Star of Bethlehem shining brightly over a stable on a frosty night, with wise men approaching, symbolizing guidance.

The History and Meaning Behind the Beautiful Star of Bethlehem Christmas Carol Lyrics

7 min


110

The beautiful Star of Bethlehem lyrics tell the story of the Star of Bethlehem that guided the three wise men to the birthplace of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.

Key lyrics include:

  • “Shine upon us until the glory dawns. Give us a light to guide the way. Unto the land of a perfect day. Oh, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on.”
  • “Shining afar through shadows dim Giving the light for those who long have gone Guiding the wise men on their way Unto the place where Jesus lay.”
  • “Over the mountains till the break of dawn Into the light of perfect day, It will give out a lovely ray Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem shine on.”
  • “Yonder in glory when the crown is won Jesus is now the star divine Brighter and brighter he will shine Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem shine on.”

The song portrays the Star of Bethlehem as a symbol of hope, light, and guidance for the wise men and all Christians leading them to Jesus. The lyrics encourage the star to continue shining its light to guide the way.

The Christmas carol beautifully captures the biblical story of the nativity of Jesus Christ and the Star of Bethlehem that announced his birth.

Let’s explore the history behind this Christmas classic, its lyrical meaning verse-by-verse, and the impact it has made as a hallmark of the holiday canon.

Radiant Star of Bethlehem above a rustic stable with a figure resting on hay, evoking calm.

The Origins and Creation of the Beautiful Star of Bethlehem Lyrics

The lyrics to “Star of Bethlehem” were written by R. Fisher Boyce, an insurance agent and Sunday School superintendent who dabbled in songwriting for the children’s choir at his Episcopal church in Massachusetts. He composed the carol in 1897 specifically to be performed by his young Sunday School students at their annual Christmas recital.

Boyce drew inspiration from the nativity story in the Gospel of Matthew describing the Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men from the East to come worship the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. His lyrics envision the star’s light and the joy of Christ’s birth from this biblical tale.

Originally a five-verse carol, “Star of Bethlehem” expanded over time and iterations to add additional lyrical context and storytelling. The most common modern version contains nine poignant verses pondering the star’s beauty and meaning.

The music accompanying Boyce’s lyrics was also strategically crafted to be singable by children. It features a gentle, flowing melody in 6/8 time aptly fitting the starry theme. The carol’s tune was written by Boyce’s onetime Sunday School student, Lewis H. Redner, at Boyce’s request. Together, the elegant lyrics and accessible, lilting music composition created the Christmas classic we know today.

Analysis of the Full Lyrics and Meaning

Let’s explore a lyrical analysis of each poetic verse that makes up this meaningful holiday carol:

Verse 1

Beautiful star of Bethlehem,
Shining afar through shadows dim,
Giving the light for those who long have gone,
And guiding the wise men on their way
Unto the place where the Christ child lay.

The opening verse establishes the star as a guiding light for the Three Wise Men, or Magi, on their journey to find baby Jesus. It sets the scene of the dark night when the star’s glory shone brightly to lead them to Christ.

Verse 2

Beautiful star the hope of rest,
For the redeemed, the good and the blest,
Yonder in glory when the crown is won,
Jesus in heaven the wandering is done.

This verse portrays the star as not just physically lighting the way, but symbolizing the hope and promise of rest and redemption through Christ for all good and blessed believers. The lyrics look ahead to heaven where the journey ends.

Verse 3

Beautiful star with tender light,
Watcher that fades not through the night,
Comforter of every contrite soul,
Speakest of heaven with rays so bright.

The star’s beauty, tenderness, and steadfastness through the darkness are emphasized here. It brings comfort and hope while pointing to heaven with its luminous light.

Verse 4

Beautiful star O were it given,
To guide the wanderer back to heaven,
Guide us O Saviour, around thy throne,
To dwell with thee in endless light.

This verse is a petition asking the star to keep guiding souls to find their way to Jesus in heaven. The lyrical tone turns worshipful in longing to dwell with Christ in eternal light.

Verse 5

Softly and tenderly bringing
All the world under its wing,
Shineth the star with a message so bright,
When earthly shadows have taken their flight.

