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How to make Psalter Stars

Join us in making these quick and easy Christmas decorations inspired by the 600-year-old Bury Psalter.

The Bury Psalter is a book of psalms made at the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, probably between 1398 and 1415. It is quite a large book, and a group of monks would have gathered around it to sing psalms together.

The Psalter includes several illuminated letters which are highly decorated, particularly in red, blue, and gold. These simple Christmas decorations are inspired by these colours and the intricate patterns seen in these illuminations.

You will need:

  • Coloured card (we suggest red or blue)
  • Scissors
  • A ruler
  • A compass
  • A pencil
  • A gold pen
  • Thread
  • Sticky tape

Watch our video for quick and easy instructions on how to make these simple decorations. If you make your own Psalter Stars we’d love to see them; if you share them on Facebook or Twitter you can tag us @SuffolkArchives. Once you’ve made your star, why not pop over to our digital advent calendar to see what’s behind today’s door?

A bit more about the Bury Psalter…

The Bury Psalter was created in the Scriptorium at the Abbey of Bury St Edmunds, and would have been made entirely by hand.

A Psalter is a book of Psalms – holy songs which are part of the Old Testament of the Bible, and a very important part of medieval worship. There are 150 Psalms, and they have different purposes and uses. Some are hymns which praise God, others lament disasters, and others are songs of thanksgiving to God.

As well as the Psalms, the Bury Psalter includes a calendar (a list of important events throughout the Christian year), and a list of saints. The lists of saints varies between Psalters, as monasteries and private owners would choose saints that were most important to them.

Like many other Medieval Psalters, the Bury Psalter is richly decorated. The illustrations throughout the Bury Psalter mainly depict events from the life of King David.

In later years the Psalter came to be privately owned, and in In 1706 it was given to King Edward VI Grammar School in Bury St Edmunds. The school still owns the Psalter today, and it is looked after by Suffolk Archives.

Images of the Bury Psalter are reproduced here by kind permission of the King Edward VI Grammar School Bury St Edmunds Foundation.