The Little Drummer Boy was written by Katherine Kennicott Davis in 1941. Davis was a school teacher, pianist and classical music composer. Born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1892, she attended Wellesley College and the New England Conservatory of Music; she taught music at the Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts, and at the Shady Hill School for Girls in Philadelphia.
During her lifetime Davis wrote more than 600 musical compositions–including operas, cantatas, children’s operettas, and more–many of these pieces written for the choirs in her schools. Her song, “The Little Drummer Boy,” was first recorded by the Trapp Family Singers in 1951, and later became a nationwide hit with the release of the Harry Simeone Chorale version in 1958.
The version above is by Irish Catholic singer/songwriter Dolores O’Riordan. O’Riordan was born in the area of Ballybricken, in County Limerick, Ireland, and for many years she was the lead singer of the Irish rock group, The Cranberries. According to Wikipedia:
Her mother was a devout Catholic who chose her name in reference to the Lady of the Seven Dolours. She admires the late Pope John Paul II. After meeting him inside Vatican City, O’Riordan remarked: “[He] was lovely, very saintly. I was mad about him. I thought he really cared for the poor and he loved to meet the people. I saw him when he came to Limerick, when I was a kid. So it was pretty mindblowing to take my mum out to meet him.” She was invited by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican’s annual Christmas concerts, and performed there several times, in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
The video above is from her 2001 performance at The Vatican. The entire video is quite beautiful, but for me the most striking moment comes at the end when a sparkling smile breaks out upon O’Riordan’s face just after she sings the lines, “Then he smiled at me…me and my drum.”
Imagine…just let your mind wander for a moment…you are standing in that manger 2,000 years ago. You have come to see the Christ child. And just as you are standing there, in the cold, and with nothing but a candle-lit lamp providing light, suddenly the infant looks up at you from his crib…and smiles at you. Imagine the joyous, awe-inspiring feeling in your heart!