Tag Archives: Parallelism

Parallel Poetry

Parallel Poetry

Here’s a responsive reading that teaches your people about Hebrew poetry while worshipping at the same time.

Pastor:           In synonymous parallelism the second line of a verse expresses similar thoughts and sentiments as the first.

Pastor:           The heavens declare the glory of God;
All:                the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  (Ps 19:1)
Pastor:           Day after day they pour forth speech;
All:                Night after night they display knowledge.  (Ps 19:2)

Pastor:           In antithetic parallelism a thought expressed in one line contrasts in the next line with an opposite truth.

Pastor:           For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
All:                but the way of the wicked will perish.  (Ps 1:6)

Pastor:           My flesh and my heart may fail,
All:                but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Ps 73:26)

Pastor:           In synthetic (or climactic) parallelism subsequent verses build on that which has been stated in previous verses.

Pastor:           When I consider your heavens,
Women:        the work of your fingers,
Men:             the moon and the stars,
Pastor:           which you have set in place,
Men:             what is man that you are mindful of him,
Women:        the son of man that you care for him?  (Ps 8:3,4)

Pastor:           Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
All:                Who may stand in his holy place?
Pastor:           He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
All:                Who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
(Ps 24:3,4)

Pastor:           Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
All:                Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
Pastor:           Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
All:                yet I will rejoice in the Lord,  will be joyful in God my savior.
(Hab 3:17,18)

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society.  Used by permission of International Bible Society

Synonomous Parallelism & Psalm 27

Psalm 27 – Responsive Reading (selected verses)

On September 14th, we watched a video for our Psalm of the Day, which is Psalm 27.  This is a powerful Psalm and rich with parallel poetry.  We will introduce the video with the following responsive reading:


Leader – As we recite Psalm 27 responsively, pay particular attention to the poetic parallelism where the congregation repeats the same thoughts as spoken by the Leader.  This is a form of Hebrew poetry used extensively throughout the Psalms.


Leader:                       The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?

Congregation:            The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

Leader:                        When evil men advance against me; to devour my flesh,

Congregation:            when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.

Leader:                        Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear;

Congregation:            though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

Leader:                         One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,

Congregation:            to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.

Leader:                        For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;

Congregation:            he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

Leader:                        Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;

Congregation:            be merciful to me and answer me.

Leader:                        My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”

Congregation:            Your face, LORD, I will seek.

Leader:                        Do not hide your face from me,

Congregation:            do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper.

Leader:                       Teach me your way, O LORD;

Congregation:            lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.

Leader:                        Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Source: All scripture text is NIV.