Why ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ is my favourite carol

Why ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ is my favourite carol

If I had to choose a favourite Christmas carol, I’d be torn between O Holy Night and The Little Drummer Boy. The former evokes the majesty and grandeur of Christ’s birth; the latter is more sentimental and maybe even childish.

Every year, it seems, someone somewhere writes an article lamenting the strong association of Christmas and children. ‘Christmas is for adults!’ they cry, ‘Forget the kiddy sentimentality!’ I get what they’re saying, but still I think they’re wrong.

Instead of wresting Christmas away from children, I think it’s better for us grownups to remember the Christmases of our childhood, and to behold Christmas again through the eyes of children.

Children are perfectly capable of recognising the significance of Christ’s birth in the midst of Christmas presents and Santa Claus. For all the time they spend admiring the Christmas tree, they’re as likely to admire the nativity scene too. And they have little trouble comprehending the idea that the small child lying in the manger is the Son of God, King of Kings, and Prince of Peace.

Apart from that, as Pope Francis recently observed, Christmas teaches us tenderness. In the same way, children teach us tenderness. So seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child amplifies that lesson of tenderness.

That’s why I like The Little Drummer Boy. That’s why, too, I love this telling of the Christmas story, An Unexpected Christmas:


  1. Cathy
    Dec 25, 2013

    Merry Christmas Fr John!
    Here is a version of the Drummer Boy you may like,

    • MuMu
      Dec 27, 2013

      Thanks for that, C
      athy. I still haven’t been able to find a Christmas album which I really love. I’ll try listening to others on the Celtic Woman album.

  2. MuMu
    Dec 27, 2013

    It’s good, Father! But as it’s still Christmas, I’d like to share my fave for this year…


    • anne
      Jan 1, 2014

      Mu Mu agree Hallellujah magnificent nothing quite like it is there. Listening to this one can feel heaven breaking through.
      Happy New Year.

  3. Anne
    Jan 1, 2014

    Hi Peoples Happy New Year hope your Christmas was beautiful and yes I love Drummer boy but you kniow cant get it out of my head for a week now. Its become pesky.