This is a nearly-comprehensive list of “Little House On the Prairie” episodes that quote the Bible.
In italics I’ve listed many, but not all, of the non-Biblical books, poems, and hymns mentioned or recited in the series. I’ve also listed Jewish prayers (“Come, Let Us Reason Together”) and Native American prayers (“Freedom Flight” and “Injun Kid”).
I have had a lot of help from a site where transcripts of the episodes are provided.
Descriptions of all these episodes can be found at the Little House On the Prairie website.
On my blog I explain how this compilation got started.
[Edit to add a link to a similar list I made for the Little House books].
The pilot episode (“Little House On the Prairie”)
Charles scolds the children, “The Bible says ‘Thou shalt not argue before breakfast,’” to which Caroline replies, “That’s not in the Bible, Charles.” He says, of course, “Well, it ought to be.”
The events depicted in the pilot cover the entirety of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s third “Little House” book, “Little House On the Prairie,” which tells of the family’s time in Kansas. The book has Caroline, fearing an Indian attack and sitting in the dark one night with the shotgun on her lap, singing a hymn that Laura later said was her mother’s favorite, “There is A Happy Land”. This scene is depicted in the pilot as in the book, and it shows Caroline singing a few lines:
There is a happy land far, far away
Where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day
Oh to hear the angels sing, glory to the Lord our King,
O to hear the angels sing praise, praise for aye
And the pilot reproduces this little tune from the book exactly:
Git out of the way for old Dan Tucker!
He’s too late to get his supper!
Supper’s over and the dishes washed,
Nothing left but a piece of squash!
Caroline says, “Pride goeth before a fall,” a common misquotation of Proverbs 16:18, “Pride cometh before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”. Caroline also says, “Remember, Laura, ‘do unto others’” (Matthew 7:12) and “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39).
“The Hundred Mile Walk”
Caroline recites from the Book of Ruth, when she brings the wives over to gather fallen wheat, saying “And she gleaned until even, and then she beat out that she had gleaned with flails and winnowing”, a close quote of Ruth 2:17 —
So she gleaned in the field until even; and she beat out that she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley.
“Mr. Edwards’ Homecoming”
The congregation sings “Bringing In the Sheaves,” an 1874 hymn that appears in many Little House episodes, probably more than any other hymn (but which appears nowhere in the Little House books).
Mr. Edwards tries to read “The Three Bears” to Carrie (see the Three Bears’ Wiki page for the story’s evolution).
“The Lord Is My Shepherd”
Charles and Caroline say Psalm 23 together when Charles, Jr. dies.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Reverend Alden says in a sermon, “If you rid yourself of evil deeds and thoughts, the Lord will make all things possible,” a paraphrase of at least three Bible verses.
One is Matthew 19:26, which deals with the possibility of a rich man going to heaven –
But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.
Another is Mark 14:36, where Jesus prays —
Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt.
See also Matthew 17:20, in which Jesus tells his disciples why they couldn’t cure a certain child:
And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
“The Richest Man in Walnut Grove”
Harriet Oleson says to Caroline, “Pride cometh before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall”, to which Charles answers with the correct reading, “pride goeth before destruction” (Proverbs 16:18).
Mr. Sprague mentions the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ebenezer Scrooge is not mentioned, but that name would have been famous since the 1843 publication of “A Christmas Carol.”
“The Spring Dance”
Charles tells two Bible jokes (the Bible mentions baseball In the Big Inning; the time of day that Adam was created was just before Eve).
Two novels are mentioned. Dr. Baker has finished “A Tale of Two Cities”, lent to him by Grace Snyder. Charles is reading “Silas Marner”.
The central plot of “Silas Marner” — an old man is drawn out of an emotional shell by a little girl — happens to be the theme of many “Little House” episodes, though usually with a twist:
- Laura and Ebenezer Sprague, the banker (“Ebenezer Sprague,” season 2)
- Laura and the old widower (“The Haunted House”, season 2)
- Laura and her paternal grandfather (“Journey In the Spring,” season 3)
- Laura and the blind old man whom she compels to help her (“The Hunters,” season 3)
- Laura and the old hermit Zechariah, a gold-prospector who does not love gold, and who teaches Laura about greed (“Gold Country”, season 3)
- Jenny and Dr. Marvin, a man who is embittered about losing his practice but ends up helping Jenny out of her own depression (“Marvin’s Garden,” season 9)
Chapter 19 of “Silas Marner” contains a kind of custody battle, which is the central plot of “Uncle Jed” (season 8), in which gold again plays a role. The Uncle Jed of the episode title is played by E.J. André, who had portrayed the gold-prospector, Zechariah.
