I can. I absolutely love this song because it speaks directly to my soul.
For those of you not familiar with the tune, it tells the story of a young boy who wanted to give something to the newborn Christ child but he knew that he owned nothing that would be worthy of the child. All he possessed was a crude drum and his talent to bring music into the world. Mary encouraged the child to play his song as a gift to the child. The young boy was rewarded by a smile from the Christ child letting him know that his gift was pleasing to the Lord. It was such a humble gift but it was all the child had to give but it was the perfect gift.
Growing up, my sisters and I were always taught that joy was born of giving instead of receiving. If you have ever given a gift to another and was rewarded by a smile or even a tear then you know the true value of giving to another. We were poor and we needed much but Christmas was always a time where we found great excitement and joy from making or baking things to give to family, friends, and neighbors. We even bought a store Santa Clause a package of cotton hankies one year because we felt bad that kids always asked him for gifts but no one ever gave him a gift. I do not know how my mother scraped the money up to buy this last minute gift but I still remember the surprised look on “Santa’s” face. The store was closing and when he saw us running up to him he had a very weary expression but smiled nonetheless. We were all smiles as we handed him the hastily purchased and wrapped package. He was in shock as he just stared at it for a moment then opened it. I remember he did not say much at all. I think it was a weakly uttered, “thank you” to each of us. I remember he and my mother looked at one another then the loud speaker announced the store was closing so our mother ushered us out as we waved good-bye to the tired Santa. I often wonder what that man thought about those three little girls who had given him a gift instead of asking for a long list of their own. I’d like to think that it touched his heart and gave him pause as to the true meaning of Christmas and not the normal hectic atmosphere surrounding the holiday.
Even today, I love giving others gifts just because I want to make someone happy. I am actually uncomfortable getting gifts and would much rather give than receive. When I listen to the song, The little drummer boy, it reminds me that we come before the Lord devoid of worth except for that which he has given us. You see, the perfect gift for the Christ child was the gift the Lord had already given to the drummer boy. God wove the ability to play the drum into the child as he was creating him. It was through the maturation of this God given talent that the child was able to offer a piece of himself to the Christ child. There is nothing we have or that we can buy that would be worthy of the Christ child but each of us has been given a talent or gift and through the recognition, maturation, and use of this gift we offer praise to the one who wove it into our being. Regardless of our societal or economic standing, the only gift our Lord wants from us is the one he first gave us. I try to honor God with my writings and I pray that they are pleasing to one who gave them to me.
This is the reason that this song means so much to me because all we need do to praise our Lord is to offer everything we are to him. We show him our love through whatever gift or talent he has woven into our very being. The drummer boy gave him music and I offer my words. What do you have to give to our Savior?
The following is an excerpt from one of my favorite childhood Christmas specials, The Little Drummer Boy.
The Little Drummer Boy Lyrics
“The Little Drummer Boy” was written by Onorati, Henry / Simeone, Harry / Davis, Katherine K.
Come, they told me, pa rum pa pum pum
A newborn king to see, pa rum pa pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pa pum pum
To lay before the king, pa rum pa pum pum
Rum a pum pum, rum pa pum pum
So to honor him, pa rum pa pum pum
When we come
Little baby, pa rum pa pum pum
I am a poor boy, too, pa rum pa pum pum
I have no gifts to bring, pa rum pa pum pum
That’s fit to give a king, pa rum pa pum pum
Rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum
Shall I play for you, pa rum pa pum pum
On my drum
Mary nodded, pa rum pa pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pa pum pum
I played my drum for him, pa rum pa pum pum
I played my best for him, pa rum pa pum pum
Rum pa pum pum, rum pa pum pum
Then he smiled at me, pa rum pa pum pum
Me and my drum