The Little Drummer Boy

by M. Kate Quinn

It’s a seemingly simple song with a repetitious lyric. I refer to the holiday classic, “The Little Drummer Boy.” Did you know that there are twenty-one rum-pum-pum-pums? Neither did I until I actually counted them.

Produced in 1958 by Katherine K. Davis, Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone, it has since been recorded in seven languages and there are more than two hundred twenty versions. It is an adaptation of an old tale entitled “Carol of the Drum.”

The question I had was how could such a tiny little song without much elaboration become so popular and self-sustaining? The answer, like the song, was simple.

The boy in the song, a little drummer, is poor and when called to visit the newborn king he has no gift to give the baby. His words to the child are apologetic. He says I have no gift. But, then he asks if he can play his drum and the baby’s mother gives him the go-ahead. The little boy plays, bestowing his gift of music, and the baby smiles.

The holidays are upon us and it is the time when we purchase gifts at the mall or place orders online, garnering presents for those we care about in our time-honored tradition. But, we must not forget that we have greater gifts to share. We have our time, our talents, our friendship, our love. Twenty-one rum-pum-pum-pums later, I get it.

Happy Holidays!
M. Kate Quinn


  1. Wonderful post and I love that song - brings tears to my eyes! It says it all...

  2. what a lovely post MK. you're so right - about the true sentiment of the season.

    i also love that carol.


  3. You seem to have the ability to cast a serenity spell on anyone that reads your post. Again, another dose of reality from Marykate. Thank you, and Happy Holidays.

  4. An sweet, simple and resonating reminder, Marykate.

    Thank you!

    (PS: My favorite (of the versions I know anyway) is David Bowie's and Bing Crosby's. And who could forget Nestor, the Long-Eared Donkey who visited the newborn king along with that pint-sized percussionist? ;)

    Wishing wonderful holidays to all!
    Joanna Aislinn
    The Wild Rose Press


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