“The Haunted House”
Laura reads, and later shares with the old widower, John 11:25 —
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet he shall live.
“Remember Me, Part 1”
Reverend Alden reads the entirety of Psalm 121 at the burial of the widow Sanderson:
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved. He that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, He that keepeth Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper: The Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will preserve thee from all evil: He will preserve thy soul. The Lord will preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore.
“Remember Me, Part 2”
Reverend Alden reads the entirety of Psalm 100 at a service to mark Thanksgiving:
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord is God: it’s he that’s made us, not we ourselves; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with Thanksgiving and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto Him; bless his name. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
“At the End of the Rainbow”
There are no Bible quotes but Laura says to her friend, “Your name’s Jonah [and] you’re trying to catch a whale.”
“His Father’s Son”
John Jr. quotes Lord Byron’s “The Ocean” (“Man marks the earth with ruin; his control / Stops with the shore”); he mentions Ralph Waldo Emerson; and he gets a book of Keats poems for his birthday.
Pa recites to Mary a direct quote from Emerson’s preface to “Parnassus,” an 1880 anthology of poetry: “There are two classes of poets – the poets by education and practice, these we respect; and poets by nature, these we love.” Charles says that John Jr. is reading this book.
“The Talking Machine”
Laura, in reference to Nellie’s surprising offer of friendship, says “You remember what Ma always says: ‘turn the other cheek’ (Matthew 5:39). Mary replies, “And you know what Pa says: ‘Turn the other cheek, but watch out.’”
“A Matter of Faith”
Caroline, at home alone with an infected wound, reads Mark 9:43a, 45a (see also Matthew 18:8):
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed… And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life...
She also tries to read Psalms 18-21, but her vision blurs.
Reverend Alden builds a sermon from Ecclesiastes 11:25 –
In the day of prosperity, there’s a forgetfulness of affliction: and in the day of affliction, there’s no remembrance of prosperity.
Laura mentions to Mary how God “marks the fall of every sparrow,” a reference to Matthew 10:29 –
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
“The Collection” (season opener)
The Johnny Cash character, presenting himself in Walnut Grove as a preacher, talks about Noah’s flood in a conversation with Alicia Edwards, though the Bible is not quoted.
At the end, June Carter Cash sings a few lines from a 1912 gospel song, “In the Garden”:
And the joy we share as we tarry there None other has ever known
“The Monster of Walnut Grove”
Laura reads to Carrie from Washington Irving’s short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”; she seems to be reading an adaptation, maybe a children’s version. At the end of the episode, a headless horseman is seen, not carrying a head.
Rev. Alden rehearsing his Sunday sermon: “Yes, love all creatures great and small. That is a great lesson from the Lord. It tells us in the Bible that the Lord gave man dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over everything that moveth on the earth.” Rev. Alden is referring to Genesis 1:26 –
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
See also Psalm 104:24-25 –
Oh Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches. So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
After getting butted by Fred the goat, Rev. Alden gives instead a “fiery” sermon, per Charles and Caroline, on the “wages of sin”, a phrase found in Romans 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“The Bully Boys”
Reverend Alden, giving two sermons about the type of courage that is found in the Bible, says “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39) and “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive our trespassers” (Matthew 6:12).
At the end, having turned the Galendar brothers out of town, the congregation sings, “Onward, Christian Soldiers” (a hymn the congregation sings again as the people of Walnut Grove leave the town for the last time, in “The Last Farewell”).
Charles closes the episode with Luke 2: 1, 3-11, the Nativity story quoted in a very similar fashion by Linus in the “Peanuts” Christmas special:
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem …, To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
Laura says, “After all, our Pa says hair is a woman’s crowning glory,” a modern saying that has roots (yes, roots) in 1 Corinthians 11:15 –
But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
The schoolgirls put on a play of Louisa May Alcott’s 1868 novel, “Little Women”. They perform the scene in which Jo cuts and sells her hair. Nellie plays Meg, Laura is Beth (of course), and Mary is perfectly cast as Marmee.
Willie Oleson tries to get his friends to put on a play of Mark Twain’s “Tom Sawyer”, which was published in 1876 and is described as “recent” in this episode, which is set in 1878. They rehearse the scene in Chapter 2, where Tom gets his friends to whitewash a fence for him. At the end of this episode, Willie’s friends dump him in the bucket of whitewash.
The episode opens with Willie and Laura sparring with sticks and playing the parts of Robin Hood and Little John respectively. This is partly a nod to Tom Sawyer, who “played Robin Hood” with his friends in Twain’s novel. The character of Robin Hood has a long cultural history going back well before Little House times, but the modern version we are all familiar with first appears in one of Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley novels, “Ivanhoe” (1819), in which Robin is called “King of Outlaws and prince of good fellows!”
