ESV Bible Verse Lookup Drafts Action

Over the years, my workflow for taking notes on sermons in church has changed many times. From using a regular Moleskine, to Evernote Moleskines (which were photographed and stored in Evernote), to sketchnoting in Linea Sketch, I never stuck with a system long. My latest obsession has been using Day One as a journal, so it seems like the perfect place to store my sermon notes.

I’m also now taking my notes on my iPhone. I used to take my 9.7” iPad (and then 10.5” iPad Pro) with me. Even with the size reduction on the 2018 models, the 12.9” iPad Pro is way too big to carry into church. Unfortunately, this does mean I lose the convenience of having a Bible app open on one side of the screen and my notes on the other. After one week of this, I knew I had to figure out a way to quickly get the text of the verses into my notes so I didn’t have to keep switching apps.

A quick DuckDuckGo search revealed the Bible translation my church uses, the English Standard Version, has an API that can retrieve full passages of a search query sent to the server. I knew accessing and processing verses from the API would be a great job for Drafts.

I got to work after church yesterday, and created the Insert ESV Text action. It will prompt the user for verses to insert. You can the passage just how you would write it down. For instance, in church yesterday, we studied James 1:1-8. You can type James 1:1-8 into the prompt, and all 8 verses will be inserted into the current draft.

On the verse prompt, there is also a switch to put the returned passage into a markdown blockquote. I have this set as the default because it’s how I prefer my text. However, if this isn’t your preferred default, look at the comments in the script for quick directions on how to change this. It’s as easy as changing the word “true” to “false” in the code.

In order to use this action, you will need a free API token from api.esv.org. The first time you run the action, it will prompt you for your API token. After that, it will automatically retrieve it from Drafts’s Credentials. Once you’ve stored your token, you’re free to start inserting Bible verses from the ESV into Drafts.

I know this is probably a niche script, but it was a lot of fun to create, so I hope it will be useful for someone other than myself. You can get the action here.

Craig McClellan @craigmcclellan