A Christmas Carol for All of Us

“Come,” they told me

Pa rum pum pum pum

“A newborn king to see”

Pa rum pum pum pum

The story of the little drummer boy, as told through the song lyrics by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941, has no scriptural reference.  Nowhere does the Bible mention a person who was prompted by the Magi to come along with them to visit the baby Jesus.  And yet, this sweet song has become a staple in our Christmas carol repertoire.

“Our finest gifts we bring”
Pa rum pum pum pum
“To lay before the king”
Pa rum pum pum pum

Oh, yes.  They were indeed fine gifts.  Kingly gifts.  Gifts that showed respect and honor:  gold, frankincense, myrrh. The gift mattered.  The drummer boy knew this.

“I have no gift to bring”
Pa rum pum pum pum
“That’s fit to give our king”
Pa rum pum pum pum

Oh, who could pass up the chance to see a king?  But could he go empty-handed?  What could compare to the Magis’ gifts of expensive perfume and gold?  Certainly nothing he could afford.

The story pivots. He takes a risk.

Even though the boy was poor, he took the best thing he had—himself and his drum.  And he comes to the baby.

“Little baby”
Pa rum pum pum pum
“I am a poor boy too”
Pa rum pum pum pum

“Shall I play for you”
Pa rum pum pum pum

“On my drum?”        

Pa rum pum pum pum

He arrives at the stable. He does not question that the baby lying in a feeding trough, surrounded by stable animals, is his king.  

Mary looks at him.  He waits for her permission to give his gift.

He gathers all his courage and pulls together all of his skill. He breathes a silent prayer of thanks to God for the gift of music that he has been nurturing and stewarding.  

The first beat falls. 

He plays.

I imagine it is a soft tapping of percussion, perhaps with a rhythm like a heartbeat. The baby listens. Mary listens.  Joseph listens.  The Magi and the animals, too.  

Mary nodded
Pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time
Pa rum pum pum pum

I played my drum for him
Pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for him
Pa rum pum pum pum

The rum-pum-pums float out into the night air, joining together with the star and angels. Perhaps the shepherds are on their way and hear the drum in the distance.

The playing ends.  The drummer boy looks at the Baby Jesus, hoping with all his heart that the infant king liked the gift.

There is a pause.

Then he smiled at me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum

The lyrics are clear in their meaning.  We please Jesus when we bring him the best of ourselves and what we can do.  When we have stewarded the gifts and honored the callings God has given us, and present them to the Lord, we are worshiping, praising, offering our hearts.  Whatever God has given to us, we are asked to use it to show his glory.

The little drummer boy represents all of us.  In contrast to the gold-bearing Magi, the boy brings a different kind of gift: the gift of being the best that he can be, of doing the best that he can. Not for himself, but for God.

We all have a part to play, so to speak, in God’s kingdom. One person’s gift will look different from another’s. 

As we approach Christmas, I pray that we will all consider our gifts for Jesus, that we will bring the very best of ourselves.  They will be gifts fit for a king.

Come. There’s a newborn king to see. Let us honor him.

#godseyeministry #inspire