Memorizing Scripture From Your iPod

esv_logo.jpgI love memorizing Scripture.

But I don’t do it much.  I love memorizing Scripture because it enriches my prayers with Scripture, it helps me counsel people well, it saturates and sanctifies my mind with God’s words, and in general helps me to set my mind on things above (Col. 3:2) and to think about what is pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise (Phil. 4:8).

I don’t do it nearly as much as I’d like, however, because I can’t find the time.  My devotional times, when my snooze button goes untouched, already generally run to 60-90 minutes, so I have a hard time finding a way to fit memorization in—especially because I find it to be (for me personally) among the most time-consuming of the spiritual disciplines.

Fortunately for me, the ESV Online Bible site absolutely rules.

I always knew that you could listen to streaming audio of individually selected passages of Scripture from the ESV online—provided you’re willing to sit within the length of your headphone cord from your computer and listen to them.  A few times I’ve tried to do this while washing the dishes, setting my laptop next to the sink.  But I’ve splashed soap and water a bit too close to my keyboard enough times that I stopped doing that.  One time I actually forgot that I was connected to my laptop rather than my iPod, took a step away from the sink while my headphones were in, and only saved my laptop from being completely submerged in soapy water mixed with spaghetti sauce by virtue of my catlike moves and reflexes.

But this morning—a revelation—I found a way to download individually selected passages from the ESV as MP3 files, so that I can load them onto my iPod, hit “repeat,” and listen to passages I want to memorize about a dozen times between my garage and my office.  I’m using it to keep fresh on passages I’ve already memorized and don’t want to lose, and I’m going to use it to memorize the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3-7:27) while I’m working out.

There are a few steps to it, though, so here’s how it goes. It’s really not as complicated as it sounds:

1. Open another browser tab so that you can refer back to these instructions as you go.

2. Go to the ESV Online site.

3. In the top right corner, click on the “Options” tab.

4. Under “Audio Options,” click in one of the buttons for MP3 (I use David Cochran Heath because he seems to have the most “normal” sounding voice).

5. At the bottom left of the page, click the “Save” button (that should open a page that says, “Your preferences have been saved” at the top).

6. Type the passage you want (e.g. Ephesians 4:29 or Matthew 6:25-34)  into the search bar and click “search.”

7. When the passage comes up, you should see a link that says “Listen” next to the passage reference.  Control-click (PC users right-click) on the “Listen” tab. A menu box should come up. Click on “Save Link As…”

8. When the box pops up, you will have to add an extension name on the end of the title if it doesn’t have one. So, for example, if the title of your selection is “49004029” then you need to add .mp3 on the end, so that it reads “49004029.mp3”. Save the file to your Desktop.

9. Find the file on your desktop and open it with iTunes or Windows Media Player, or whatever you use. You can then load it onto your iPod, MP3 player, or burn it onto a CD for your car.

Yes, folks, it’s just that simple.

And here’s the most amazing part: It’s free! If it were almost any other organization there would be a subscription fee or a download fee or a 1-month access fee, etc., etc.  Thank you to the good people at Crossway and the English Standard Version!

Let me know if you have any problems. Otherwise, redeem your commute! Memorize Scripture!


77 thoughts on “Memorizing Scripture From Your iPod”

  1. Dude, I can’t get it to stay on the mp3 option. After I save the new settings is changes on its own back to flash. Any ideas?

  2. Bryan this is great but I have one concern…have you really become one of THOSE people who has to take opportunities to point out the differences between Mac and PC users? What’s next? Are you going to get one of the Calvin stickers for your vehicle of him peeing on the Ford logo?

    Memorize this one…

    For there is no distinction between Mac and PC; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him.

  3. I’ll bet Bry would opt out of the Calvin-peeing-on-Ford-logo sticker. However, I’m sure he’d go for a Calvin-peeing-on-Jacob Arminius sticker.

  4. Silly PC users? I have to use a Mac occasionally and the mouse is completely dysfunctional. There’s only one button! Its useless!

  5. Look out PB – you may top Locker Room Rules for page views on this one. You have been linked by both Justin Taylor and the ESV Blog.

    Thanks for the tips on putting our mp3 players to good use. And thanks to Crossway and ESV for making it FREE!

  6. Stevie B.

    Yeah, 476 page views already. It’s gonna blow “Locker Room Rules” out of the water. I’d feel much better about it being the top hit, frankly.

  7. Even when I change it to .mp3, it still saves as a small file. When I view the file in a text editor, I see all of the links to the .mp3 files which make up the .mp3 file. Am I missing something?

