A Merry Little Christmas Songwriter Is Dead at 96
Hugh Martin wrote the classic for the movie 'Meet Me in St. Louis'
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2011 3:21 PM CST

(Newser) – The man who wrote the holiday classic Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas is dead at 96. Hugh Martin gets a nice sendoff from Richard Corliss at Time, who recounts how the song—written in the 1940s for the film Meet Me in St. Louis—originally had more somber lyrics: "Have yourself a merry little Christmas. It may be your last. Next year we may all be living in the past ... "

Asked to lighten it up, Martin changed it to "Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light. Next year all our troubles will be out of sight ..." And the result "set the properly poignant tone for one of the loveliest, most longing of Christmas songs," writes Corliss. Martin was just 30 at the time and went on to have a long, successful career, but that song remains his "enduring work." (It's co-credited to Ralph Blane, but Martin later said it was entirely his own composition.)