Flashback Frank - Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem

Dec 23, 2021 at 08:00 am by Dalton Barrett

Good morning and merry Christmas from Flashback Frank of the

Rutherford County Historical Society!


My favorite Christmas song is an old gospel/Bluegrass song titled
‘Beautiful Star of Bethlehem’. I’m certain you’ve heard this song

hundreds of times and never realized the song’s connection with
Rutherford County.

Robert Fisher Boyce was born in the community of Link, located
between Christiana and Eagleville, in 1887. He loved music and was
singing solo and in quartets by the early 1900s.

In 1911, Boyce and his young bride – Cora Carlton - celebrated their
first wedding anniversary and saw Boyce’s song “Safe in His Love”

Boyce later traveled to Lawrenceburg, Tennessee to attend one of the
annual music schools conducted by the James D. Vaughan Publishing
Company. Vaughan was major publisher of what was known as
‘shape note hymnals’.

In 1940, the Vaughan Company published Boyce’s song “Beautiful Star
of Bethlehem.” The song was printed in the company’s songbook,
‘Beautiful Praise’.
Boyce wrote “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” while the family was living
on a dairy farm in the Plainview community, about two miles from

what is now the I-24 Buchanan Road Exit. Boyce’s son, the late
Franklin Boyce, recalled how his dad said he couldn’t concentrate in
the house because of noise made by the children. So Boyce walked
across the road to the barn to find the solitude he needed to write.

Boyce was a deacon at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church on the Manchester
Hwy. in the Buchannan community. Boyce would sing the lead part
and his wife would sing the harmony in her clear alto voice.

Ironically, the family has never received royalties from my favorite
Christmas 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 songwriters 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, insurance and nursery sales.

Oh Beautiful Star has been recorded several well-known artists
including The Judds, Patty Loveless, Bill and Gloria Gaither, The Speer,
The Oak Ridge Boys, Emmy Lou Harris, Rhonda Vincent, Daily and
Vincent, and, goodness, gracious – the list just goes on and on.

Enjoy this story and 2,000 other stories concerning Rutherford County
history by visiting www.rutherfordtnhistory.org

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