Appreciating all that makes America special

Holiday: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" made its debut in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis. Judy Garland introduced it to the world. Uploaded by annyas.com.

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is one of the relatively few Christmas songs  to have their genesis in films or on Broadway. This song made its debut in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis, sung by Judy Garland.

Uploaded by pattisprimitives to etsy.com.

In the movie, Judy Garland’s father planned to move the family to New York, a move which pleased no one. Garland sang this song to her little sister to cheer her up. One line in the song, still heard occasionally, went:

From now on we’ll have to muddle through somehow.

Then in 1957, Frank Sinatra recorded the song for his album A Jolly Christmas. He asked the song’s writer, Hugh Martin, to change that line to make it more, well, jolly. So now we usually hear:

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.

Since that time, there’s been one more change to the lyrics. A line that always bugged me was “Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow.” Turns out Martin originally wrote: “…if our Lord allows,” but it was removed so the song wouldn’t be too religious. I’m surprised to see that this kind of negative sentiment already existed more than 60 years ago.

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4 Comments

  1. I always wondered why that line doesn’t seem to fit! Thanks.

  2. Hi,

    I found your blog while looking for pictures of the Grinch, and I have to say that I think it’s a fantastic blog. I’ve read through several posts!

    I do have a question, though. What do you mean you are surprised to see that kind of negative sentiment more than 60 years ago? There have always been people who don’t believe, and don’t care to hear constant praising the lord, it’s just that it’s more acceptable now to say your true feelings. I realize it’s a Christmas song, but Christmas isn’t really about Christ anymore. And anyway, there were festivals and celebrations at this time before Christianity adopted them to try to incorporate people into the religion.

    I don’t mean to be offensive, I just mean to say I don’t think excluding religion from a song is necessarily a negative sentiment because a religious person wouldn’t want to constantly hear that there is no God. It’s better to just leave it without saying anything either way. If people want to be religious, they can do so in their own time, and the same goes for people who are not religious. I think that’s fair.

    But anyway, sorry for the long comment!

    • Hi Sara,

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You’re certainly right that there have always been people who don’t believe, and didn’t go about praising the Lord. Probably more so in the Hollywood community than anywhere else. I just meant that it was not only acceptable, but actually commendable in that era to be seen as being a person of faith, whether you were or not. So I was a little surprised that the lyrics were changed from “our Lord allows” to “the fates allow”, when “the fates” might have struck many listeners of Christmas music at that time as inappropriate. The rest of your comment I agree with…

      I’m glad you found Great American Things! I hope you’ll bookmark it, maybe share a post or two with friends, and come back often. There’s a new GAT every day!

      Robin

  3. Yes, to be honest I don’t really understand why they changed it either. While I prefer to keep religion out of things generally and I think Christmas isn’t about Christ as much anymore, at Christmas time is one time I expect to hear it so for me personally it would not deter me from listening to a song or watching a movie.
    Also, I find it surprising they deleted it because they seem to add a religious element to a lot of movies!

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