Christmas Songs day 16: Little Drummer Boy and Do You Hear What I Hear

Time for more religious carols! These ones I like because they talk about the story of Jesus from what is, arguably, the most important perspective: That of the common man, touched by the divine but not a vital part of the story. It’s fantastical and ultimately impossible to ever be in Mary’s position, bearing the messiah and visited by angels, but it’s much more likely to be in the position of the little boy with a drum who just wants to do some small thing for a great person.

Little baby,
I am a poor boy too,
I have no gift to bring
to lay before a King

Songs like this show a side of Christianity that I really do like: the side where even the smallest person can make a difference, where Jesus (even as a newborn baby who really shouldn’t be capable of smiling) has pity on the small and the weak and treasures anything they can bring to him as much or more than the gifts of the rich and famous.

Here’s an upbeat rock version by Sean Quigley:

Drums are a huge part of the song:

Not that you can tell from Alicia Keys’ version:

or Destiny’s Child’s version:

Both of which emphasize the narrative but lose the rhythmic drummer feel in favor of an R&B flavor.

Originally I had planned this to show how the two songs were both about the common man; Do You Hear What I Hear has a very similar feel and involves a narrative where the commoners know what’s happening before the king.

But then I got to thinking. The night wind tells the lamb in the first place; other signs include the star and the angels. So while the shepherd boy was a vehicle for the story, the story isn’t about him, and he doesn’t participate much; instead, he’s a messenger, conveying information from the natural world to the King, presumably enclosed in walls and separated from the common folk by his palace. The shepherd only knows by being in tune with nature, while nature is a direct participant in the story.

So I’m not so sure about it. What do you think?

Have some Whitney Houston:

or a lovely instrumental by Mannheim Steamroller:

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This entry was posted in Christmas Music Special, Deconstructions, Music and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Christmas Songs day 16: Little Drummer Boy and Do You Hear What I Hear

  1. Firedrake says:

    I quite like Alex Lifeson’s slow twiddly guitar version of the Drummer Boy – I’d give a link, but youtube’s behaving oddly for me just now.

  2. Pingback: Deconstruction Round Up, December 21st, 2012 « The Slacktiverse

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