I love Christmas music. It is a highlight of the year for me. I still enjoy putting together a Christmas Playlist. These songs of the season help me embrace the wonderful story and precious gift of Christ’s birth. One classic that has made all my playlists is The Little Drummer Boy.
Interestingly the song we know now as The Little Drummer Boy was initially titled Carol of the Drums because of the repeated line “pa rum pum pum pum,” which imitates the sound of a drum. No one knows for sure who wrote the song, but as best as we can surmise, Katherine K. Davis wrote the song in 1941. However, others have been credited with having written the song. What is known for certain is that there have been hundreds of recordings of the song over the years, with some appearing on the Billboard’s Hot 100. Pentatonix version even hit number one.
My earliest memory of the song is from the stop-motion animation made for TV Christmas classic The Little Drummer Boy. I am not old enough to have seen it debuted in 1968, but have enjoyed it many times over the years.
The song is about the birth of Jesus Christ and the gifts presented to the newborn king on this momentous day. The part of the song that has always touched me is, “I have no gift to bring…that’s fit to bring our king.” The boy only had a drum, and with his modest gift, he offered what he had and “played his best for Him,” and we are told the Christ child “smiled at him.”
What I didn’t appreciate for years before becoming a parent is how unlikely it is that Jesus’ mom, Mary, would have desired for a drum to be played at Christ’s birth. You know, the never wake a baby, and all of that stuff. Still, my heart is stirred by the boy’s modest gift, especially when compared to the extravagant gifts offered by the Magi. The drummer boy offers what he has and does so with all his heart.
Truth be told, I have never seen myself as extremely gifted. I am not trying to belittle myself. It’s just that I have friends who speak, play instruments, sing. They are like the one-man-band playing all the instruments on their own. I am not envious of any of them but appreciate the breadth of what they bring to the Lord’s kingdom table. I, however, have a few gifts. We all have at least one gift given to us by God for service in His name (see: Rom 1:11, 1 Cor 12:7-11, Rom 12:3-8, & 1 Peter 4:10). It doesn’t matter how many gifts we have or what those gifts happen to be. What really makes the difference is that we use them for His glory and the benefit of others.
The founder of the Salvation Army, William Booth, is quoted to have said, “God has had better men than me, but He has had all of me.” I can’t begin to say that God has always had “all of me,” but I genuinely desire for this to be true in my life. When I think of all God has done for me, how can I want anything else. Paul states it this way in Romans 12:1: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” Paul is referring back to all he has written in Romans 1-11 about the “mercies of God.” As followers of Christ, we are to give ourselves entirely to God because of His saving grace. What do you give the God who has everything? We give the one thing we have the actual power to give, ourselves.
With the gifts I have, I attempt to “play my best for Him.” You know, “pa rum pum pum pum.” My playing is not always perfect, but I believe as I play, God smiles at me. This is true for each and every one of us. He is so worthy of everything we have to offer. When we offer it up to Him, we are blessed, and others benefit from it. Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)!