“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.
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.