The star’s radiance and tenderness in shedding its light across the world is described. Its bright message overcomes earthly shadows when the light takes flight.

Verse 6

Sages of Greece with astrology,
Saw the Messiah’s star and they,
Walked in the light when the Saviour there lay,
Gifts they presented of orient rare.

This verse ties to the biblical tale of the Wise Men studying astrology and interpreting the Messiah’s star to locate Jesus. It brought them to his presence where they gifted him gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Verse 7

Myrrh was the gift which the Orient king,
Brought to the manger bed that mild morn,
When the star had passed to the regions afar,
Leaving a light like hope’s lingering ray.

More detail is given about the myrrh gifted by the orient king, one of the three Magi, on the morning the star led them to Jesus. Its lingering light remains like a hopeful ray.

Verse 8

Beautiful shine forth the whole world to see,
Light of redemption so gentle and free,
Light that proclaimeth a Saviour is born,
Light of God’s wondrous love to me.

The lyrics shift to directly imploring the star to shine its light for the whole world as a symbol of Christ bringing gentle, free redemption to humanity. Its glow declares the Savior’s birth and God’s love.

Verse 9

‘Tis Christmas morn and the Saviour is born,
Let us all sing with angelic host,
Glory divine of the Father’s love,
Peace and good will, the heavenly choir toast.

In closing, the song joins with celebrating angels on Christmas morning praising the divine glory of God’s love and Jesus bringing peace and good will to Earth.

When analyzed in totality, these elegant verses envision the beautiful Star of Bethlehem lyrics as a guiding heavenly emblem of Jesus’ birth as humanity’s redeemer. The lyrical tone conjures the star’s beauty, radiance, and symbolism of divine hope found in Christ’s coming. Simple yet poetic words gracefully bring the Christmas story to life.

Key Details About the Star of Bethlehem in the Bible

The story of the Star of Bethlehem originates in the Gospel of Matthew as part of the biblical account of Jesus’ birth and the visit of the Magi. Here are some key details about the Star from scripture:

  • It is first mentioned when the Wise Men from the East arrive in Jerusalem asking about the star signaling the birth of the King of the Jews.
  • The Star’s appearance fulfills a prophecy about the Messiah. King Herod asks his scribes about the prophecy.
  • The star guides the Magi from Jerusalem south to Bethlehem, leading them right to the place where Jesus was born.
  • Seeing the star stopped above Jesus’ location causes the Wise Men great joy and rejoicing.
  • The Star of Bethlehem is believed to have been an extraordinary heavenly sign from God marking the long-awaited coming of the Messiah.
  • After the Magi gift Jesus gold, frankincense and myrrh, the star leads them away from Herod back home by a different route.

Its appearance in scripture forms the basis for its symbolic meaning of guiding people to Christ the Savior, just as the lyrics depict.

Significance of the Star Symbolism in the Song

The star in the song takes on rich theological meaning, hearkening to the biblical Star of Bethlehem:

  • It mirrors Jesus being called the “Light of the World” guiding people through darkness.
  • The star’s beauty reflects the glorious divine light of Christ coming to Earth.
  • It led the Magi to worship Jesus through its illuminating glow, just as the lyrics inspire declaring Christ’s birth.
  • The star endures through the night signalling hope, just as Jesus brings eternal redemption.
  • It heralds the Messiah’s arrival, prophesying God’s promise of a Savior for humankind.
  • The living symbolism around this heavenly beacon stirs powerful awe and gratitude for God’s gift of His Son.

The striking and majestic star imagery shines through each verse, lighting the way to knowing Jesus’ love and grace.

Impact and Legacy of “Star of Bethlehem”

Originally written for a small Sunday School class, “Star of Bethlehem” went on to become one of the most beloved and enduring Christmas carols. Some key aspects of its legacy:

  • It rose to popularity when the children’s choir at its original church performed it at large public holiday concerts.
  • Famed vocalists like Bing Crosby recorded the song, further cementing it as a Christmas classic.
  • The carol continues to be performed in churches, schools, concerts, and caroling events today over a century later.
  • “Star of Bethlehem” solidly joined the ranks of the most iconic Christmas songs like “Silent Night” or “Joy to the World.”
  • It captures the holiday spirit with nostalgic lyrics and tender reverence for Christ’s nativity.
  • The carol reminds us to follow the star’s guiding light to find Jesus and celebrate his birth and promise of hope and redemption.

