Loosely based on a Czech carol, Katherine K. Davis first wrote and published 'Carol of the Drum' under the pseudonym of C.R.W. Robertson in 1941. The original manuscript is on display in Wellesley College, Massachusetts, where Davis once was a scholar.
Harry Onorati, the arranger for The Jack Halloran Singers' 1957 version, received a songwriting credit for his contribution. Onorati later shared the song with Harry Simeone, who recorded a version titled 'The Little Drummer Boy' using the same arrangement, which was released in December 1958. Simeone also received a songwriting credit. The title 'The Little Drummer Boy' has been most commonly used since then, and the Onorati/Simeone arrangement remains very popular.