What is a Versicle?

A versicle is a short verse or sentence (often from one of the Psalms) which is said or chanted by the pastor during a liturgical worship service. It is followed by a response from the congregation. Below is an example which was used at my church as an opening during Lent. It’s from Psalm 43.

Pastor: Vindicate me, O God and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!

People: For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me?

Pastor: Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

People: Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!

Pastor: Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God my God.

People: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?

Pastor: Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

The Psalter was ancient Israel’s hymnal, and it would have been used by Jesus and His disciples. From earliest times, Christians have also used the psalms to give voice to their prayer and praise. They have had a continuing influence on Christians and their worship.

For more about the Psalms see these posts:

Learning about God in the Psalms

Martin Luther on the Psalms

Reading the Psalms With Luther–Book Review

Learning about God in the Psalms

Recently I read through the book of Psalms as part of my morning devotional time. When we decided to blog this month about the attributes of God, I remembered how much the Psalms, especially the Psalms of praise tell us about the character of God. Here’s a list I came up with, and it’s not exhaustive.

God is:





*Steadfast in love









I invite you to read the Psalms and make your own list. You will find that this topic is one with no lack of material to ponder — and you will also find so many reasons to give thanks that this amazing God cares about people like you and me.

For more about the Psalms see:

Psalm 116–What Stands Out

Psalm 50–What Stands Out?

Martin Luther Quote on the Psalms #2


It’s probably not a coincidence that often what I am studying in the Bible goes right along with other things that I am reading. Recently in a book about grief, I came across a chapter on rumination. Here’s a definition:

Rumination is the focused attention on the symptoms of one’s distress, and on its possible causes and consequences.”

When we are grieving, some of the topics that seem to preoccupy us are:

  1. Negative emotional reactions to our loss (our reactions)
  2. Unfairness of the loss (injustice)
  3. Meanings and consequences of the loss (meaning)

Since I have also been reading through the Psalms, I realized that many of them are ruminations. The Psalmist cries out to God, listing a variety of physical and emotional symptoms (here are some examples from Psalm 38):

“My wounds stink and fester”(5)

“I am utterly bowed down and prostrate” (6)

“I am feeble and crushed” (8)

Often unfairness is mentioned:

“Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good.” Psalm 38:20

“The wicked plots against the righteous and gnashes his teeth at them.” Psalm 37:12

The meaning and consequences for the believer are ultimately comforting:

“… there is a future for the man of peace” Psalm 37:37

“Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord.” Psalm 35:9

“You are a hiding place for me.” Psalm 32:7

I could go one, but my point is this: the Psalms are ruminations from the past. Plus, they are more than that — they are co-ruminations (the repetitive, extension discussion between two close friends) –in this case, the close friend is God. He is there for us in every grief we experience. He understands our pain. We can tell Him exactly how we feel and He will comfort us and lead us into acceptance and understanding.

If you are grieving today, turn to the Psalms. It’s a good place to find consolation.

For more about the Psalms see:

Martin Luther on the Psalms

Martin Luther and the Book of Psalms

Reading the Psalms With Luther–Book Review

Looking for a Bible Study?

If you are looking for a Bible study to use in your congregation, or personally, the WMF (Women’s Missionary Federation) publishes a study every year, written by a woman who is a member of the AFLC. This year the study is entitled, “Behold Our God.” It was coauthored by four sisters — Karen Floan, Anne Presteng, Gwen Berg and Wendy Westlake, who gave a presentation at our annual conference during WMF day.

Here is a description of the study taken directly from the WMF website:

“As we behold God in Psalms 90-100, we are overwhelmed with His mighty power as Creator and Ruler of heaven and earth. We are humbled by His holiness and His plan of Salvation. We see His faithfulness in our lives and throughout all generations.

Overwhelmed by joy or overtaken by sorrow, God hears the cry of our hearts, He draws us to Himself, and His presence changes us.  It is the Almighty God who lovingly commands us to praise Him for our good and His glory.

