Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christmas Carol Chronicles: The Little Drummer Boy

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The carol "The Little Drummer Boy" is believed to have been written by Katherine Kennecott Davis an American composer and teacher who studied folk music.

According to blogger and historical fiction writer, Heidi Chiavaroli, “Many of the folktales [Davis] learned of revolved around gifts given to the baby Jesus by the poor.

With America in economic turmoil during the Great Depression, these stories of seemingly unworthy presents given from the heart meant more than they ever had before. Parents made presents for their children out of leftover pieces of twine, wood, and ribbon. Millions couldn't even afford a Christmas card, so gifts from the heart were all they could offer to family and friends.”

In 1941, Davis penned a heartfelt song about a poor child coming to witness the birth of the Savior and entitled it “Carol of the Drum”. Davis intended the drum rhythm for rehearsals only, to help her chorus harmonize. However, these “temporary” notes were so well-liked they became permanent.

In 1955 “Carol of the Drum” was performed by the Trapp Family Singers, the family upon whose story the “Sound of Music” is based. Three years later, Harry Simeone altered the song a bit and re-named it “The Little Drummer Boy”. In 1958, when The Harry Simeone Chorale released it as a record, the carol became an internationally loved hit and gained Simeone distinction as a gifted arranger, conductor, and composer.

“Little Drummer Boy” has been recorded many times since by a diverse variety of individuals and groups from Bing Crosby to Jimmy Hendrix, from Mannheim Steamroller to Bad Religion, and many, many others.

Who can resist the heart-strumming rhythm and the soul-touching words of this twentieth century carol? So many of us relate to the plight expressed by the little drummer boy—“I have no gift to bring.” After all, what could we offer the King of Kings and Lord of Lords?

Like the drummer boy, all we can offer Jesus is ourselves—whether we are a small boy with a drum, an orator with a platform, an accountant with a calculator, or a mother with five children. Jesus can use us and our gifts to share His Good News with others.

If a little boy’s pa rum pum pum pum can touch the hearts of millions and spread the story of our Savior’s birth, then how far might our efforts reach? As long as what we do is to honor Him, there’s no limit to what God can accomplish through us.

Come! How can you use the “drum” God has gifted you with to honor Him?

Merry Christmas!

©2013 Pamela D. Williams


  1. It's one of my mom's favorite Christmas songs. Hope you enjoy a Merry Christmas Pam.

    1. Little Drummer Boy seems to be a favorite of many people, Wanda. I am having such fun finding the stories behind the carols. Merry Christmas!

  2. What an interesting *back story* to this hymn! I so enjoyed reading it.

    I can use the *drum* that the Lord has given me by faithfully listening to where He wants me to "pa rum pum pum pum" - and then obeying Him!!

    Wishing you and yours a very Merry CHRISTmas, Pam!


    1. I think our drumstick is a pen, Sharon! LOL!

  3. That's one of my favorites! To think of our Father smiling at us for using the gifts He gave us sings to my soul...

    1. I am sure He is smiling at your posts, Floyd. They always draw the reader to Jesus.