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Billie Eilish's Stripped-Down "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" is Enchanting

The singer covered the tune on Saturday Night Live alongside her brother Finneas on piano.

By Jackie Manno

When Billie Eilish was on Saturday Night Live on December 16, she performed a gorgeous rendition of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that will send chills down your spine. 

How to Watch

Watch Saturday Night Live Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC and next day on Peacock.  

During her cover of the Christmas classic, Eilish sang in a perfectly controlled tone, accompanied by a stand-up bass and simple jazz piano notes played by her brother and collaborator, Finneas. The festive performance was the Eilish's second as musical guest on the 2023 SNL Christmas episode hosted by Kate McKinnon (Eilish also joined McKinnon for a new "Whiskers R We" sketch, plus a musical sketch co-starring Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig). 

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Billie Eilish smiles on the red carpet at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party

What to know about "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

Originally written for the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis and sung by Judy Garland, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" was composed by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. In the film, the song takes place when Garland's character, Esther, sings it to her little sister in order to cheer her up after learning the news that their family is moving to a new state. 

According to Entertainment Weekly, Garland suggested that Martin change the lyrics to the originally penned version of the song before filming to make them more lighthearted, creating the classic tune we all know today. 

"The movie is about hope and dreams, and there's gotta be some hope in the song.' My feeling is that Christmastime is about your past, and there comes a time when it does become sentimental, just because you start remembering, and people will always miss somebody at Christmas," Liza Minelli, Judy Garland's daughter, told the outlet in 2006. 

Billie Eilish on Saturday Night Live episode 1852

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" has since been covered by John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Josh Groban, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Bette Midler, James Taylor Fifth Harmony, Phoebe Bridgers, and more. Frank Sinatra's 1957 version changed the lyrics to "Until then we'll have to muddle through somehow" to "Hang a shining star upon the highest bough." 

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"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" lyrics

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your heart be light
Next year all our troubles, will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
Next year all our troubles, will be miles away

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
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough 
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now