    I am pumped about this tip if I can get it to work.

  8. Bo,

    Are you, perhaps, trying to open it before it’s done downloading? If not, I’m not sure what would be causing that. Sorry, bud.


    You’re right. That’s exactly why I don’t use a PC. I don’t want to glorify God. You have such insight into my heart.

  9. daniel,

    You can download as much as you want. Whatever is displayed on the page is what you’re going to download – whether one verse or an entire book.

  10. Bryan and MacCronies-

    Sorry, I agree with Matt. Macs are too expensive. Plus, I just can’t stand the mice.

    Don’t get me wrong, I speak from experience and have in fact lived on the Dark Side. I even have a fully functional PowerPC 6500 set up in the dry corner of my basement to prove it! However, no one will write the drivers for a USB wireless card for OS 8.6, and there is no ethernet port. So it’s finally obsolete after 12 years. (Except maybe StevieB could use it… it has a working 33kbps dialup modem!).

    Maybe the ‘O’ Stimulus Bill will have provisions to buy a new PowerBook for everyone in America. That should solve things.


  11. Breaking the mac vs PC argument (to stir things up I’m on Linux) – has anyone asked ESV if this is legal?

    You can copy and paste text off other people’s site but that’s infringing copyright laws. I really doubt they will let you download this for free.

  12. Tim,

    I asked Justin Taylor if this was legal immediately after I posted it because I had similar concerns. The guys at ESV gave it the green light, and that’s how it ended up on the ESV blog and BTW. Thanks.


  13. I can get it to work when using David Cochran Heath….but when I tried Max McLean, it only allows me to download it as an m3u. Any suggestions?

  14. Nick and Adam,

    You guys got me. I tried a few things to see if I could convert it from M3U to MP3, but I couldn’t do it. Technically, the ESV site is wrong in saying that the Max McLean version is MP3. M3U is a different kind of file entirely. You might just need to stick with the Heath version.

  15. The Heath version is better anyway–McLean has such an affected tone, its really annoying to listen to, IMO.

    Thanks for this tip–I’m gonna try this as soon as I get home and can use my wife’s Mac (which is definitely the superior computer in our house).

  16. foobar2000 is an excellent audio player that also includes a whole host of conversion utilities. I’m not sure whether or not it will convert m3u’s, but it might be worth a try.

    id that doesn’t work, dbpoweramp is the swiss army knife of audio conversion.

  17. I followed all of the directions you listed, but when I tried to save it to my Creative Zen Vision:M mp3 player, a warning message came on screen saying, “Cannot complete operation: your player may be in use or is not connected to the computer”—even though it was NOT in use nor was it disconnected from my USB port. Are you sure these directions aren’t specifically geared towards iPod users only? Well, in any case, it wasn’t effective.

  18. Excellent! I tried this a year or two ago but did not continue very long. I think I’ll give it another go.

    First time to stop by here. I’ll be back!

  19. @ Brandon.b

    The Mac has “right click” option dude and is standard on all Macs. The mouse looks like one botton but is actually two. Go to an Apple Store and check it out. I own a Mac and “right click” all the time. lol 😛

    Thanks for the tip on memorization McWhite. I shall check it out.

  20. Thanks.

    FYI – I am getting a Mac on Tuesday, and I am excited. But you should know the mp3 file suffix does automatically pop up for us silly PC users. The Mac has a flaw ;o)

  21. There’s a pretty cool website that helps you memorize bible verses online (no more flash cards to carry around!)

    The cool thing about it is that it cycles through the verses you know less frequently so you don’t waste your time reviewing when you could be learning.

  22. Daniel,
    I don’t use itunes and I don’t know what cross fading is–though I can guess. I’m just using a drag and drop method with my Sansa player.

  23. Barbara,
    I do not know Sansa player. The problem I had was that since there is no black space at the end of each track like a song, the last word or sylabble was cut off by the next track when I played them together. I would look around in you player and see if this is the problem. Other than that I do not know. Which reader are you using? I have only got the mp3 download to work with David Heath

  24. I love this, thank you! It is exactly what I was looking for. I found you via google. 🙂 I posted your instructions on my blog too. Awesome, thanks!

  25. Sigh. When I tried the control click, I didn’t get the save link as option. Any clues what I’m doing wrong? I finally bought an MP3 player and am hoping to put some good listening on it.

  26. I am new to a Mac and also to an ipod.
    When I got to step 7 and clicked on ‘listen’ I didn’t get a menu box where I could ‘save link as’.

