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“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” is a song written in 1943 by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane and introduced by Judy Garland in the 1944 MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis. Frank Sinatra later recorded a version with modified lyrics. In 2007, ASCAP ranked it the third most performed Christmas song during the preceding five years that had been written by ASCAP members.
In 2004 it finished at No. 76 in AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs rankings of the top tunes in American cinema.
Meet Me in St. Louis
The song was written in 1943 for the then-upcoming film Meet Me in St. Louis, for which MGM had hired Martin and Blane to write several songs. Martin was vacationing in a house in the neighborhood of Southside in Birmingham, Alabama that his father Hugh Martin had designed for his mother as a honeymoon cottage, located just down the street from his birthplace, and which later became the home of Martin and his family in 1923. The song first appeared in a scene in which a family is distraught by the father’s plans to move to New York City for a job promotion, leaving behind their beloved home in St. Louis, Missouri, just before the long-anticipated 1904 World’s Fair begins. In a scene set on Christmas Eve, Judy Garland’s character, Esther, sings the song to cheer up her despondent five-year-old sister, Tootie, played by Margaret O’Brien.