Laura mentions “Hansel and Gretel,” and at one point she is likened to Medusa.
John Edwards reads to Mary from a Lord Byron poem, “When We Two Parted”:
When we two parted,
in silence and tears,
to sever for years
The Lord’s Prayer (from Matthew 6:9-13) is recited in full at Sunday service.
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Spotted Eagle is shown, at a creek, saying his own native prayers, in a language that could be Lakota (?)
“To Live With Fear, Part 2”
Charles says the first few lines of the Lord’s Prayer (from Matthew) when trapped in the caved-in tunnel. The Lord’s Prayer probably appears in many episodes.
The miners from China bury one of their own, and they appear to say some prayers in Chinese at the burial.
“The Wisdom of Solomon”
The title of the episode is the title of one of the Deuterocanonical books of the Bible, sometimes known simply as “Wisdom.”
At school the entire class recites from an 1826 poem by Felicia Hemans, “Casabianca.” Later, Laura recites from William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus”. Solomon then shares some lyrics from a song that I can’t identify:
Death is the robber but it can’t catch me
Cause I’ve been called by the man from Galilee
Lord, I’ve never been up, and I’ll never go down
Cause my soul is heaven bound
“Gold Country” (season ender)
Reverend Phillips partially quotes Exodus 20:8 (“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”) and Matthew 18:20 (“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”)
The congregation sings “Shall We Gather At the River”, the hymn used in many of the Westerns of John Ford (it is also sung in Season 4’s “The Creeper of Walnut Grove” and Season 9’s “The Wild Boy, Part 2”). The lyrics refer to a river that “flows from the throne of God” (Ezekiel 47: 1-12 speaks of a river flowing from the Jerusalem Temple, and Revelation 22:1-5 of a river flowing from God’s throne).
The congregation also sings “Rock of Ages.”
“Castoffs” (season opener)
Reverend Alden quotes Matthew 7:7 —
Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened to you.
Reverend Alden reads Rev 21:4 at the funeral of the drowned girl —
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death; neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Charles says to Laura, “Just lean on the Lord,” a phrase loosely based on Proverbs 3:5 –
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Laura gives the outcast Busby her copy of the children’s story, “The House That Jack Built,” based probably on the old British nursery rhyme (“This is the cat / That killed the rat that ate the malt / That lay in the house that Jack built”, and so on).
When Andy wants to name a wolf pup Jonah, Mr. Garvey says that it’s not a whale.
Laura mentions reading “Little Red Riding Hood,” a story that has gone through many variations: its earliest known printed version is from 1697; a well-known version by the Brothers Grimm was published in 1857.
“The Creeper of Walnut Grove”
Reverend Alden reads the beginning of Psalm 23, when Charles’ hair has been accidentally dyed green (“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures”). Throughout the episode, Laura and Andy refer to a fictional detective, Farnsdale Fremont of Scotland Yard; I think he’s merely meant to be fictional, and not from a known book, because I can’t find the character in my online searches.
“To Run and Hide”
Beth Novack reads Luke 4a, 6 –
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem … And so it was that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
Dr. Baker, spilling some apples, says, “My cupboard runneth over,” a play on Psalms 23:5 —
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
The leader of the bounty hunters searching for Jesse and Frank James describes his posse’s goal as “An eye for an eye, if you get my meaning”. That famous phrase comes from Matthew 5:38-44 (“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”) and Exodus 21:24, which commanded retribution not to go beyond the original offense (“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”)
Joe Kagan, beaten up after a fight in the ring, reads the first three verses of Psalm 116 but he cannot continue:
I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear [upon] me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. Then [I] called upon …
“Here Come the Brides”
Adam Sims and Eva Beadle, just starting to flirt with each other, joke about being Adam and Eve. Adam says that his pig farm is no “Garden of Eden”, a phrase that appears in Genesis 2:15–3:24 and in Ezekiel 36:35 and Joel 2:3.
The justice of the peace in Sleepy Eye, exasperated at being woken up in the middle of the night, complains that he’s tried to live by the “Golden Rule.” That is a modern phrase rather than a Biblical verse, and the idea behind it can be said to be reflected in several religious traditions, but in the Bible it is most often associated with Matthew 7:12 (“Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets”) and Leviticus 19:18 (“thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”).
