You Saddle the Rat and I'll Jump On
December 19, 2019 6:09 AM   Subscribe

At some point on the 70's or 80's I read a book in which one of the characters learned the order of the Gospels by memorizing the following phrase: "Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you saddle the rat and I'll jump on." Where is it from?

I remember literally nothing else about the book, not even genre (although given my reading preferences it is likely either a horror or science fiction novel). I thought maybe I had invented the memory, but now one other person says they remember the phrase as well. Literally the only Google result is when I blogged about it two years ago.

Has anyone else in the world ever heard this phrase? What the heck is it from???
posted by Lokheed to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
While I can't help on the book, the phrase is a modified parody of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
posted by zamboni at 6:20 AM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Ooh, that’s helpful! I have an English friend who might recognize this...
posted by Lokheed at 6:29 AM on December 19, 2019

I definitely remember reading this phrase in a kids’ chapter book in the 80s! I’ll keep thinking about which book it might have been!
posted by corey flood at 6:38 AM on December 19, 2019

I remember that too!! I think that was from a series of books called "The Great Brain" by John Dennis Fitzgerald, about some kids growing up in Utah in the 1890s. Does that sound familiar to you?
posted by mccxxiii at 7:04 AM on December 19, 2019

I found a couple of examples of people using a similar phrase: an Imgur comment and a blog post.

It does seem like the kind of thing that could be in one of the Great Brain books, but I read all of them to my kids not that many years ago and I don't recall coming across it.
posted by Redstart at 7:21 AM on December 19, 2019

I have heard it too (and grew up in the 70s/80s), though with a slight variation: "You saddle a rat and I'll hop on." I can't remember the book but my memory has a vintagy feel to it, as though the book characters would have been in the past, and that this would have been an old-fashioned rhyme.
posted by xo at 7:30 AM on December 19, 2019

If it wasn't The Great Brain, did it maybe come from "The Dark is Rising" series by Susan Cooper? I remember those books had little bits of verse at the beginning of each one, and the characters were children who may have been learning/saying a little rhyme like that.

Those stories were fantasy genre, but there was a Christianity element that was central to the whole thing, and it's possible that some reference to the New Testament could have been made that way.
posted by mccxxiii at 7:47 AM on December 19, 2019

I am so relieved to see other references that specifically say “rat” and not “horse”. I was afraid my brain had made that bit up.
posted by Lokheed at 9:31 AM on December 19, 2019

I'm so relieved that somebody else in the world remembers this! As soon as I read the title of your post I knew exactly what you were talking about, but I had almost convinced myself that it was something I had picked up in day care VBS when I was little...
posted by mccxxiii at 9:44 AM on December 19, 2019

Could it be The Bad Times of Irma Baumlein? She visited a friend's house who had brothers with those names. I'll try to find it and confirm.
posted by mefireader at 10:56 AM on December 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

Here it is.
posted by mefireader at 11:38 AM on December 19, 2019 [7 favorites]

Wow! That has to be it. I have no idea why I would have read that particular book. Given the year it was published, and that there was a Scholastic edition, I would be willing to bet that I had a grade school teacher with that book on the shelf in their classroom. Around that age I would literally read *anything*, especially if it kept me from having to talk to other people. On that count I haven't changed much in the past forty or so years...

Thank you so much!
posted by Lokheed at 11:48 AM on December 19, 2019

Wonderful! I have no memory of reading that book, but now I want to get a copy of it and see if it will come back to me. Thank you!!!
posted by mccxxiii at 3:24 PM on December 19, 2019

You're welcome! Definitely a Scholastic purchase from my heavy reading days. You can check out an online version at the Internet Archive.
posted by mefireader at 4:32 PM on December 19, 2019

I definitely remember that passage but have no memory of that book title and would never have come up with it. Thanks mefireader for saving me from a sleepless night.
posted by bink at 11:47 AM on December 20, 2019 [1 favorite]

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