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Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas lyrics

The original lyrics of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas might surprise you

12 December 2019

Classic Christmas hit, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas has had several variations down the years. Here's why.

Hugh Martin wrote Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas for Judy Garland to sing in the 1944 film Meet Me in St Louis.

The melancholy melody originally featured lyrics very different from the ones we know today. In fact, they were first written as a reminiscence of bittersweet wartime festivities.

The opening lines weren't shy about giving some clue as to the message to follow:

"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, it may be your last".

Hollywood executives were twitchy about the depressing lyrics and requested a rewrite. In fact, Judy Garland herself suggested that, if she were to sing those words to Margaret O'Brien, she would be seen as a "monster".

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While both Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane are credited with having written Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Hugh said that he had in fact composed all the songs for Meet Me in St Louis by himself.

Findmypast - London office

Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin

Despite initially disagreeing with the studio's wishes, Hugh soon rewrote the song after receiving this advice from one of the film's stars, Tom Drake, who was also a friend of his.

"This is potentially a very great and important song. I feel that in my guts. Now listen to me. Don't be a stubborn idiot. Write a lyric for that beautiful melody that Judy will sing. You'll thank me."

Well, that's one story of how the conversation went. Hugh recalled it going something more along the lines of:

"You stupid son of a b*tch! You're gonna foul up your life if you don't write another verse of that song!"

Today, there are two versions of the song which are commonly sung, the original Judy Garland version, with the lyric "Until then, we'll have to muddle through somehow" and a later version by Frank Sinatra, who requested that Hugh "jolly up" that line for his Christmas album.

This led to the addition of the "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough" line.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas original lyrics

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

It may be your last.

Next year we may all be living in the past.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Pop that champagne cork.

Next year we may all be living in New York.

No good times like the olden days.

Happy golden days of yore.

Faithful friends who were dear to us.

Will be near to us no more.

But at least we all will be together.

If the Lord allows.

From now on, we'll have to muddle through somehow.

So have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

So this Christmas, when you're arguing with relatives about which lyrics are correct, you'll know where the confusion came from.