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The Little Drummer Boy Christmas Song

The Little Drummer Boy

Year: 1941

Written By: Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone

The Christmas song, originally called Carol of the Drum, was written musician Katherine Davis in 1941 and based upon a 12th century French legend.  In 1957, the music was re-written by Henry Onorati and recorded by the Jack Halloran Singers.


The lyrics tell the story of a poor little boy who is upset because he has no money to buy a present for the baby Jesus.  He decides instead to play a song on his drum.  Mary, baby Jesus, and the animals nearby all enjoy listening to his song.


In 1958, a friend of Mr. Onorati was looking for a song to record for a Christmas album he was creating.  Mr. Onorati told him about Carol of the Drum.  His friend, Harry Simeone, re-wrote the musical arrangement and recorded it with the Harry Simeone Chorale group for the album, Sing We Now Of Christmas, and entitled the song The Little Drummer Boy.


The album and the song were a huge success; the song remained on the popular music charts from 1958 to 1962!  Due to the popularity of the song, the album was re-released under the title The Little Drummer Boy: A Christmas Festival song tells the story of a young boy who is too poor to buy a gift for the Baby Jesus.  Instead, he decides to play his drum for the Baby.  Mary and Baby Jesus are happy with his gift, as are the animals in the stable.


In 1965, Harry Simeone recorded a new version of the song for his album O'Bambino-The Little Drummer Boy.  In 1968, an animated television Christmas special was created that was based upon the song.


In 1955, The Trapp Family singers recorded a song called Carol of the Drum, which was almost identical to the lyrics of The Little Drummer Boy except for one line.  According to the album jacket, the song is a "Czech carol".  The Trapp Singers were a popular music group and the musical The Sound Of Music was based upon their lives.


Numerous other artists have recorded the song including The Crusaders, Bing Crosby, Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Rosemary Clooney, and Joan Jett and The Blackhearts, New Kids On The Block, Miriah Carey, and Faith Hill.  The song was also featured on a White House Christmas special in 1972 and was reported to be Richard Nixon's favorite Christmas Carol.  The Brady Bunch, a group of 6 children who appeared on a popular American television sitcom in the 1960's and 1970's, also sang the song on a Christmas album that they recorded in 1970.

 

The Little Drummer Boy Lyrics

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.

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 the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?
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.
 

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