“The Little Drummer Boy” is a popular Christmas song, with words and music by Katherine K. Davis. Henry Onorati and Harry Simeone have been credited with writing the song, even though they were only the arrangers for their recordings of it.
The lyrics tell the apocryphal story of a poor young boy who, unable to afford a gift for the infant Jesus, plays his drum for the newborn with the Virgin Mary’s approval. Miraculously, the baby, although a newborn, seems to understand and smiles at the boy in gratitude. The story is somewhat similar to an old twelfth-century legend retold by Anatole France as Le jongleur de Notre-Dame (The Juggler of Notre Dame), which was adapted into an opera in 1902 by Jules Massenet. In the French legend, however, a juggler juggles before the statue of the Virgin Mary, and the statue, according to which version of the legend one reads, either smiles at him or throws him a rose (or both, as in the 1984 made-for-television film).
Performers: The Harry Simeone Chorale
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1941; USA