Written by both Sheeran and John and produced by Steve Mac, the collaboration is the first time the two have worked together on a song together, despite being friends for the last decade.
The pair’s global record and publishing royalties from the track, as well as its sales, will be donated equally between the Ed Sheeran Suffolk Music Foundation and The Elton John AIDS Foundation.
You can watch the Jason Koenig-directed accompanying official video below, which features Mr Blobby, Jonathan Ross, Big Narstie, Michael McIntyre and The Darkness, as the cast recreate scenes from classic Christmas videos including Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’; Shakin’ Stevens’ ‘Merry Christmas’; The Snowman’s ‘Walking in the Air’; East 17’s ‘Stay Another Day’ and more.
The single was initially announced by Sheeran in an interview with Dutch radio station NPO Radio 2.
“Elton rang me on Christmas Day to say Merry Christmas. Elton rings me almost every single day,” Sheeran said. “He said, ‘’Step Into Christmas’ is Number 6 in the charts! I want to do another Christmas song – will you do it with me?’”
Of what to expect from the song, Sheeran added: “It’s just me and him. It’s great.”
In a video inspired by Love Actually, Sheeran added on social media: “Last Christmas I received a call from my mate Elton John and he told me we should do a Christmas song, and I replied ‘Yeah maybe in 2022’, but I actually wrote the chorus that day and here we are.
“Our Christmas song Merry Christmas is out this Friday (December 3). It has sleigh bells… a lot of them.”
Speaking to NME about new music in a recent Big Read feature, John said: “I just think: I know all the old stuff; I love the new stuff. It’s the future I’m interested in. I’m not interested in the past – not even Elton John’s past.
“I know I have to sing what I do onstage but I very, very rarely go back and listen to my own records. I’m more interested in hearing something new.”