Saturday, December 10, 2016

#397, in which we play our best for Him

I wrote about the fourteen Christmas hymns in the LDS hymnal three years ago. If you're interested in reading them again, you can find the full list here; if not, you may want to stop reading here and for the next thirteen posts, because I'm going to write about fourteen more Christmas songs, only this time, songs outside of the hymnal. Several of you helped provide suggestions, some I'd thought of, some I hadn't, and some I'd never even heard of before.

We start with "Little Drummer Boy," a song that took me quite a while to warm up to. I like singing and hearing about baby Jesus, but the "pa rum pum pum pum"s always felt a little incongruous with the stillness and reverence I always pictured in the stable. It took my finding a softer version to get me to change my mind.

(This will probably not be the last time Sufjan Stevens appears in these posts.)

The story of the drummer boy is not strictly doctrinal, but it tells of the wise men going to visit the Christ child and summoning a young boy to come with them.

Come they told me 
A newborn King to see 
Our finest gifts we bring 
To lay before the King 
So to honor Him 
When we come 
There's no telling why they felt they needed to bring a child, or how this child fell in with the magi, of all people, but he joins them. The song doesn't say, but I get the sense this young man felt out of place among prominent and powerful men with elegant gifts. The phrase "our finest gifts to bring" may have made him feel uneasy. What could he offer to a King that would compare with gold, frankincense, or myrrh? Why would his little drum be honored against such mighty gifts? 

Yet also, I get the sense that despite his fear, he wanted to see the little Lord in the manger. He probably didn't know exactly who the baby was (did the shepherds? did the animals?), but he may have felt that this was a special occasion. He may even, as we see, have felt a certain kinship with His humble origins.

Little baby 
I am a poor boy too 
I have no gift to bring 
That's fit to give our King 
Shall I play for you 
On my drum

This boy had little to offer, but what little he had, he freely gave. The wise men, in all their opulence and splendor, did the same. That's all we are asked of our Lord, each of us. He asks for our hearts, all of them. He asks for our will, all of it. He asks for us to be His, all of us. Just as the Lord gave all that He had on our behalf, we are asked to give all that we are to Him. It doesn't matter if you have gold, frankincense, myrrh, or a drum to offer. The request is the same to each of us: all that we have, and all that we are.

There's not much to tell with the song (fully fifty percent of the lyrics are either "pa," "rum," or "pum"), but the simple message is by no means not a powerful one.

Mary nodded 
The lamb and ox kept time 
I played my drum for him 
I played my best for him 
Then He smiled at me 
Me and my drum

1 comment:

Brooke Evans said...

Awesome. Thanks for doing this!