Growing up, this carol was not on my favorite list. I’m not even sure why I didn’t like it, but it has grown on me over the years to where I can appreciate it.
Carol of the Drum was written in 1941 by music teacher, Katherine K. Davis. Presumably, the carol is based off of a Czech song which has never been identified. It was however, first titled, “Czech carol freely transcribed by K.K.D. ” of which later the initials are scratched out and replaced by her pseudonym, C.R.W. Robinson.
Although originally titled, Carol of the Drum, the song is now known as The Little Drummer Boy. It was written for a girl’s chorale, where the melody is written for soprano with the alto, tenor, and bass producing the drum rhythm. It had keyboard accompaniment but that was written just for rehearsal.
Carol of the Drum is of a young boy who comes to see the new baby born. Although it is not stated in the song, the implication is that he has met the wise men from the East who brought gifts and they have encouraged him to come along. Not having a present for this new child, he decides to play a song for the “king”. The story records how the baby was pleased with his song and smiled at him. In essence the song has a smooth, endearing rhythm but not much doctrine to it’s credit. It does make for a great acapella choir piece, though.
This carol was originally recorded by the von Trapp family singers (think Sound of Music). Check out this video of them singing it: Von Trapp Family The original story of the von Trapps has always fascinated me (no, it’s not like the movie, AT ALL). So it was neat to me to learn that piece of trivia.
Is Carol of the Drum one that you would add to your repertoire next year?