What We're Actually Singing: The Little Drummer Boy

(My current situation!)

Alright, I’ll be the first to admit that this one is NOT my favorite Christmas song. I’m pretty sure I already disclosed that in last week’s post. But. Once I get over the actual melody and listen to the Pentatonix version, even I can admit that there’s a lot of really beautiful depth and meaning in these super simple lyrics. (Dropping the Pentatonix version here for ya—you’re welcome)


Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum
A new born king to see
Pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the king
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum
So to honor him
Pa rum pum pum pum
When we come
Pum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum pa rum
Little baby
Pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too
Pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring
Pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give our king
Pa rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum
Shall I play for you
Pa rum pum pum pum
Pa rum pum pum
Pum pum pum pum
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,
Rum pum pum pum,
Rum pum pum pum
Then he smiled at me
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum
Come they told me
Pa rum pum pum pum
A new born king to see
Pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum
Me and my drum
Me and my drum
Me and my drum
Rum pum pum pum

I suppose it’s all of those pa rum pum pum pums that I could never get past. They’re more than a little distracting and super awkward to sing collectively at Christmas Eve service. But when I finally forced myself to listen to the very few lines in between the rum pum pums, it struck my heart and it was easy to see how it’s landed in the list of beloved Christmas classics.

I went ahead and highlighted the actual lyrics. They’re so few and so simple and yet they say so much about what Christmas is—what the Gospel is.

An invitation to come and see this King that everyone has been talking about and waiting for. The invitation is for everyone—even this little boy. The instruction is to bring the best gifts that they have to honor Him and express their adoration. The little boy is worried because he doesn’t really have anything to give. He is also poor—as he sees the baby is from the way that He’s born. But he brings the one thing that he has, his little drum and his song. And he offers it to the King as his best—his everything. And the baby King smiles while the little boy proudly plays his drum.

Wow.

The simplicity of this is actually quite striking.

We too are invited into the presence of this King. EVERYONE—little ones and poor ones and wealthy ones and average ones (as we see later with the wise men and the shepherds and even later with the Gentiles.) We are instructed to come from wherever we are and to bring the best gifts that we have to lay down before this King and to honor Him.

So we come. And we realize very quickly that we are unprepared, that we actually have nothing to offer. We understand in the light of who He is that we are empty handed and lacking. But somehow we connect and we stay—because we relate. We see how humbly he came, how willing He was to make Himself like us and to put Himself in our context. We look around desperately for something—anything to offer—and we humbly ask if it’s enough. And always, the King smiles, as we lay before Him whatever we have in our hands and we give our very best to honor Him.

That, my friends, is the story of salvation with a few rum pum pum pums in between. And the story of salvation and the story of Christmas are one in the same! So while I still am hoping that this song doesn’t make the Christmas Eve line up at my church this year, I do have a much deeper and sweeter appreciation for it, and I’ll stop making Alexa skip it when the Amazon Holiday Playlist brings it up.



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