Fate and Switch

The original lyrics to “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” were darker and more brooding than the ones we know today. I remember reading about it in Entertainment Weekly several years ago. The song was written for the musical “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

Judy Garland asked songwriter Hugh Martin to change the line “Have yourself a merry little Christmas; it may be your last; next year we may all be living in the past.” He changed it to “Have yourself a merry little Christmas; let your heart be light; next year all our troubles will be out of sight.” Another depressing original line was “Faithful friends who were dear to us; will be near to us no more.”

Thirteen years after the movie was released, Frank Sinatra recorded the song for a Christmas album. But he first asked Martin to change the line “Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow.” The revised lyric is “Hang a shining star upon the highest bough.”

When I heard Natalee McReynolds sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” during this year’s Knoxville Symphony Orchestra Clayton Holiday Concert, I thought I was hearing yet another revision to the lyrics. She sang “Someday soon we all will be together; if the Lord allows.” Almost every recording of the song has the line “If the fates allow” instead of “if the Lord allows.”

The Wikipedia entry for the song mentions that the Lord was in the original lyrics Martin wrote. The religious reference was replaced with “the fates” for the movie version. Some contemporary Christian singers have recorded the song and put the Lord back in to “a Little Christmas.”

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