It was too bad it didn’t work out.
We had just walked out of Saturday evening Mass when I noticed an overlooked message on my phone. A special opportunity arose to enjoy an astounding Christmas performance by the Christian band, For King & Country, at Minneapolis’ Target Center. But I was recovering from surgery (pesky gall bladder), we had plans with our daughters and we were too far from downtown to make it on time. So it wasn’t going to work.
Now, if you are unfamiliar with For King & Country, let me recommend you start with songs like Fix My Eyes, Light It Up, and Out of the Woods (a mesmerizing improvement on Taylor Swift’s hit song of the same name) among others and you will find them refreshingly unlike anything you have heard in some time from either the pop or Christian scene.
So as we drove away from Mass to our other plans that night, we downloaded songs from For King & Country’s recent album, Christmas Live from Phoenix. And though I have heard the original song countless times, it was their version of Little Drummer Boy that struck me most. The rendition was appropriately percussion heavy, thick with the tension of a repeating cello chord and then warmed up with the penetrating harmonies of the Smallbone brothers. The music is great and the video performance is even better. It is something like a mix of Coldplay, American Authors and Mumford & Sons; fast, vibrant, and exuberant yet deeply informed by their Christian faith.
And so, as we listened to the Little Drummer Boy, it was as if the words I had heard so long ago finally sank in.
Just think about it.
A small impoverished boy with little more than a drum was told of something extraordinary. Come and see this.
Come they told me pa rum pum pum pumA newborn King to see pa rum pum pum pumOur finest gifts we bring pa rum pum pum pumTo lay before the King pa rum pum pum pumrum pum pum pum rum pum pum pumSo to honour Him pa rum pum pum pum
When we come.
But then he worried. What have I to give? Nothing. This is someone very special; this is royalty. And I am nobody. I am ashamed that I have nothing. That I am nothing. Nothing. Until he realized, This is a King like no other. He is not a man, but a baby. He lies not amidst costly silks and palace fineries, but in a feed trough set in a stinking stable. And his family are common folk, like me. Like me. Standing a little taller and gripping his drumsticks, the boy goes on. Perhaps there is something I can give.
Baby Jesus pa rum pum pum pumI am a poor boy too pa rum pum pum pumI have no gift to bring pa rum pum pum pumThat’s fit to give a King pa rum pum pum pumrum pum pum pum rum pum pum pumShall I play for you? pa rum pum pum pumOn my drum?
And then he played. He played with a passion that transcended music he had ever played for pleasure or for money. He beat that drum with a fervency comparable to the prophets of old and the saints yet to come. He played it for his God and King.
Mary nodded pa rum pum pum pumThe ox and lamb kept time pa rum pum pum pumI played my drum for Him pa rum pum pum pumI played my best for Him pa rum pum pum pumrum pum pum pum rum pum pum pumThen He smiled at me pa rum pum pum pumMe and my drum
And as I listened to the song, so old yet so new, I realized, I am that drummer boy. A sinner. Weak in will. Poor in spirit. And lacking anything substantial to give to the Lord of the Universe.
Except for myself.
But that is all this Christ child is asking of me. And you.
Everything we are.
And if, just if, you feel you are nothing or have nothing, find what is your drum. And play it.
I played my drum for Him pa rum pum pum pumI played my best for Him pa rum pum pum pumrum pum pum pum rum pum pum pumThen He smiled at me pa rum pum pum pumMe and my drum
Photo credit: Pixabay