This Christmas favorite was written by Katherine Davis, a woman born in 1892 in St. Joseph, Missouri. Davis loved music from childhood and she studied both American and European folk music. Many of the folktales she learned of revolved around gifts given to the baby Jesus. Stories of the poor sharing the little they had to honor the Lord's birth were passed on for centuries.
With America in economic turmoil during the Great Depression, however, these stories of seemingly unworthy presents given from the heart meant more than they ever had before. Parents made presents for their children out of leftover pieces of twine, wood, and ribbon. Millions couldn't even afford a Christmas card, so gifts from the heart were all they could offer to family and friends.
With World War II an ominous threat, Davis penned a simple, heartfelt song about a poor child coming to witness the birth of the Savior. The child was a victim of poverty, a polite child whose only possession was a small drum. Tentatively, he asks Mary if his gift would be appropriate for a king. In those days of looming war and financial chaos, it was a story that millions could relate to.
Although The Little Drummer Boy didn't become popular until the late 1950's, the simple and honest tale is a beautiful example of the best Christmas gift of all.