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My favourite Christmas song

Tom Wall Published on 01 December 2014

OK, I’ll admit it … I’ve been listening to Christmas songs online since the weekend after Thanksgiving. What can I say? I’m a huge fan of Christmas music and all of the memories that come with it.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a lot of favourite Christmas songs. But lately the one that’s really stood out for me is “The Little Drummer Boy.”

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When I was younger, I liked it just because of all the “Rum pum pum pums.” But the reason I like this song now is because of the story it tells. Originally called “Carol of the Drum,” this Christmas classic was written back in 1941 by U.S. composer Katherine Kennicott Davis.

I’m not sure what inspired her to write the song and its lyrics back then, but the more I listen to it today, the more I can picture the young drummer boy in the middle of the manger scene.

Told from the perspective of the young drummer boy, in the first verse, the boy tells us about a trip he was invited to take.

Come, they told me
Our newborn King to see
Our finest gifts we bring
To lay before the King
So to honour Him
When we come

The first verse is pretty straightforward. The young drummer tells us about his invitation to see the newborn King. Although he doesn’t exactly say who invited him, we have the advantage of already knowing the story … he’s almost certainly referring to the three wise men.

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In this verse, he also elaborates about the purpose of their trip. It turns out that the magi didn’t merely invite the young drummer to go and see the newborn King. The other reason they were going on the trip was to honour the newborn King by giving him valuable gifts.

So here’s a young drummer boy, accepting the invitation to accompany three distinguished kings on a journey to bring their finest gifts to a newborn King.

In the second verse, we fast- forward to the manger scene. In this verse we hear what the little drummer boy said to the newborn King.

Little Baby
I am a poor boy too
I have no gift to bring
That’s fit to give our King
Shall I play for You
On my drum?

Spoken with the innocence that only a young child possesses, the little drummer boy says what’s on his mind. Although the boy knows that he and the three magi are currently in the presence of the Lord, he can’t help but see a poor family whose only option was to take shelter in a barn for the night.

He relates to them as someone who has few material possessions, and speaks tenderly … “Little Baby, I am a poor boy too.”

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Compared to the magi’s three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, the young drummer quickly realizes he’s out of his league. He admits to the baby Jesus that he doesn’t have a valuable gift.

But with the hopeful optimism of a child, he doesn’t give up. He has a talent to share. And like so many young kids who are learning to play a musical instrument, his voice is full of enthusiasm and hope as he asks if he should play something on his drum.

The third verse picks up where the second verse left off. Since the baby Jesus couldn’t reply to the young boy, Mary answers for him with a gentle, motherly nod. And so the little drummer boy shared his musical gift.

Mary nodded
The ox and lamb kept time
I played my drum for Him
I played my best for Him
Then He smiled at me
Me and my drum

This is possibly the young drummer’s favourite part of his story. The little drummer boy recounts that he played his drum for the Lord, and that even the animals helped him keep the beat. In the excited, convincing voice of a young boy, he proudly tells us that he got to play his drum for the newborn King.

But he says that he didn’t just play for the Lord, he played his best for the Lord. And it was in that moment that the little drummer boy learned what pleased the newborn King. Upon seeing the humble drummer boy sharing his sincere, simple gift, the baby Jesus smiled at him.

And just as simply as the little drummer boy’s story began, his story ends. And so does ours.

You see, we’re all just like that poor little drummer boy on a journey to see the Lord. And on that day when we finally arrive to see Him, none of our “finest” material gifts we present to Him will make Him smile like the simple gifts and talents we share with Him and each other.  PD

 —Wall is a dairy coach with Dairy Interactive, LLC.

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