The episode ends with the Santee Dakota chief singing what Little Crow describes to Charles as “his death chant”:
A warrior I have been
Now it is all over
A hard time I have had
I am old and living an unnatural life
I stand on the edge of a life no one knows
I am anxious to go to my father
To live again, as men were intended to live
Throughout the episode there are references to the Dakota War of 1862, which is known for what is still the largest mass execution in U.S. history: the hanging of 38 Dakota Sioux men in Mankato, Minnesota, a town not far from Walnut Grove that is very often mentioned during the series. The Dakota War and the Mankato executions are also heatedly recalled in season 1’s “Survival” and season 3’s “Injun Kid.”
Mary, in the parish where she gets her first teaching assignment, reads many of the Ten Commandments and emphasizes the 9th, in Exodus 16:20 —
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Mary also mentions the Golden Rule (see Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 7:12, Luke 6:31) and quotes Psalm 133:1 —
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
The cult-like leader of Mary’s new community denounces her as Jezebel, a reference to the wife of King Ahab (1 Kings 16:31), who over the centuries became a symbol for false prophets and fallen or promiscuous women.
At the end the congregation sings “Jesus Loves Me.”
“Be My Friend”
Caroline says to Anna Mears, the girl who has been condemned for having a child out of wedlock, “I think, our Lord put it best. And I’m certainly not the one to cast the first stone.” That is a reference to John 8:7, where Jesus is asked whether a woman caught in adultery should be stoned:
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
“I’ll Be Waving As You Drive Away, Part 2” (season finale)
Adam reads from the opening verses of Genesis to Mary from a Braille Bible (Gen 1:2b-3a) –
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
Mary reads all of Psalm 15 from memory to the Walnut Grove congregation –
Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the Lord. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not. He that putteth not out his money to usury, nor taketh reward against the innocent. He that doeth these things shall never be moved.
Mary also says that “Paradise Lost” is one of her favorite books.
“The Winoka Warriors”
Laura has been reading Sir Walter Scott. She calls his 1810 poem “Lady of the Lake”, based on the Arthurian legend, the best book she’s ever read; the next week she says the same of 1819 novel, “Ivanhoe”. Sir Walter Scott is one of the few authors read by characters both in the “Little House” TV series and the books.
“The Man Inside”
To make fun of the overweight Mr. Bevin, one of Laura’s schoolmates mentions “Moby-Dick” and quotes, “Thar she blows!” But Moby-Dick, though published in 1851, was practically forgotten by this time; it was not until the 1920s that Melville was rediscovered by critics and the public.
“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1”
Laura and Caroline briefly discuss “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”
“You’ve been doing your reading at night?”
“Mm-hmm. I’m almost through with Uncle Tom’s Cabin. You know the lady that wrote it, what’s her name?”
“Harriet Beecher Stowe?”
“Mm-hmm. Mrs. Garvey told us that Mrs. Stowe said that God wrote it.”
“Well, I don’t believe that. Inspired, maybe. Sure did get a lot of folks thinking about the wrongs of slavery, though.”
Of course the title of this episode quotes the last line of “The Wizard of Oz” movie (and Ray Bolger, famous for his performance as the Scarecrow, has a guest part). That line is “There is no place like home,” as spoken by Dorothy to the Scarecrow, in chapter 4 of L. Frank Baum’s novel “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” published in 1900.
“There’s No Place Like Home, Part 2”
The blind-school kids sing an 1880 song, “Keep the Horseshoe Over the Door”, which also appears in “By The Shores of Silver Lake” (chapter 30, “Where The Violets Grow”):
We journey along quite contented with life, And try to live peaceful with all We keep ourselves free from all trouble and strife, And we’re glad when our friends on us call Our home it is happy and cheerful and bright, We’re contented, we ask nothing more. And the reason we prosper I’ll tell to you now-- There’s a horseshoe hung over the door Keep the horseshoe hung over the door It will bring you good luck ever more If you want to be happy and free from all care Keep the horseshoe hung over the door
Albert names his calf Fagin, alluding to the old miser in Charles Dickens’ 1838 novel “Oliver Twist” who teaches a group of orphans to make their living by pickpocketing and other criminal activities. Albert of course is himself an orphan who had been making his way doing many things, including pickpocketing, when the Ingallses found him.
Charles builds his sermon on the 9th Commandment (Exodus 16:20).
The spelling bee uses the same words featured in the spelling contest in “Little Town On the Prairie” (xanthophyll, mimosaceous, repetitious).
“Blind Journey, Part 1”
In a dispute about whether to admit a black man, Joe Kagan, into their congregation, Harriet and Nels quote to each other from the Song of Solomon:
1:6a Look not upon me, because I am black. 1:6b I am black because the sun hath darkened me. 1:5 I am black but beautiful.
The Olesons fight also about the mark of Cain (see Genesis 4:15-16).
