Lyrically Inspired – Little Drummer Boy

December is one of my two favorite months of the year.  The other is October. . . but I digress.

I love Christmas music.  I mean I would listen to it all year if people weren’t so prone to being cranky about it.  But December means all restrictions are off and I can blast Christmas music to my heart’s content!

So I thought I’d take a few minutes to share with you some of my most favorite songs as well as the reasons why.  Lyrics can be every bit as thought-provoking as a good book, a powerful sermon, or a deep philosophical discussion.

This first song wasn’t a favorite when I was younger.  Frankly, I found it annoying for a time.  Somewhere during middle school I was able to get past the “nonsense lyrics” and really hear what was being said and my opinion was radically changed.  Let me show you what I mean –

I have no gift to bring
That’s fit to give our king
Shall I play for you
On my drum
Mary nodded
The ox and lamb kept time
I played my drum for him
I played my best for him
Then he smiled at me
Me and my drum
I took out the “pa rum pum pum pum” lyrics because this is the phrase that first captured my attention and I wanted you to see the words clearly.
All the drummer boy had to offer was his ability to play.  When he did so, the infant smiled at him.  As simple as that – the drummer gave the very best that he had and it pleased the Messiah.
There is a sad tendency in some churches to allow for shoddy musicianship in services because the thinking is “We’re doing it for Jesus so it’s the thought that counts.”  I doubt most churches would feel that way about the sermon.  We expect the Pastor to put in time preparing the sermon.  Reading scripture, praying, consulting the original language when needed . . . none of us would be happy with a pastor who got into the pulpit on Sunday morning and said, “I haven’t really prepared anything.  I’m just gonna kinda wing it today.”
But church musicians?  People have actually been known to get angry that they rehearse; that they come to the Sunday morning service well-prepared.  But this song gets it – “I played my best for him”.
Wouldn’t be a bad epitaph, now that I think about it – She played her best for him.

Welcome Home – The Story Behind the Song

My sisters and I are all Michigan “born and raised” but we have all ventured to live in other states at various points in our adult lives.  Currently, hubby and I are in North Central Iowa while the middle sister, Becki, and her two boys are in Richmond,VA (my parents live with her as well) and the baby sister, Andrea, lives in San Antonio, TX with her hubby and their three kids.  Becki also lived in the Dallas, TX area for a while and it was during that time that God used her to inspire a song.

This was in the days before Skype or FaceTime or social networking of any kind.  We relied on emails, “snail mail”, and phone calls.  During one of our weekly (most of the time) phone calls, we discovered that, in a spiritual sense, we were walking down similar paths.  Both of us were learning about our true identity as children of God.  There were a number of times when one of us would talk about a realization or a new understanding and the other person would respond with “Oh my gosh, me too!”

At the end of one such conversation, Becki told me she was going to email me a poem she had recently written, sort of a way for her to capture the lesson in a concrete way for when she needed reminding down the road.  I opened the email and read the poem.  Before I was done, there was a melody line running repeatedly through my head connected to a specific line she had written.  So I emailed her back and begged her to let me turn the lyrics into a song.  With a couple of small tweaks – mostly for rhyme and rhythm – “Welcome Home” was born.  For reasons I won’t go into here, the parable of the Prodigal Son is a family favorite and this song captures that story from the father’s perspective – the idea of a loving father waiting and watching for his child to return home.  No judgment, no conditions; just unbridled love, restoration and healing.

The concept of being God’s cherished daughter has been a powerful one in my life.  So much so that I bear a tattoo that says “Daughter of God” in Hebrew.  The chorus of this song has been a balm in the rough spots of life and the fact that my sister and I had both had a hand in “birthing” this one is special to me.

“Welcome home, my child, I’ve been waiting
I’ve been watching and I love you
Let me fix your broken pieces.
Won’t you let me carry you?
My child, you’ve been gone away so long.
Welcome home.”

John 1:12-13

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Luke 15:22-24

But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet: and bring the fattened calf kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”  And they began to celebrate.

The Story Behind the Song – Sing Over Me

I took my first piano lesson one week after I turned 4 ½ and I’ve been playing ever since.  I was classically trained but my mother made sure that I learned some of the basic improv skills used by church pianists and I’ve played in services off and on since I was about 12.  I began accompanying soloists and ensembles in 7th grade (right about 1980) and have been doing it ever since.  I sang my first solo in church at the age of 12 and have sung in choirs at all levels of age and experience since then.

To say that music is a central piece of my life and my worship experience would be an understatement.  It’s one of the ways that I cope with stress, express joy, work through sadness . . . it’s the cheapest therapy I know!

You can imagine my delight when my sister introduced me to a verse that talked about God singing over his children!  The idea that my obedience and walking in faith delights God to the point that he sings over me?!  This musician was delighted at the concept!  Then there came a time where I had to seriously evaluate a ministry involvement that came close to tapping into my passion without going quite all the way.  I was being asked to give preference to opinions of others over the leading of the Holy Spirit and it was beating me up spiritually.  I was unsettled and lacking in peace.  I realized, after some serious soul-searching and the gift of the lyrics that would become this song, that I needed to back away from that ministry.  It was harder than you might think because it wasn’t a perfect fit with my passion, but it got close.  Stepping away meant there would be nothing.

So I stepped away and the personal healing began almost immediately.  When I start to struggle with choosing to follow man’s preferences or the Spirit’s leading, I go back to this song.  There is only one audience who truly matters when all is said and done.

“Ev’ry melody I sing, ev’ry note of praise I bring
I lay humbly at the feet of my Savior and my king.
With ev’ry single rhyme, from now until the end of time
I seek nothing more than just to hear him sing
Sing over me.”

Zephaniah 3:17

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.