Rewriting the Lyrics

One of my favorite non- religious holiday songs is Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.  I heard it again on the radio the other day and was struck by the line:

"Let your heart be light. Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.”

I thought:  what an appropriate sentiment for this difficult year now ending, and our hopes for 2021. Next year our troubles will be miles away.

I did a little research and discovered that there are two different sets of lyrics to this Christmas classic.

The original, sung by Judy Garland in the 1944 movie, “Meet Me in St. Louis”--

"Once again as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore,
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Will be near to us once more.
Someday soon we all will be together, if the fates allow
Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow.”

Frank Sinatra recorded it in 1957 for his album, A Jolly Christmas, and insisted that the song be made more positive, and....jolly.

"From now on, our troubles will be out of sight....
faithful friends who are dear to us, gather near to us once more.
Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough."

Sinatra's version is a celebration, in the present, whereas Garland is expressing only a hope for a better future. And that was very appropriate for the dark days of World War II. There's no "just muddling through" for Frank, though, once the 1950's were in full swing.

A simple re-write of the lyrics changed the meaning entirely.

Maybe we can do that with the lyrics of our life. To take the circumstances that have come our way and decide to see the hand and presence of God in it all. To be positive when others around us are in despair. As Victor Frankl reminds us in Man's Search for Meaning, the last great freedom that we humans possess is the freedom to choose our response in any given situation. For the Christian, that's realism mingled with a healthy dose of faith.

This Christmas I am choosing joy!  Despite everything, God is on His throne and I am nestled safely in His hand. The angel said it, and I believe it-- the incarnation of Christ brings "good tidings of great joy.”

One more thing about the song--

Judy Garland's rendition wasn't really the first, either.  The song writer was a Christian man and he wanted this line but it was rejected by the studio:

“Someday soon we all will be together,
     If the LORD allows..."

And -- "So have yourself a blessed little Christmas now.”

This cold December, don't let anyone change the way you choose to sing your song. With your words-- your faith.

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