Reverend Alden quotes from John 3:16 (“God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”)
Later the Reverend recites Matthew 25: 35, 40b:
I was hungry, and you gave me meat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in ... for as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, you have done it unto me.
And Joe Kagan recites from John 21 (“feed my sheep and feed my lambs.”)
Mr. Singerman says, “Even the holy book says, ‘if you must beat a child, use a string.’” This actually comes from post-Biblical Jewish writings:
Rav said to Rav Samuel bar Shilat: If you hit a child, strike him only with a shoestring (Bava Batra 21a).
I have found that verse online used in a commentary on Proverbs 23:13, which reads:
Withhold not from a lad correction, for if thou beat him with the rod he will not die. Thou wilt indeed beat him with the rod, but thou wilt deliver his soul from perdition.
“Dance With Me”
Hester Sue sings two full stanzas from the hymn “Rock of Ages” in a boisterous gospel fashion that surprises the congregation and even scandalizes a few:
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee; Let the water and the blood, From thy wounded side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure. While I draw this fleeting breath, When mine eyes shall close in death, When I rise to worlds unknown And behold thee on thy throne, Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee.
The first stanza alludes to John 19:34 (“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.”)
Later the congregation sings “Amazing Grace.”
“The Lake Kezia Monster”
Caroline reads a Br’er Rabbit story at bedtime.
Kezia herself dresses and acts out the part of a harpooneer on a whaling ship, and she says that all her late husbands went to sea, though I’m pretty sure nothing is said specifically about Melville or “Moby-Dick”.
At the end, Hester-Sue sings a 1905 gospel song, “Stand By Me,” by Charles Albert Tindley.
Dylan reads to Laura and Albert about Homer’s “Odyssey.”
The kids and Charles meet a young William Randolph Hearst.
“Back to School, Part 1” (season opener)
Caroline quotes 2 Kings 21:13 to Charles (“as a man wipeth a dish”)
“The Preacher Takes a Wife“
Reverend Alden recites Job 3:1-3 –
After that, Job opened his mouth and cursed his day. Job spoke, and he said, Let the day perish in which I was born, and the night in which it was said a man child is conceived.
Jeremy Tyler and Reverend Alden read Luke 10:27 together –
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind
Later Mrs. Craig asks the Reverend a question that comes from the same text – “Who is my neighbor” – and he recognizes it immediately, saying “Even as the lawyer asked the Lord in Luke 10:29”. Mrs. Craig then confesses that she feels for the Reverend “a love that surpasseth all understanding”, a quote of Ephesians 3:19 in a very different context, which sends the poor Reverend scurrying out of the room
Later, Mrs. Craig quotes Mark 10:9, a line which must appear in other episodes featuring wedding ceremonies: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder”
The two new lovebirds also recite together a few lines from Robert Browning’s poem about the 12th century poet-mathematician-scholar, “Rabbi Ben Ezra” –
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
Caroline, reprimanded by Mrs. Oleson to get back to work in the restaurant’s kitchen, refers to Harriet as “Mrs. Simon Legree,” an allusion to the slave-driver in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
At the burial of Mr. Tyler, Reverend Alden reads some lines from a burial service that I can’t identify:
Weak are we all and dying, O God; give us thy peace, strength for life's battle while it lasts, and rest at the close of day when work is done.
The false healer reads Psalm 23 at the burial of the boy who has died of appendicitis.
Reverend Alden reads Psalm 23 at the burial of Caroline’s mother.
Albert tells Caroline’s stepfather, Frederick Holbrook, that he is bored reading “Silas Marner”, which Caroline says that she read as a girl, though the real Caroline was 22 when “Silas Marner” was published in 1861.
“The Angry Heart”
At the end, the congregation sings “Ring the Bells of Heaven”
“The Werewolf of Walnut Grove”
Bart the bully quotes directly from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little Town On the Prairie” (chapter 15), taunting Eliza Jane with this tune:
Going to school is lots of fun, From laughing we have gained a ton, We laugh until we have a pain, At lazy, lousy, Lizy Jane.
In the novel, it is actually Laura who thinks up those lines and writes them out, trying to impress some schoolmates who also do not like the new schoolteacher.
“Darkness Is My Friend”
Albert reads to Carrie from a children’s story based on an 1885 poem by James Whitcomb Riley, “Little Orphant Annie.”
The entire Lord’s Prayer (from Matthew) is signed in Sign Language, and spoken by the father of the deaf boy, Daniel.
