Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with strings and pipe! Psalm 150:4
“The Little Drummer Boy,” originally known as “Carol of the Drum,” is a song written by American classical music composer and teacher Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. The Trapp Family Singers first recorded the song in 1951; many other recordings and performances followed. A twelfth-century French legend is said to have been the inspiration for the song. The lyrics tell of a poor boy who was invited by the Maji to come see the Baby Jesus in His manger. The boy had no gift for the Infant King, but he played his little drum. The boy says, “I played my best for Him,” and “He smiled at me.”
This song has long had a special meaning for me, since I play trap set drums in our church’s contemporary band. During Advent, we play seasonal traditional and contemporary songs in the worship services. Christmas Eve is filled with special music from all our music groups—choir, bells, youth, solos, instrumentalists, as well as our band. With my husband on bass guitar, and others playing keyboards, rhythm guitar, congas, horns, and several of us singing, it is an honor and a delight to lead worship on such a sacred night. I am encouraged by the words of the psalmist, telling of those ancient people of God using all kinds of musical instruments in worship. I cannot imagine a church service, baptism, wedding or funeral without instrumental and vocal offerings, and I am humbled to be a part of our worship music.
The story of The Little Drummer Boy is fanciful; it is highly unlikely that a real boy possessing a drum was around Bethlehem the night of our Lord’s birth. But the point of the tale is that each of us has unique “gifts” to offer in service to our King. Galatians 5:22 names but a few of these special gifts: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness. Believers all over this diverse world can fill in the blanks with others: hospitality, discernment, lifting others up, fighting oppression. Volunteer opportunities abound in healthcare, childcare, ending hunger, teaching, ecology, protecting wildlife. Can you bring your unique gift to the Christ Child this Christmas? Opportunities are as varied as the human imagination.
Jesus, stir us to bring our gifts to You this Christmas. Amen