"Saturday Night Live" opened with a children's choir performing "Silent Night" in memory of the 20 children and seven adults killed in the shooting spree in Newtown, Conn.
It was a moving, understated start to a packed "SNL" that featured a slew of guests, as well as Sir Paul McCartney performing again with the surviving members of Nirvana, as he did at Wednesday's Hurricane Sandy relief concert.
Samuel L. Jackson also dropped what sounded a lot like the F-word, though he denied it on Twitter. He did acknowledge saying "bulls---."
Rather than try to address Friday's mass shooting through host Martin Short's monologue -- or, somehow, some sort of hastily assembled sketch -- the show had the New York Children's Choir sing a song that seemed to reach out to the children killed the day before.
"Sleep in heavenly peace," the choir sang.
The show opened on a shot of a single candle.
After the opening, the episode quickly switched gears. Short performed a ribald song calling Christmas "the horniest time of the year." He roamed Studio 8H, running into fellow "SNL" alums Tina Fey, Kristen Wiig and Jimmy Fallon. Jackson and Tom Hanks also appeared. Short was accompanied by "Late Show" bandleader Paul Schaefer, who played on "SNL" for five years.
The first sketch of the night featured another guest: Alec Baldwin played Tony Bennett, with Short playing his little brother.
The show also announced that Jennifer Lawrence will host the show in January.
The apparent curse word came during the sketch "What Up With That." Jackson objected to being cut off by one of the sketch's many musical numbers, and said what sounded like "f---" and "bulls---." He said on Twitter that he had actually said "fuh."
"I only said FUH not F&*K! K was sposed to cut off da BULL%^&T, blew it!!" he wrote.
The show's Kenan Thompson ad-libbed, "Come on Sam ... that costs us money."