“May We Make Them Proud, Part 1”
Reverend Alden reads Rev 21:3-4 at the funeral for Alice Garvey and Mary’s baby:
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death; neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Albert reads to Mary from Elizabeth Barret Browning’s “Sonnets from the Portuguese”:
I Thought Once
How Theocritus Had Sung
Of The Sweet Years
And Wished-For Years
Who Each One
In A Gracious Hand Appears
To Bear A Gift
For Mortals Old Or Young
I think this episode uses the dialogues and arguments in the Book of Job. Jonathan Garvey, at his wife’s grave, angrily declines Charles’ invitation to church services on Sunday and asks how God, if He performed all those miracles in the Bible, could not have performed one the night of the fire; how He could let Alice and Charles’ own grandson die. Charles does not reply as do Job’s friends, who all think they know how God thinks and why He acts or doesn’t act. Charles simply says, “I don’t know. If I did know, I’d be God.” And he leaves it at that, letting his friend have his grief.
“May We Make Them Proud, Part 2”
Hester Sue sings a few lines from the hymn “Rock of Ages”:
And behold thee on thy throne
Rock of Ages, cleft for me
Let me hide myself in thee
“A New Beginning”
Psalm 23 is read at the burial of Tim Mahoney after his attempted robbery of the bank in Sleepy Eye.
“Portrait of Love”
Reverend Alden reads Psalm 1:1-2–
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.
Earlier, Charles had spoken to Caroline about King David’s son, Absalom:
“Well, just look at the Old Testament — Absalom. Here he was, trying to kill his own father, and yet, when he died, King David asked God to take him instead.”
Absalom was the third son of David with Maacah; he raised a revolt against David and declared himself king; when he died at the hands of David’s men, David said (2 Samuel 18:33),
O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!
In a conversation with Charles, Caroline uses a phrase of uncertain origin, traced back at least as far to Francis Bacon’s “Essays” (1625): “If the mountain will not come to Mohamed, Mohamed must go to the mountain.”
“Dearest Albert, I’ll Miss You”
Albert says to a schoolmate, “you know what the Good Book says, ‘be kind to your fellow man’” — but this is probably just a paraphrase of one or more Bible verses.
Albert’s pen pal mentions “Swan Lake”; her mother mentions Paul Bunyon.
Albert refers to Cyrano de Bergerac, though the famous play based on Cyrano’s life was not written until 1897.
Carrie asks Pa to tell her a story about “Giant the Bear”, which I can’t identify online.
One of Laura’s schoolkids reads from William Holmes McGuffey’s “Fourth Eclectic Reader” (from the story, “Harry and His Dog”):
And little Harry will remember from the events of this day that kindness, even though shown to a dog, will always be rewarded; and that ill nature and bad temper are connected with nothing but pain and disgrace.
“Come, Let Us Reason Together”
Percival/Isaac’s father, Benjamin Cohen, quotes Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, let us reason together”.
Father and son had earlier attended a Shabbat service by themselves, in which they said the following prayer, which quotes the Bible at least once:
Shema Israel Adonai Elo Heynu Adonai Achad Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God, The Lord Is One (Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29). Our God, and God of our fathers, may our rest be acceptable unto Thee. Hallow us by Thy commandments, satisfy us by Thy goodness, and gladden us with Thy salvation. O purify our hearts, that we may serve Thee in truth.
Elsewhere in the episode Benjamin says a Jewish prayer of grace at the dinner table; I don’t know if it quotes the Bible in any way:
Baruch Atah Adonai Elo Heynu melech ha olam boray pree ha gosfen Blessed art Thou, O lord, our God, king of the universe, who ripeneth the fruit of the vine. We give thanks for Thy loving kindness day by day and ask that we be worthy in the sight of God and man.
“Make a Joyful Noise”
The kids at the blind school sing many hymns: “Get On Board (The Gospel Train),” “Every Time I Feel the Spirit,” “Go Tell It On the Mountain”. A choir practicing at the funeral parlor sings “Bread of Heaven.”
The Bible is not quoted, but Hester Sue does mention that one of her kids at the blind school has walls around him so difficult to break down that Joshua himself couldn’t tumble them.
“Sylvia, Part 1”
Reverend Alden says to Sylvia’s father, “Well, the lord was pretty busy creating, but still he found time to rest on the seventh day”. Genesis 2:2 –
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
Sylvia’s father says to her vindictively, “You reap what you sow,” a common phrase based on Galatians 6:7 –
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
“Sylvia, Part 2”
Charles says to Caroline, “You’re the one always telling me pray for my enemies – the Christian way.” Still eyeing revenge upon Mrs. Oleson, Caroline replies, “so is ‘an eye for an eye.’”
