Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: Mastering Christmas Songs on the Piano and Keyboard


Check out our complete series on mastering Christmas songs on Piano and Keyboard.

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This guide will show you how to play simple arrangements of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas in C Major

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (C Major): Introduction

Here, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is written and played in the key of C Major, and has a 4/4 time signature.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: Main Melody

Here are the melody notes you need to play:

C E G C | G F E D C D | C E G C | G | E G C E | D C B A G F | E | |
C E G C | G F E D C D | C E G C | G | E G C E | F E D C B D | E | |
E E E D C | B C D C B | A B C B | B | C C C B A | G A B G A | B C D D | G
C E G C | G F E D C D | C E G C | G | E G C E | F E D C B D | E | E |
E F A C | E D C B A B | C |

Here’s the complete melody written out:

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas melody score

Download this as a PDF file

There are five distinct sections to the melody. The first eight bars are almost repeated in the second set of eight bars, with a slight variation in bars 14 and 15.

This is followed by a middle section of eight bars, then eight bars that echo the second phrase.

The final four bars close the song.

Take a look at the melody and you’ll see it’s comprised of many runs of arpeggios (broken chords) and descending scales. For example, bar one is an ascending C major arpeggio starting on the root and moving to E, G and the C octave. This is followed by bar two which is a run of five notes descending in the scale of C major from the fifth note (G) to the root (C).

In bar 5 you’ll see a C major arpeggio starting on the major 3rd note (E) and rising to G, C and the E octave. Bars 6 and 7 feature a seven note descending C major scale starting on the second note (D) and going down to the lower E.

Interestingly, at the start of the final phrase (last line, bar 33) there’s a rising F major arpeggio.

If you listen to the recording below it may sound a little regimented. This is because it’s played exactly as the musical notation dictates. Feel free to alter the timing of the notes to adapt it to the timing you like, adding your own performance nuances.

Here’s what it sounds like:

Download MIDI
Download MP3

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (C Major): Single Note Bass Line

Below is a simple bass line for the song using just one note at a time. Most of the time you simply play two half notes (minims) per bar.

Here’s the printed music:

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas bass line score

Download this as a PDF file

And here’s what it sounds like:

Download MIDI
Download MP3

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (C Major): Bass Line and Chords

Here’s a full-blown version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas with right-hand chords. This version really brings out some of the wonderful harmonies in the piece.

Note that the bass line has been altered a little from the previous example.

There are quite a few chord changes particularly on the third line. Do make an effort to play them, practicing the transition between them, as it really is worth it.

Here’s the printed music:

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas chords music arrangement

Download this as a PDF file

And here’s what it sounds like:

Download MIDI
Download MP3

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (C Major): Lead Sheet (Simplified)

Sometimes you need a compact sheet of music with just the basics on. Here we have provided a lead sheet, containing the melody, chords, and two sets of lyrics.

The chords are in simplified root positions throughout, making it much easier to play. That said, feel free to embellish with additional chord ‘coloring’ (sevenths work particularly well) and also don’t forget about chord inversions to make them easier to play. Take a look at our major and minor chord primer to see the different inversions for each major and minor chord.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas lead sheet

Download this as a PDF file

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas in F# Major

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (F# Major): Introduction

Here, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas is written and played in the key of F# Major, and has a 4/4 time signature. This is the same key as the original version by Judy Garland, in the 1944 film Meet Me in St. Louis.

The melody notes are written here so as to sit predominantly in the normal treble clef staff range. However, you may feel this makes the notes sound too high. It’s acceptable to play the whole melody one octave lower, shifting the bass notes down accordingly as well.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas: Main Melody

Here are the melody notes you need to play. Note that ‘F’ is written for ease of reading, though theoretically in the key of F# major, this should be notated as E#.

F# A# C# F# | C# B A# G# F# G# | F# A# C# F# | C# | A# C# F# A# | G# F# F D# C# B | A# | |
F# A# C# F# | C# B A# G# F# G# | F# A# C# F# | C# | A# C# F# A# | B A# G# F# F G# | A# | |
A# A# A# G# F# | F F# G# F# F | D# F F# F | F | F# F# F# F D# | C# D# F C# D# | F F# G# G# | C#
F# A# C# F# | C# B A# G# F# G# | F# A# C# F# | C# | A# C# F# A# | B A# G# F# F G# | A# | A# |
A# B D# F# | A# G# F# F D# F | F# | |

Here’s the complete melody written out:

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas melody score

Download this as a PDF file

There are five distinct sections to the melody. The first eight bars are almost repeated in the second set of eight bars, with a slight variation in bars 14 and 15.

This is followed by a middle section of eight bars, then eight bars that echo the second phrase.

The final four bars close the song.

Take a look at the melody and you’ll see it’s comprised of many runs of arpeggios (broken chords) and descending scales. For example, bar one is an ascending F# major arpeggio starting on the root and moving to A#, C# and the F# octave. This is followed by bar two which is a run of five notes descending in the scale of F# major from the fifth note (C#) to the root (F#).

In bar 5 you’ll see an F# major arpeggio starting on the major 3rd note (A#) and rising to C#, F# and the A# octave. Bars 6 and 7 feature a seven note descending F# major scale starting on the second note (G#) and going down to the lower A#.

Interestingly, at the start of the final phrase (last line, bar 33) there’s a rising B major arpeggio.

If you listen to the recording below it may sound a little regimented. This is because it’s played exactly as the musical notation dictates. Feel free to alter the timing of the notes to adapt it to the timing you like, adding your own performance nuances.

Here’s what it sounds like:

Download MIDI
Download MP3

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (F# Major): Single Note Bass Line

Below is a simple bass line for the song using just one note at a time. Most of the time you simply play two half notes (minims) per bar.

Here’s the printed music:

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas bass line score

Download this as a PDF file

And here’s what it sounds like:

Download MIDI
Download MP3

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (F# Major): Bass Line and Chords

Here’s a full-blown version of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas with right-hand chords. This version really brings out some of the wonderful harmonies in the piece.

Note that the bass line has been altered a little from the previous example.

There are quite a few chord changes particularly on the third line. Do make an effort to play them, practicing the transition between them, as it really is worth it.

Here’s the printed music:

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas chords music arrangement

Download this as a PDF file

And here’s what it sounds like:

Download MIDI
Download MP3

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (F Sharp Major): Lead Sheet (Simplified)

Sometimes you need a compact sheet of music with just the basics on. Here we have provided a lead sheet, containing the melody, chords, and two sets of lyrics.

The chords are in simplified root positions throughout, making it much easier to play. That said, feel free to embellish with additional chord ‘coloring’ (sevenths work particularly well) and also don’t forget about chord inversions to make them easier to play. Take a look at our major and minor chord primer to see the different inversions for each major and minor chord.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas lead sheet

Download this as a PDF file

We hope you found this guide useful. Feel free to leave comments below if you have any questions or suggestions.

Check out our complete series on mastering Christmas songs on Piano and Keyboard.