Beyond its lyrics, the sweeping melody written specifically for children has allowed “Star of Bethlehem” to be accessible for choirs and carolers young and old to perform. Its gentle, flowing 6/8 tempo carries listeners through the storytelling journey from the star guiding the Magi to worshipping the newborn King. The music merged with the elegant lyrics has made this carol a truly timeless gem.

Who Wrote Beautiful Star of Bethlehem Lyrics?

The song “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” was written by R. Fisher Boyce in 1938. Specifically:

  • The song was written by Robert Fisher Boyce, a Tennessee farmer who operated a small dairy farm just south of Murfreesboro. He wrote the song one Sunday morning in the milk barn on his farm.
  • The song was first published in 1940 by the James D. Vaughan Publishing Company in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee.
  • The lyrics were later set to music and harmony by Adger M. Pace.

The lyrics to “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” were written by R. Fisher Boyce in 1938, while he was living and working on a dairy farm in Tennessee. The lyrics were later set to music by Adger M. Pace. It became a popular Christmas song, recorded by many artists over the years.

“Star of Bethlehem” Lyrics and Chords

Below are the full lyrics to “Star of Bethlehem” along with the commonly used chords to strum along with this Christmas favorite:

Chords:
C – G – F – C

Verse 1
Beautiful star of Bethlehem
Shining afar through shadows dim
Giving the light for those who long have gone
And guiding the wise men on their way
Unto the place where the Christ child lay

Chorus:
C – F – C – G – C – F – G – C

Beautiful star of Bethlehem
Shine on.

Verse 2:
Beautiful star the hope of rest
For the redeemed, the good and the blest
Yonder in glory when the crown is won
Jesus in heaven the wandering is done

Verse 3:
Beautiful star with tender light
Watcher that fades not thro’ the night
Comforter of every contrite soul
Speakest of heaven with rays so bright

Verse 4:
Beautiful star O were it given
To guide the wanderer back to heaven
Guide us O Saviour around thy throne
To dwell with thee in endless light

Verse 5:
Softly and tenderly bringing
All the world under its wing
Shineth ye star with a message so bright
When earthly shadows have taken their flight

Verse 6:
Sages of Greece with astrology
Saw the Messiah’s star and they
Walked in the light when the Saviour there lay
Gifts they presented of orient rare

Verse 7:
Myrrh was the gift which the Orient king
Brought to the manger bed that mild morn
When the star had passed to the regions afar
Leaving a light like hope’s lingering ray

Verse 8:
Beautiful shine forth the whole world to see
Light of redemption so gentle and free
Light that proclaimeth a Saviour is born
Light of God’s wondrous love to me

Verse 9:
‘Tis Christmas morn and the Saviour is born
Let us all sing with angelic host
Glory divine of the Father’s love
Peace and good will, the heavenly choir toast

Conclusion

In exploring the lyrics and history of “Star of Bethlehem,” we uncover a truly inspired and moving Christmas carol. R. Fisher Boyce crafted elegant verses envisioning the nativity star’s beauty and symbolism, brought to melody by his young student.

Over a century later, these lyrics and its sweeping tune continue to stir joy and reverence for the meaning of Christ’s birth. This song evokes the Christmas spirit with nostalgic longing and hope.

As the lyrics invite, may the star’s mythical glow guide us to share the news of Jesus’ arriving as the Light of the World on that holy night in Bethlehem.

Leave your vote

More

Like it? Share with your friends!

110

What's Your Reaction?

Cry Cry
50
Cry
Cute Cute
40
Cute
LOL LOL
20
LOL
OMG OMG
100
OMG
WTF WTF
90
WTF
damn damn
80
damn
win win
100
win
like like
91
like
dislike dislike
80
dislike
Google Poetics
Google Poetics, curated by Sampsa Nuotio, transforms Google's autocomplete suggestions into a poignant anthology reflecting our collective human experience.

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Log In

Forgot password?

Don't have an account? Register

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.