May you be blessed as you “Behold our God” in the Psalms.”

If you are interested in purchasing this study, visit https://www.aflc.org/women/resources/bible-studies/

The cost is $13 which includes shipping. Also available are studies written in previous years, including one that I wrote on the book of Acts (AFLC 2019 Bible Study for Women).

For more study resources see these posts:

Plan to Read the Bible

Study Resources for Ladies

The CSB Study Bible for Women – Book Review

Speak to One Another–Advice From Martin Luther

 “Those who are tempted by doubt and despair I should console in this fashion. First, by warning them to beware of solitude and to converse constantly with others about the Psalms and Scriptures.”

Martin Luther

Singing Saints

“Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name” Psalm 30:4

Lutherans have been called “the singing church” and it’s true.  I can’t imagine worship without singing.  One visitor to our church told me, “you have a lot of audience participation!”  Well, we’re not meant to be an audience because worship isn’t a performance and yes, it’s all about participation.  The word liturgy literally means “work of the people.”  Songs of praise are part of that work, and it’s a privilege and joy to worship the One who loves and saves us.

The Bible is full of saints who sang.  There was David, of course, author of many of the Psalms (the hymn book of the Old Testament).  Miriam sang after the people crossed the Red Sea, and Deborah sang a victory after defeating the Canaanites.  Mary sang after her meeting with the angel who announced the birth of God’s son, and Simeon sang after seeing that same babe who had been promised.

There are many reasons saints sing, but most often their songs flow out of the joy and happiness of life with God.  One Christian song that comes to my mind as I write this is His Eye Is On the Sparrow.  Here’s the story of how that hymn by Civilla Martin  came to be written:

                                                                                                            “Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheelchair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle’s response was simple: ‘His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.’ The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’ was the outcome of that experience.”

The next day she mailed the poem to composer, Charles Gabriel, who wrote the tune for it.  Sing along with this beautiful piece because you’re happy to be a child of the King.




Reading the Psalms With Luther–Book Review

I borrowed this book from my husband’s office at church because it looked like it fit well with our theme this month and some of the posts I have been doing on the Psalms.  The Psalter was Martin Luther’s daily prayer book as a monk and the subject of his initial lectures as a professor.  His lectures and commentaries on the Psalms fill five volumes in the American Edition of Luther’s Works  

 This book combines several resources.  The text of each Psalm is included along with the translation of Luther’s Summaries on that Psalm.  To maintain the devotional style some things have been omitted, and his shorter summaries supplemented with comments from other writings.  Each Psalm is also accompanied by a prayer drawn from Book of Devotion:  The Psalms by Rev. F. Kuegle.  The Book also includes instructions for singing the Psalms, categories of Psalms, and a schedule of Psalms for daily prayer.

Reading the Psalms With Luther is an excellent resource for individual or family devotions.  I hope some of our authors and readers will try it and post their opinion.


A Favorite Psalm

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my heart pants for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  Where can I go and meet with God?

Psalm 42:1-2

This is one of my personal favorites.  The beautiful imagery speaks of a desire to know God that is equivalent to thirst.  The deer’s search for water is central to its’ very existence, and our lives depend upon God in the same way.  My study Bible (the Life Application Bible, NIV version) calls Psalm 42 and “antidepressant.”  I agree, it’s a wonderful way to lift up your spirit;  and yes, there is a musical version:

Over and Over

As for myself, let me say that I am a doctor and a preacher.  I am as learned and experienced as any of those who are so presumptuous and confident.  Yet I do as a child that is learning the Catechism.  I read and repeat in the morning and whenever I have time, the Ten Commandments, Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, the Psalms, etc.  I daily read and study the Catechism, and still I am not able to master it as thoroughly as I wish.  I must remain a child and a pupil of the Catechism, and this I do very willingly.

Martin Luther

If Martin Luther was willing to study  the basics of the faith over and over, shouldn’t each of us be willing to do likewise?