SNL's Sandy Hook tribute

Dec 17, 2012 at 8:58 a.m. ET

Last weekend, Saturday Night Live showed some heart and still managed to bust guts. If you haven't seen it yet, grab tissues before you watch the clip.

cast of saturday night live

Saturday Night Live shed its usual comedic opening for something a lot more serious. Instead of opening with a presidential skit or a half-funny dialogue from Saturday's host, Martin Short, Saturday Night Live took a remarkable break from tradition and paid tribute to the victims of Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

When the stage filled with the tiny bodies of the New York Children's Chorus, viewers knew something different was about to happen. When the first notes of "Silent Night" rang out, they knew it would be special. It was the first time anyone could recall SNL straying from its comedic tradition, but Friday's events were certainly a worthy cause.

Not ones to let anything get the best of them, that was Saturday Night Live's one and only reference to Sandy Hook, and also the lowest moment of the show. The rest of the night was full of laughs — both of the scripted and unscripted variety. That included the cheerful and adorable end of the song.

A slew of SNL vets stopped by last weekend. Viewers saw cameos from Kristen Wiig, Jimmy Fallon, and Tiny Fey. Hollywood also was well-represented with Tom Hanks and Alec Baldwin. The second-most talked about event of the night came from a visitor from Hollywood, too, when actor Samuel L. Jackson (possibly) dropped the F-bomb on live television.

Just as the New York Children's Chorus helped tame spirits at the beginning of the show, it also lifted them later. The kids joined musical guest Paul McCartney for a rendition of "Wonderful Christmas Time."

Despite the tragic start to the weekend, Saturday Night Live delivered just the right amount of meaning and humor, ending up, once again, as the highlight of the weekend.

Image courtesy of NBC