BEAUTIFUL STAR OF BETHLEHEM                                         written in 1938

The Story

This Christmas song was written by the late R. Fisher Boyce (1887-1968) in a middle Tennessee milk barn in the early part of the 20th century.

Boyce loved music and was singing solo and in quartets by the early 1900s. In the spring of 1910, he married Cora Carlton; they would become the parents of 11 children, only five of whom lived to be adults. Only one daughter, Willie Ruth Eads, remains alive, and 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. My sister Nanny Lou (Taylor) would play, and we would sing way into the night.”

Boyce wrote “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” while the family was living on a dairy farm. He couldn’t concentrate in the house because of noise made by the children, so he walked across the road to the barn to find the solitude he needed to write.

Adger M. Pace (1882-1959) is sometimes listed as this song’s author. Beginning in 1920, he served for 37 years as Music Editor for all Vaughan publications, the company that published “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” (and never paid Mr. Boyce any royalties). Adger M. Pace arranged R. Fisher Boyce’s song for the Daniel Quartet and published the arrangement, taking credit variously as “Author” and “Harmonizer”, but it seems R. Fisher Boyce is the true author.

When I hear this song, I cannot help but think of an old quartet I heard growing up in Fox, Arkansas. Orville Johnson, Joe Ticer, and Carl Hinesley, and one of their wives (I can’t remember which one) from Bethlehem Baptist Church, sang this song every Christmas.

The Song

Read this Christmas hymn, and – today – imagine the glow of that Christmas star.

Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shining afar through shadows dim;
giving the light to those who long have gone (have gone).
Guiding the Wise Men on their way unto the place where Jesus lay;
beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on (shine on).

CHORUS
Oh Beautiful Star

(Beautiful, Beautiful Star)

of Bethlehem,

(Star of Bethlehem)
Shine upon us until the glory dawns (glory dawns).
Give us the light to light the way unto the land of perfect day;
beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on (shine on).

Beautiful Star, the hope of light, guiding the pilgrims through the night;
over the mountains ’til the break of dawn (of dawn)
Into the light of perfect day, it will give out a lovely ray;
beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on (shine on). (CHORUS)

Beautiful Star, the hope of rest, for the redeemed, the good and the blessed;
yonder in glory when the crown is won (is won).
Jesus is now that star divine, brighter and brighter He will shine;
beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on (shine on). (CHORUS)

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