Written in 1941 by an American classical music composer and teacher named Katherine Kennicott Davis, Carol of the Drum is one of the most popular of Christmas carols. It was first recorded by the Trapp Family Singers (of The Sound of Music fame) in 1951. In 1958 the song reached the peak of its popularity when it was recorded by the Harry Simeone Chorale and released under the name it is better known as, The Little Drummer Boy.
The song is about a poor young drummer boy who travels with the wise men to see the baby Jesus. While the wise men bring valuable gifts to give to the baby born to be a King, gifts such as gold, frankincense, and myrrh, the young boy has nothing to offer to Jesus but to play for Him on his drum. The gift, which came from the heart of the drummer boy, makes the baby Jesus smile.
Christmas is a time for giving gifts. We give gifts to family and friends, gifts that tell them that we love them. And, of course, the greatest Christmas gift of all is the one that was given to the world by God, who sent His Son Jesus so that we might have eternal life (John 3:16). But what gift can we give to God? What gift can we offer to Jesus that would be fit for the King of kings?
In Mark 12:41-44 and Luke 21:1-4, we read about a day when Jesus sat by the collection box at the Temple and watched as the people entering the Temple put their gifts into the treasury. As He sat there, a poor widow put in two small copper coins, which were the equivalent of about one cent. Jesus then called His disciples over and pointed out that the meager gift of the widow was of far more value than the larger gifts of those who were rich. Why? Because she gave from her heart, she gave all that she had.
Romans 12:1 tells us that the best gift that we can give to God for all He has done for us is to offer our lives as a sacrifice to Him. In other words, like the poor widow, and the drummer boy, we should hold back nothing from Jesus. That is the kind of gift that Jesus finds acceptable; it is true worship. And, just as the drummer boy’s drum playing made Jesus smile because it came from the boy’s heart, when we offer our lives as our gift, our sacrifice of worship, we can be sure that Jesus smiles at us, too.