Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Play Your Drum

The Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simeone Chorale is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It started to play in the car today on a burned disc I made of some Christmas favorites. When the brummm brummm brummm started I turned up the volume, but Katie grimaced and expressed disinterest in this song.

I was puzzled, how could this be? I said "whaaat? This is one of my favorites and I can't listen to it and not tear up!" I decided Katie must not get out of this song what I do, so I decided to explain it to her and maybe give her some insight and perspective she has not considered before. After I was done, she admitted that she now hears the song differently and wants to hear it again!

While the song played, I would stop the player now and then to emphasize the lyric and what it means...what it means to me. (I don't know if how I interpret the song has anything to do with the author's/composer's inspiration or thought that was meant to convey, but it is what I get out of the song. This is solely my own interpretation.)
Come, they told me (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
A new-born King to see (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
Our finest gifts we bring (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
To lay before the King (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum)
So to honor Him (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
When we come

Baby Gesu (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I am a poor boy, too (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I have no gift to bring (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
That's fit to give a King (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum)
Shall I play for you (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
On my drum?

Mary nodded (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
The ox and lamb kept time (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I played my drum for Him (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I played my best for Him (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum)
Then, He smiled at me (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
Me and my drum
The first verse of the song basically sets the stage and this young boy was told that these people were traveling to see a newborn baby who would someday be a king. People are bringing all sorts of gifts to honor him.

Now this is when the song gets really interesting!

"Baby Gesu, I am a poor boy too, I have no gift to bring that's fit to give a king" The kid identifies with the babe because he sees Him as "poor". He's born in a stable, wrapped in cloth amongst the beasts of burden, and it's cold. The boy probably thinks that this kid is in need of some of the gifts that are being given to him, yet, because he is a "poor boy too", he didn't bring anything. He didn't bring anything at all that would be worthy to give a king. I wonder, was the boy embarrassed? Was he curious as to what the fuss was all about? Maybe he felt somewhat self-conscious that all these people were there bearing gifts, and he had not one thing to give. Did the boy feel ashamed? Unworthy perhaps? Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever feel unworthy..unfit to see the King?

Imagine that...having nothing to give Him. We do have NOTHING to give Him that He has not already given everything to us! But, there is one thing we can give Him. The one thing we can give to God that He doesn't first give to us is praise and worship. So, the boy stands before the baby in a manger, with no gift to give Him, and asks him "shall I play for you on my drum?"

I had to stop the player at this point! Think about this...The kid says he has "nothing", but he has everything God has gifted him with. The kid plays a mean drum! So, what does he do with the gift God gave him? He gives it right back to God! I LOVE THAT! God gave us all gifts...we are supposed to give them back to Him! It is called worship!

I restart the song where we left off. So now what is the answer? Can he play his drum? Here is this tired mother who just hours ago gave birth to a seven pound, ten ounce baby (Obgyn 1:1) and here comes this dirty, poor, young boy asking to play a drum. It is quiet. The babe is resting, the mother is still and kindly accepting the gifts coming to him from the respectful visitors, the animals are hushed and the night is still. All that is heard is the crackle of the fire warming the area and casting a flickering, dim light on the people, and here comes a boy and a DRUM! A drum! I'm sure Mary was thrilled with the idea of him banging a drum! Imagine a kid coming to play a drum at the next baby shower you attend! Drums are not usually welcome at those events! LOL

The next verse is one verse that blows me away...Mary nodded. This is a nod of affirmation from a tender-hearted mother, and then the boy begins to play. Creation joined in when The ox and lamb kept time. (Psalm 96:9 "Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.") The moment was filled with praise and worship because one young boy played his drum, offering the gift God gave him back to His Lord. The Little Drummer Boy was the first worship leader!

I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him! That's all the kid knew to do! He gave it his everything too and here is where the music really begins to crescendo. The animals have joined in, the people bearing gifts are listening and clapping maybe and tapping their feet to the sound of the drum. The music continues to build to an intense climax and then the drumming stops. It ends suddenly with a decrescendo, a brummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm that fades away into silence. The little drummer boy stops playing.

Now the great pause!

Silence...for just a moment.

What transpires in that moment? The boy has just offered his best performance on his drum. Was it enough? Was it enough to please the king...the tiny baby lying before him? There is anticipation in the air...the animals are quiet, the gift-bearing crowd is awaiting the next moment, wondering if the boy's gift of drumming had any impact at all? Everyone is still and quiet waiting for happen next. Then....

(slightly slower tempo here to contrast the climax of the drummer's offering.)

He smiled at me,

Me and my drum.

That's the line that gets me every time! I can hardly listen and not have tears well up.

"Well done my good and faithful servant" is what that says to me!

The Little Drummer Boy is such an impacting story to me, and I enjoy the vocal interpretation by the Harry Simeone Chorale to help convey the tenderness, majesty, mercifullness and joy of this story. We come to the Lord with all we have, which without Him, is nothing. We deserve nothing. Yet, he gives. He gives us all we have. He gave us His One and Only Son, who died and was raised. We praise Him for that. We worship Him. We are to worship Him with everything that He gave us...our heart, soul, mind and strength! And a drum...or whatever else He has gifted you with! When you do that...He will smile at you. So, play your drum!

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