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Article 3 (Nov 2018): How we came to know the drummer boy
November 29, 2018One of the most beloved Christmas carols is a sentimental ballad, not grounded in Biblical verse, but well rooted in hearts at Christmas. The familiar “Pa rum pa pum pum” is sung as the little drummer boy played for the baby Jesus. We don't worry that the drumming woke the Babe because, after all, Mary nodded. And the little drummer boy, who was a poor boy too, played his best as a gift for the newborn king. And He smiled.
What more can you ask of a carol than a tear for innocence and a musical ox and lamb that can keep time?
Perhaps one thing you could ask, if you were the author as was Katherine Davis a Wellesley music teacher, was for a little credit.
It is reported that in 1941 Davis gave an interview in which she spoke about a tune running through her head for a little Christmas carol that she said practically wrote itself.
About 20 years later, a friend called to say her carol was on the radio. "What carol?" asked Davis. "The Little Drummer Boy. It's everywhere."
And it certainly was. Davis managed to eventually claim credit (and royalties) for the song, which is now part of the beloved library of uniquely American Christmas carols.
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