Music

'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas': The Story Behind Judy Garland's Holiday Classic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKG5X0QMSWA

Of all of the endless Christmas songs out there, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" really captures the meaning of the season. The holidays can be stressful and bring up negativity in all of us so it's important to focus on what this time is about and make it as positive for yourself as you can. It's an uplifting song that gives you all the feels and reminds you to enjoy time with family and friends as the year comes to a close. Did you know the song was actually written for Judy Garland in the film Meet Me in St. Louis?

Composer Hugh Martin and lyricist Ralph Blane were hired to contribute music to the 1944 film and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was one of the songs they worked on together. But the initial version of the song was actually quite depressing. According to the Chicago Tribune, the original lyrics initially began like this:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas

It may be your last

Next year we may all be living in the past

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It's no wonder that Judy Garland, co-star Tom Drake, and even the film's director Vincente Minnelli thought it was too dark. In the musical film, Garland's character Esther sings the Christmas song to her five-year-old sister Tootie (Margaret O'Brien) after their family hears that they have to leave their home in St. Louis, Missouri to move to New York because of their father's job. The scene takes place on Christmas Eve and gives us all the feels as we watch Garland's incredible performance, encouraging her sister to enjoy their last Christmas in the home they love. Thankfully, the lyrics were lightened up a bit and were updated to what we know today:

Let your heart be light

From now on, our troubles will be out of sight

A few years later, Frank Sinatra included the song on his Christmas album, A Jolly Christmas and reportedly asked Martin to "jolly up" the following line:

Someday soon we all will be together

If the fates allow

Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow

The last line was changed to "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough" which how most people sing it today. Decades later, the song is nearly as much a part of Christmas as "Jingle Bells" or Santa Claus. We have to credit that to the various facelifts the song took over the years to make the lyrics more empowering and positive.  It's included on nearly every artist's holiday albums with other notable versions coming from Michael Bublé, Bing Crosby, Josh Groban, and John Legend.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" Lyrics

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles will be out of sight
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles will be miles away
Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more
Someday soon we all will be together
If the fates allow
Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

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'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas': The Story Behind Judy Garland's Holiday Classic