Ma and Pa Ingalls are quoting from two different parts of Matthew 5:38-44 –
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
Jesus is alluding to Exodus 21:24, which commanded retribution not to go beyond the original offense –
Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
“I Do, Again”
Reverend Alden jokes to Charles, “You know where the Bible says, ‘go ye therefore and populate the earth’? You didn’t have to take it quite so literally.” In Genesis 1:28, God says to Adam —
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.
In Genesis 9:1, God says to Noah —
Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.
Almanzo tells Grace a bedtime story, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, and says that Grace looks just like Goldilocks; but this episode is set in the 1880s and it seems that, while a story of a little girl visiting three bears existed at the time, the title character was not named Goldilocks until 1904, changing from Silver-Hair in 1849 to Golden Hair around 1868, among other variations. When Grace asks for another story, Almanzo begins telling “Jack and the Beanstalk”, which goes back to a 1734 story that was popularized in an 1845 version.
“The Lost Ones, Part 1”
At their makeshift burial of James and Cassandra’s parents, Charles recites John 11:25-26:
I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.
“The Reincarnation of Nellie, Part 1”
Nels pours some too-hot water on Harriet’s head in her bath, so she likens Nels to Quasimodo at Notre Dame Cathedral, alluding to the famous episode in Book 9, Chapter 4 of Victor Hugo’s “Notre Dame de Paris” (1831) in which the hunchback pours molten lead on an army of vagabonds in the street.
Note: Nellie had called Percival “Quasimodo”, insulting him for being short, in part 1 of the closing episode of Season 6, “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not.“
Reverend Alden briefly refers to the teaching, “love thy neighbor,” a quote from many places in the Bible.
“A Wiser Heart”
The professor in this episode, which is set in 1886, mentions several works from the general time period, including Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” (first published in 1855 as part of “Leaves of Grass”) and Mark Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn” (first published in Britain in December 1884). Ralph Waldo Emerson appears briefly, though Emerson had died in April 1882.
The fictional Emerson begins his lecture with: “Men are all inventors sailing forth on a voyage of discovery. The power and resources of man are benefited by the observation of every triumph of man over nature, by every opportunity of seeing that wisdom is better than strength.”
That is adapted from a passage in “Ralph Waldo Emerson : The Complete Works” (1904):
We are all inventors, each sailing out on a voyage of discovery, guided each by a private chart, of which there is no duplicate. The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck; the earth sensitive as iodine to light; the most plastic and impressionable medium, alive to every touch, and, whether searched by the plough of Adam, the sword of Caesar, the boat of Columbus, the telescope of Galileo, or the surveyor’s chain of Picard, or the submarine telegraph,—to every one of these experiments it makes a gracious response. I am benefited by every observation of a victory of man over Nature; by seeing that wisdom is better than strength; by seeing that every healthy and resolute man is an organiser, a method coming into a confusion and drawing order out of it. (Vol. VIII. Letters and Social Aims; IV. Resources)
“Gambini, the Great”
When Gambini dies in his bonfire circus act, Reverend Alden reads at the funeral:
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust, in sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body so that it may be likened unto his glorious body, according to the magic workings wherein He is able to subdue all things to Himself.
Reverend Alden is reading from the English Burial Service found in the Book of Common Prayer. In online searches I have found the text of the prayer with only slight variations, such as “mighty working”, which is “magic workings” in Reverend Alden’s reading. I don’t know which version of that phrase is original. In any event, the prayer as a whole is adapted from Genesis 3:19:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
“A Christmas They Never Forgot”
Many Christmas carols are sung, and Hester Sue sings part of a Negro spiritual, “Sweet Jesus Boy”:
You done told us how We is a-trying Master, you done showed us how Even when you was dying Sweet little Jesus boy We didn’t know who you was
The meaning of the hymn, as explained to Robin White by Robert MacGimsey in 1966, has been associated with John 1:10-11:
He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.
“No Beast So Fierce”
Albert, Willie and James read from William Holmes McGuffey’s Third Eclectic Reader:
The wings of a bat have no quills. They are only thin pieces of skin stretched upon a framework of bones. Besides this, it may be said that while he is a [. . .] known only as a quadruped, he can rise up into the air and fly from place to place like a bird. There is a funny fable about the bat founded upon this double character of beast and bird. An owl was once p-p-p-prowling about w-w-when he-- [. . .] so he caught him in his claws and was about to devour him. Upon this the bat began to squeal terribly, and he said to the owl, "pray, what do you take me for that you use me thus?"
Caroline, as substitute teacher, tells the children the full story of “Stone Soup.” The version she tell is possibly a modern version of the tale, but there’s no doubt that the story appeared at least as early as 1720, and by 1806 had appeared in English.
