Have Yourself at Merry Little Christmas is a Christmas song performed for the first time byJudy GarlandinMGM’smusical film, The Song of Missouri (1944). It was written by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. Frank Sinatralater recorded a version with modified lyrics, which became better known than the original.

Missouri Song

The song was written while Hugh Martin was on vacation at a house in the Southside neighborhood of Birmingham , Ala. , Which his father had designed for his mother. Located at 1919 15 South Avenue, the house became Martin’s home and family in 1923. She appeared in a scene from the movie The Song of Missouri , in which a family was upset following the announcement made by the father who, after a promotion, is forced to leave for New York , leaving behind their beloved home in St. Louis , Missouri , just before the much anticipated 1904 World’s Fair. In a scene that takes place on Christmas Eve, Esther, the character played by Judy Garland , sings the song to cheer up her sister Tootie, played by Margaret O’Brien 1 , 2 .

Martin’s original lyrics were rejected by Judy Garland, Tom Drake and director Vincente Minnelli, who considered them too depressing. They were: “Have you got a little Christmas / It may be your last / Next year we’re living in the past / Have you got a little Christmas / Pop that champagne cork / Next year we may be living in New York “. Although he resisted, Martin finally made several changes in the lyrics to make the song more optimistic 3 .

The version recorded by Judy Garland and was released by Decca Records , became popular among American troops serving in the Second World War 4 .

The song was ranked in the 76 th place of AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Songs .

Takeover by Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra recorded in 1950 this title in a version close to that of Judy Garland. He will do it again in 1963.

In 1957 , he asked Hugh Martin to revise a few more words. The latter runs and makes several other changes, reorienting the song towards the celebration of happiness present rather than anticipating a better future.

Other times and new versions

The song will be repeated by many artists becoming a Christmas standard. According to the versions, the versions of Judy Garland or Frank Sinatra are rather put with still some text retouches sometimes.

The title has appeared on the albums of; Jackie Gleason (1956), Connie Francis (1959), Ella Fitzgerald ( Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas in 1960), Doris Day ( The Doris Christmas Day Album in 1964), The Jackson Five ( The Jackson 5 Christmas Album in 1970), The Pretenders ( A Very Special Christmas in 1987), Luther Vandross ( This Is Christmas in 1995), Christina Aguilera ( My Kind of Christmas in 2000), Toni Braxton ( Snowflakesin 2001), James Taylor ( October Road in 2002), Whitney Houston ( One Wish, The Holiday Album in 2003), LeAnn Rhymes ( What A Wonderful World in 2004), Diana Krall ( Christmas Songs in 2005), Jessica Simpson ( Happy Christmas in 2010), Kurt Nilsen ( Have Yourself to Merry Little Christmas in 2010), Michael Bublé ( Christmas in 2011), She and Him ( A Very She and Him Christmas in 2011), Marina and the Diamonds(2012), Glee ( Glee: The Music, The Christmas Album Volume 3 in 2012) 3 , Anthony Callea ( This Is Christmas in 2013), Jewel ( Let It Snow: A Holiday Collection in 2013), Kelly Clarkson ( Wrapped In Red in 2013), Kim Wilde ( Wilde Winter Songbook in 2013), Mary J. Blige ( A Mary Christmas in 2013), Susan Boyle ( Home for Christmas in 2013), Tamar Braxton ( Winter Loverslandin 2013). It has also been used as a third single by the duo The Girl and the Dreamcatcher, composed of Dove Cameron and Ryan McCartan (2015).

In 2001, the 86-year-old composer Hugh Martin, active from time to time as a religious pianist, rewrote a complete set of lyrics for the song with John Fricke; “Have Yourself a Blessed Little Christmas” which is a religious version of this lay standard. The song is recorded by gospel singer Del Delker, accompanied by Martin on piano 5 .

Monica Forsberg is the author of the Swedish version of the song, “Det är att dags Tända alla ljusen” (“It’s time to light all the candles”), which was recorded by Lasse Berghagen . Claudio Baglioni wrote and recorded the title in his Italian version: “A piccolo Natale in più” (“A little more Christmas”), published in November 2012 6 .

The title is used in the movie Monuments Men (2014), whose plot takes place at the end of World War II.


  1. ↑ http://www.cineclubdecaen.com/realisat/minnelli/chantdumissouri.htm  [ archive ]
  2. ↑ Tim Dirks , ” Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) ”  [ archive ] , The Greatest Films , (accessed December 21, 2007 )
  3. ↑ a and b Chris Willman , ” There’s Something About Merry “, Entertainment Weekly , ( read online  [ archive ] )
  4. ↑ ( in ) Ace Collins , Stories Behind the Best-Loved Songs of Christmas , Grand Rapids, Mich., Zondervan,, 78-79 p. ( ISBN  0-310-23926-5 )
  5. ↑ ” The Carpenter and the King ”  [ archive ] , The Voice of Prophesy (accessed December 21, 2007 )
  6. ↑ http://www.music-story.com/claudio-baglioni/un-piccolo-natale-in-piu  [ archive ]