"Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" ~ the Story and the Song

If you do not read my other blog, click HERE see what this is all about. :) 

It has came to my attention that many of my blogger friends are not familiar with one of my favorite Christmas songs, "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem". If you are one of them, this is for you. ;) 
When looking up the lyrics to this song online, I realized that they're not exactly the same as we sing at church. So below is the words to this song from our church hymnal. ;-) 

"Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem"

Verse one:
Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem
Shining afar through shadows dim
Giving a light for those who long have gone (have gone) 
And guiding the wise men on their way
Unto the place where Jesus lay
Beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on (shine on) 

**Oh beautiful star (beautiful, beautiful star) of Bethlehem (star of Bethlehem)
Shine upon us until the glory dawn (glory dawn) 
Oh Give us thy light to light the way
Into the land of perfect day
Beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on (shine on) 

Verse two: 
Oh beautiful star the hope of light
Guiding the pilgrims through the night
Over the mountains 'till the break of dawn (the dawn) 
And Into the land of perfect day
It will give out a lovely ray
beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on (shine on) 


Verse three:
Oh beautiful star the hope of rest 
For the redeemed the good and the blest 
Yonder in glory when the crown is won (is won) 

For Jesus is now that Star divine
Brighter and brighter He will shine
Oh beautiful star of Bethlehem shine on (shine on) 


~ The Story Behind the Song ~ 
Few people today realize the popular Christmas song “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” was written by the late R. Fisher Boyce in a Middle Tennessee milk barn in the early part of the 20th century. It would go on to become a seasonal standard performed by a variety of artists, and it would eventually be sung in the White House by The Judds during a nationally televised Bob Hope Christmas special.
Boyce was born in the tiny community of Link, located in southern Rutherford County, in November 1887. The third of six children, Boyce loved music and was singing solo and in quartets by the early 1900s. In the spring of 1910, he married Cora Carlton from the Rockvale community. They would become the parents of 11 children, five of whom lived to be adults. Only one daughter, Willie Ruth Eads, remains alive. Eads remembers singing as a great source of entertainment for their family.
"The neighbors would come in, and we'd all gather around our family piano," Boyce's daughter said. "My sister Nanny Lou (Taylor) would play, and we would sing way into the night."
In 1940, the Vaughan Company published Boyce's song "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem." The song was printed in the company's song-book, Beautiful Praise. Later, the song would be republished in Vaughan's Favorite Radio Songs.
Boyce wrote “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” while the family was living on a dairy farm in the Plainview community, about two or three miles from what is now the Interstate 24 Buchanan Road Exit. The songwriter’s son, the late Franklin Boyce, recalled in a 1996 interview that his dad said he couldn't concentrate in the house because of noise made by the children. He walked across the road to the barn to find the solitude he needed to write.
“My father said the song was inspired by the Lord. Otherwise, how could he, a simple country man, ever write a song about such a glorious event in world history?” Franklin Boyce asked.
When searching through some old papers, the family found a yellowed article clipped from The Daily News Journal, a newspaper in Murfreesboro. It had been written in the early 1960s. A story by Marie Chapman recounts the elder Boyce's recollection of how the song came to be written.
"I got up one Sunday morning to write it down,” Boyce recalled. When his train of thought was interrupted by a member of the family who entered the room singing, he moved his pencil and pad to the barn, and there "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" was put on paper.
“The words and melody got on my mind," Boyce told Chapman, "till I could hardly sleep at night." The humble farmer said he looked upon both the words and tune as gifts from God.
Dean Boyce, Franklin's wife, remembers how her late sister-in-law, Nanny Lou, talked about helping her father put down the music for the song. "I believe,” she said, “they worked all morning on the music at the piano, and it rained hard all the time they were working on it.”
Nell McKee, a retired educator who lives in the Buchanan area, attended Mt. Carmel Baptist Church where Boyce was a deacon and song leader when the song was written. Now in her 90s, McKee still attends the same church and recalls that Boyce would sing the lead part and his wife would sing the harmony in her clear alto voice.
"Fisher and Cora would sometimes sing the song at church," McKee remembers. "Cora would weep every time they sang together. She was very proud of her husband for writing that song."
Ironically, the family has never received royalties from the song. As was commonplace during that time in history, the legal copyright became the property of the company that published the material. As a rule, the song-writers were paid a one-time fee. To make a living, Boyce taught private voice lessons and worked at a variety of jobs including dairy farming and insurance and nursery sales
During his later years, Boyce and his wife moved into town where he and a nephew, M. B. Carlton, were partners in the Ideal Fruit Market on West College Street. There, Boyce sold single copies of the song for a small amount of money.
Although he is often overlooked, Boyce is an important part of Tennessee’s musical history. Wolfe said, “With the exception of Uncle Dave Macon’s music, Boyce's song is the most important musical composition to come out of Rutherford County.”
According to family members, music was a part of Boyce’s life until his last breath. Shortly before his passing in October 1968, as his family gathered around his bed, Boyce “raised his arm and started beating out time, like he was leading a song. Daddy was singing ‘Meet Me There’ just before he died,” Eads remembers.
During this holiday season, the saga of a simple man and his music will shine on wherever “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” is sung. ***

***I borrowed the above story from HERE. Anywhere that I tweaked it or removed something that I felt did not apply here, is marked by "....."

If you'd like to listen to this song (it's so beautiful and totally worth your time! :D), I suggest the following video. It's the cloest I could find to the way we sing it. ;) 

Thanks for reading! Have a blessed day! 
Sisters in Christ, 


  1. I've heard this song before too! It's great. :)
    I never knew the story behind it though. It was really fun learning about this song.

    1. Isn't it beautiful? :D It's probably my favorite Christmas song.
      I never knew about that either, until researching it for this. ;)
      Thanks for commenting, Rebekah! :)


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