Some thoughts about Bible passages

I know I've started loitering in the chat room and on the Launchpad site, but thought I'd post here to get some thoughts from other users.

First, a bit of background: I've recently taken on the AV responsibilities in my church, and have begun transitioning us from EasyWorship into OpenLP. Now, I quite dislike EW, and for some reason always have done, even before coming across OLP a few years ago. However, one thing I have found almost better in EW is the provision for Bible passages (particularly since setting up services). I have found that OpenLP's Bible passage provision has always seemed to be somewhat of an afterthought in the program and one that hasn't necessarily been looked into much. It is functional, it does what it needs to, but here are some thoughts from me as to what could be altered.

One of the main things is the ability to edit Bible passages. Although you cannot edit the Bible as it is in the database, you can edit it in the service. (In fact, you have to, but that's a different matter!) This is an advantage, particularly in some situations where verses are to be missed out - we had a reading from Nehemiah last Sunday in which our preacher had removed the verses which were just lists of names; situations such as in passages like Daniel 3 where the list of instruments is repeated several times where again we may wish to edit it down; or situations where a reading will start in the middle of a paragraph - I have found that Gospel readings will start with something Jesus said, so will often be prefixed by the person reading with  "Jesus said: ... ".

(I have mentioned in the past that it would be useful to be able to edit Bibles as they are in the database to fix any errors in the version that may be installed - for instance, I've come across some dodgy punctuation in places, or to change from the American English spellings to British English spellings, or to make sure that the version that is displayed matches what is in the printed Bibles in use by the congregation and the reader! This is possible if the relevant sqlite file is opened in an editor, but it by no means a user-friendly way of doing it! That said, we don't necessarily want an 'easy' way of doing it to prevent misuse or accidents, but an easier way would be nice!)

Predominantly in the Psalms, but present in other places including many of the prophets is that what is written is poetical rather than prose. Commonly seen when I'm testing bits and pieces out is in Genesis 1 around verses 26-28; verse 27 is a poetical verse in the midst of prose. There is also the common use of the word 'Selah' at the end of some stanzas in the Psalms, a word which is not read out but appears in the printed Bible as a right-aligned addition to the text, but due to its appearance in the text, it appears - at least, in the Bible version I use in OLP - as part of the verse to display. (I have actually edited the sqlite Bible on my installation to remove this word completely, and just hope it doesn't appear anywhere else!) This is almost related to the point above about editing, as it would be useful to be able to show a specific verse in a section as it is in a printed Bible. I would imagine that it would be down to a particular user and their use of the custom formatting tags, but although both songs and custom slides offer this facility, it is not possible in Bible passages. (Similarly, some churches may like having Jesus' words in red print. Personally, I don't see the point in that, however, I know some people do and it would be nice to be able to cater for them!)

Another aspect of this is the use of paragraphs in the prose of the Bible. Again, related to my point above about poetry vs prose, but often you will have the text of the Bible in proper paragraphs, particularly when you have speech back-and-forth among different people, or even (often with Jesus' parables) one block of spoken word which is spread among many paragraphs, where style practise says that you do not need the closing speech marks of a paragraph if the next is also spoken by the same person. Without the ability to see the gap in paragraph in the text, you will often see a rogue " in the middle. The use of paragraphs also makes it easier to read as you are not confronted with a large wall of text in front of you.

(As an aside, if I am preparing a service, I will often use a printed sheet with the Bible readings on rather than have the reader use a physical Bible, and will strip out the verse numbers as I have found that often somebody will see the gap in the text caused by the verse number and have a pause in their readings as if a comma or full stop was there, which is awkward when it's in the middle of a sentence, and may even give it a different meaning!)

I believe there is scope for editing how a Bible passage's information is presented on screen. This is in two ways:

To go back to my comparison with EW, the reference for the passage is shown at the top of the screen in an only slightly smaller size than the passage itself. This means that anybody looking at the screen can see it without having to search for it. I realise that in OLP, this information is also shown but it is as a footer, and as often the footer is just used for its legal reasons (during songs), many users (myself included) have this at quite a small font size and darker than the main text. It could be possible to have the reference at the top of the screen and static across all the slides of a passage, such as: "Jeremiah 3: 10-19 (NIV)" - although the Bible version in brackets as I have it there would probably require a slight alteration to the database schema as there is currently no way of storing the 'short' Bible name.

The second point is one that only popped into my head earlier on. It may seem a bit superflous, but - relating to my first point about editing how a passage is displayed on screen - would it be possible to have a page number displayed on the screen (possibly with the reference as I outlined above)? I only ask because I know that in my church, people often use the pew Bibles during a reading and refer to it during the sermon, and the person doing the reading will - or at least, is supposed to - give the page number when when they announce the reading. It was just something I thought might be useful, not sure if other churches would find it so though! (Personally, I use my own Bible in church, mostly because I can scribble in it if need be which I can't really do with the ones at my church!)

Anyway, those were just some thoughts I've been having recently about how Bible passages are handled within OpenLP. I would be interested to hear the thoughts of other people, and see if OLP can do these things!

Blessings to all!


  • I'm with you, how do I edit

    <To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David>

    out of verses.

    During the congregational is readings, we do not normally read this part.

    But many of the Psalms have it.


  • If you need to skip verses there is a way to do that without adding each verse individually, eg: psa:1:1,3,6 would desplay Psa 1 3 & 6, instead of doing so in the service. As for editing there is no way (to my knowlage) of doing that 
  • edited July 2018
    Agree it would be good to have a way to edit things if needed be.. The way I actually did this was by saving the service, renaming the service osz format to zip, extracting it and editing the file inside (its JSON)

    You can adjust the theme to make the footer text appear at the top for example, and make the font size larger, while you are editing the service in a text editor you can also change what the footer says. Yes it is not ideal, but it is a workaround.
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