Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

The year was 1944. World War II was raging, and the prospect of a Merry Christmas for many Americans was bleak.

Hugh Martin, not yet 30 years old, was collaborating on the music for Meet Me in St. Louis, Judy Garland's classic film. Hugh wrote a few bars for a Christmas song but in frustration gave up and threw it in the trash.

Later he retrieved it and tried again. When it was nearly complete he shared it with Judy Garland, who thought it was depressing and responded, "People would hate me if I sang such a sad song." After thinking about it for a while Hugh decided to compromise and revised the song.

The song now ended on a positive note—

"Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow." And, with a suggestion from Frank Sinatra, he added the line, "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough."

Sometime later Hugh was hospitalized in Birmingham, Alabama, and shared a room with an Adventist pastor by the name of William Lester who shared his faith about the real meaning of Christmas. Hugh gave his heart to the Christ of Christmas. Previously he had listened to the Voice of Prophecy and subsequently became a friend and accompanist for Del Delker at the Camarillo Adventist Church.

After becoming an Adventist he said he was no longer happy with the phrase, "if the fates allow." He changed the wording to "should the Lord allow" (a change that unfortunately is not included in most contemporary versions of the song).

But now the words appropriately read:

Through the years we all will be together,

Should the Lord allow,

Hang a shining star upon the highest bough,

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

This year as you listen to this popular song let it be a testimony to the fact that He who had the power to change lives 2,000 years ago has the same power today.

Merry Christmas from your friends at the North Pacific Union Conference.

Featured in: December 2008