    Can you help?

  27. I know it is now December and I am just finding this blog post. But I still wonder why would make this free for download, but on the same site they have these files for sale. See:

    I saw that David Cochran Heath is copyright of Crossway, so I could see why that might be okay for free download. But what about Max Mclean and his company? Does Max’s company mind that these files are being downloaded at no cost too? I still have some concerns about downloading these. Any help or further clarification from gnpcb?

  28. Seth,

    I shared your concerns, which is why I checked with Crossway/ESV first and they explicitly approved it. They even re-posted my post on their own blog. If they were worried about copyright infringement, I image that they would have closed this technological loophole by now.


  29. Whoa!

    I have been doing this and it works like gangbusters.

    I absolutely detest memorizing single verses because how quickly they can be used to be taken out of context. (Jeremiah 29:11, anyone?)

    This is what I do to setup a memorize playlist:

    1. Do a search for the entire passage (1 Chronicles 29:10-18, for example). Download the entire mp3 for the passage.

    2. Then go verse to verse and download the individual verses.

    3. Add to iTunes.

    4. Switch the Media Type to Audiobook.

    5. Arrange into playlist starting with passage followed by individual verses as tracks.

    6. Load into iPod

    7. Repeat. $$$

    Seriously, my iPod is being worked over.

    I have memorized 1 Chronicles 29:10-18 and 1 Timothy 1:12-17. I am currently memorizing Romans 8 (I am as far as verse 25).

  30. Hey, I do not see save as in the drop down under “listen”. The dropdown does appear. I have a Mac computer. I did choose MP3 format and seemed to be on the esv online website. Please help.

  31. Thank you for the link to the ESV – I have been listening for hours and hours. This has seriously changed me. You did me a great favor.

  32. Awesome!! Thankyou! I’ve been looking for something like this for a long time to help with memorizing scripture. What a blessing 🙂

  33. I cant get this to work anymore-does the website not allow it anymore? When I right click no “save as” opton comes up only flash settings-even when I set my preferences for mp3-help!

  34. Is it ok to download for listening purposes too? I think im just gonna download the whole bible via the website. Thanks

  35. Im really curious about this because they charge to buy the whole bible on mp3 but yet you can just download it yourself also.

      1. Thanks yeah i talked with a customer service agent and thats pretty much what they said. I just bought the esv audio bible and am downloading it right now

  36. This works fine up to the point that I right-click on “Listen.” No “save as” option is available. Any suggestions for me? Thank you.

  37. I bookmarked this a while ago and just decided to use it today. It’s so helpful – thanks for the tip!

    For clarification for some of you that were asking questions. 1 – Be sure to hit “control – click” not “command – click” – it makes all the difference :). And 2 – instead of “save link as” my computer lists the option to “download linked file as.” Hope that helps!


  38. My husband an I developed an iPhone app that is specifically designed to help Christians memorize Scripture. You can memorize verses that come with the app or add your own. We have more than 10,000 users who are memorizing Bible passages daily! Thanks for making people aware of the fact that memorizing Scripture using an iPod touch or iPhone is a great way to put God’s Word in your mind and heart regardless of where you are. If anyone is interested, you can check out Bible Memory at

    Your your Blog!!

  39. Bryan,

    is there a way to save the mp3 files without having to do each one individually? I want to listen to the whole OT, but it would take me hours to get these files individually.

  40. Bryan, I read your post a while ago and have been grateful ever since. I have a long commute and it’s great to be able to memorize Scripture while I drive.

    I’m curious, now that the ESV site is redesigned and relaunched (, has anyone found a way to download MP3s? I’m working on Eph. 4, and I want to download chapters 5 and 6! 🙂

  41. Thanks for sharing this information with us.

    Mo, yes, I’ve been able to save multiple, adjacent verses in one MP3 file. First specify the verses when doing your search, e.g., “Colossians 1:3-8. Then right-click (for PC users) on “Listen,” select “Save Target as” and then you’ll be able to save all verses in one mp3 file.

    Sarah, yes, I just downloaded 2 MP3s from esvonline a few minutes ago. I followed B.C.’s original directions and they still work.

  42. It helps a lot, and maybe is the best way, to memorize listening to music, specially if the music is word for word, verbatim. There is a band that has the Bible in songs, and it’s unique in that the author has been working in the songs for over 35 years and have a high quality. This is the website:

  43. With so many experts in this area, how can someone tell which of these books are
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    porceline pets and books. Complete games ‘ Halladay.

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