The Real Message of “The Little Drummer Boy”

The Real Message of “The Little Drummer Boy”


Even before I was baptized, I was moved by the Christmas song, “The Little Drummer Boy.” It gave me shivers, and if I tried to sing along, my voice would break over the lyrics “I have no gift to bring…”

Just last week when my spiritual friends and I were sharing and discussing songs through which God speaks to us, all of a sudden a light bulb went on.

The plot of the song is simple: Drummer boy comes to the manger to see the “newborn king.” He has no gift on the level of frankincense and gold, so he feels inadequate. He offers to drum. Mary nods. He drums his very best. Baby Jesus smiles.

I identified with the drummer boy, even though I was a girl and couldn’t drum. I wasn’t really poor, but I felt poor in gifts to give God. I felt like an impostor, not worthy to be standing in God’s presence. Hence, those lyrics choked me up.

Until last week, I interpreted the song to mean that whether we know it or not, we all have something to give God. We have a talent, and God wants us to use it, just like in Luke 19. So, when the poor, little, boy (all aspects to make him insignificant) picks up his sticks and drums like mad, Jesus smiles. He is using his talent and offering it to God. Well and good.

But here’s the new Aha! I turned my mind for a second to the music of the song, letting the lyrics rest for a moment. What is the insistent drum beat saying? It provides a cadence throughout the song, not just when the boy drums.

My mind was opened to another facet of meaning. The drumbeat is the heartbeat. All the boy needs to do is live, be, abide in the presence of the Lord, and the Lord will smile.

Too many of us still think we have to DO something to earn God’s love. We think God needs us to give him gifts. We think he craves sacrifice, when he tells us clearly that he does not. He wants us to be who he made us to be and to enjoy our gifts—not to please him but to function in harmony with our design. When we are “firing on our wiring,” Jesus smiles.

So, what were you designed to be?

group of people playing drums during daytime

Photo by Pixabay on

On Constable’s “Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s grounds”

On Constable’s “Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop’s Grounds” (Challenge #20)
by Pamella Bowen

O, dreamy scene of spire kissed by sun
And framed by ancient trees in foreground green
With water meadows, cows and shining brook,
Why do my heartstrings leap at sight of you?

When Constable put brush to canvas then
To paint your quintessential English view
He couldn’t know two centuries would pass
And still you’d find a lover here in me.

An Anglophile was I at seventeen
When first I saw your subject for myself,
Walking from the train to take a tour
Of nave and transepts, choir, cloisters, spire.

Is it your Englishness that so appeals
Or mem’ry of that far-off cherished joy—
My first time seeing such a holy sight,
In love with England’s green and pleasant land?

Or maybe it’s the fact that on those shores
My heart first felt the stirring touch of God,
When tears welled up in me and hotly fell,
Responding to an English preacher’s words.

I praise the Lord who blessed the artist’s hand
To capture with a brush the sacred scene
And masons’ hands six hundred years before
That fit the sandstone blocks with skill and grace.

What gift is Art the Holy spirit sends
To keep the Good News moving through the years,
From stone to paint to poem in my hand,
The Word has lived and lives and will live still.

© 2018

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