Nancy Oleson, almost caught reading a racy magazine, pretends to be reading Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” Harriet Oleson praises Nancy for reading one of “the classics,” but “Little Women”, though immensely popular at the time, had been published only 17 years earlier (1869) and was not old enough to have been called a classic. In fact all American literature was regarded as too young; Americans still looked to Europe as the center of literature and art.
In any case, someone referring to “the classics” in this time period generally used that phrase in its formal sense, to mean the study of ancient Greek and Latin works.
“Days of Sunshine, Days of Shadow, Parts 1 and 2”
Caroline gives Laura a glass bread-plate decorated with a quote from Matthew 6:11 (“Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread”).
“A Promise To Keep”
Reverend Alden says to Mr. Edwards, who is struggling to give up drinking, “But He held my hand, and I held His. Isaiah, take his hand.”
God’s help in the form of an outstretched hand is a common Bible theme and does not correspond to any particular verse, but Isaiah 41:13 is a good example of the image:
For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
Earlier in the episode, when Laura had offered her help to Mr. Edwards, we saw a closeup of Laura’s outstretched hand; and when Mr. Edwards reciprocated, the camera closed in on their right hands clasping, practically foreshadowing Reverend Alden’s later imagery: “Isaiah, take his hand.”
“A Faraway Cry”
In the gold-prospecting camp suffering from an epidemic of influenza, we hear Psalm 23 at one burial and John 11:25 (“I am the Resurrection and the Life”) at another.
In my compilation here I haven’t quoted the pieces of trivia available at the IMDB website, but the folks there have a piece of trivia for this episode well worth quoting, though it has nothing to do with the Bible or literature:
The influenza pandemic referenced in this episode is based on the Russian Flu pandemic from 1889-1890, which recurred several times between 1891 and 1895. The virus started in the Russian Empire and spread mainly through travel via railway and by sea, and was the first pandemic to spread worldwide. Of the 300-900 million estimated cases, an estimated 13,000 Americans and approximately 1 million people worldwide were killed by the virus. A 2005 study stated that it might not have been an influenza virus, but the human coronavirus OC43; a 2020 Danish study reached a similar conclusion, and stated the symptoms of the 1889-1890 pandemic as very similar to those of Covid-19.
“He Was Only Twelve, Part 2”
Charles reads Exodus 20:22-25 to a comatose James (the page of his Bible is filmed):
And the Lord said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings and thy peace offerings, thy sheep and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it.
At another point, Charles mentions Moses climbing Mt. Sinai, and the healing miracles of Jesus; he mentions also the healings that took place at Lourdes after the 1858 apparitions of the Virgin Mary there.
A list of all the Biblical themes evoked in this story, without being comprehensive, would include: the retreat to a wilderness place to be closer to God; the appearance of angels; the testing of Abraham’s faith when he brings his son Isaac to the mount of Moriah.
Of course the story is a direct callback to Laura’s first-season journey to the top of a mountain, where she meets an angel played by Ernest Borgnine.
“Times Are Changing, Part 2” (season opener)
At the burial of Royal Wilder, Reverend Alden reads John 14:1-3 —
Let not your heart be troubled. If ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
At the burial of Mr. Stark, Reverend Alden reads the Lord’s Prayer
Reverend Hale reads Laura some verses from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Give All To Love”:
Give all to love. Obey thy heart. Leave all for love. Yet hear me... yet. One word more, thy heart behooved, one pulse more, a firm endeavor. Keep thee--today, tomorrow, forever.
“Once Upon a Time”
Laura recites from her own later-published work, “Little House in the Big Woods”
She looked at Ma, gently rocking and knitting. She thought to herself, “This is now.” She was glad that the cozy house and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.
“For the Love of Blanche”
Mr. Edwards reads to Blanche the orangutan at bedtime from “The Sleeping Beauty”, perhaps the version by Charles Perrault?
“What are you doing, goody?” cried the princess. “I am spinning, my pretty,” replied the old woman, little thinking she was speaking to the princess. “Oh, how amusing it must be,” cried the princess. “I should like to try. Pray, oh, pray show me how to set about it.” But no sooner had she…
“Look Back To Yesterday”
Nothing from the Bible or books as far as I can tell.
“Bless All the Dear Children”
Laura recites from Luke’s Nativity story (see “Blizzard” above, and Luke 2:1-20). A bright star, alone in the sky, leads parents to a child lying in a manger. Also, a storekeeper has named four of his sons Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
“The Last Farewell”
Reverend Alden quotes Matthew 26:52 to Mr. Edwards, “He who takes up the sword shall perish by the sword.”
Mr. Montague recites the opening lines of a song, “The Wind and the Rain,” from Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night”:
When that I was and a little tiny boy (With hey, ho, the wind and the rain)