On this page there are links to all the song settings. For each song there is the music, any links to performances, and the text in Yiddish, as well as a transliteration and translation. Unless stated the translations are mine.

Mordecai Gebirtig

Mayn Harts iz ful mit shrek
מײַן האַרץ איז פֿול מיט שרעק
My heart is full of dread

This is a song cycle of eleven songs composed during the lockdown in 2020 with texts from Gebirtig’s posthumous collection Mayn Fayfele.

Most of the poems, all of which were unpublished in Gebirtig’s lifetime, were probably written as he was recovering from heart trouble in 1907 or 1908, when he was around 30 years old.

The cycle can be performed as a whole or in parts.

Mayn dinst zikh ekt – My service is ending – מײַן דינסט זיך עקט

The first song of the cycle shows the poet concluding his life was all a childish game.

Shoyn fule zeks vokhn – Six Whole Weeks – שױן פֿולע זעקס װאָכן

Six weeks in bed and he feels like a rich child – but he needs to return to the dusty workshop.

Mayn harts iz ful mit shrek – My heart is full of dread – מײַן האַרץ איז פֿול מיט שרעק

The poet’s heart is full of dread – a small spot will become a cloud and then a storm.

A heyse trer – A hot tear – אַ הײסע טרער

The poet speaks to a old gravedigger to ask him to warm his grave with a hot tear

Mayn Harts – My heart – מײַן האַרץ

His heart is like a fish in a brook; but soon the brook will dry up and the fish won’t swim.

Kum Gikher – Come quickly – קום גיכער

There is a black border around his heart – his heart and the night are still.

Tsu dayn geburtstog – For your birthday – צו דײַן געבורטסטאָג

If you known what life would bring when you were born, you would go back quickly.

Es falt shoyn tsu di nakht – It is already night – עס פֿאַלט שױן צו די נאַכט

The sun will soon go down – but he has made good use of his day

Nokh halber nakht – After half the night – נאָך האַלבער נאַכט

He is up half the night thinking – until the candle burns down

Dos eybike lebn – Eternal life – דאָס אײביקע לעבן

We will not cheat death – but he wishes that someone would discover eternal life.

Genug geveynt – Enough of weeping – גענוג געװײנט

Enough sad songs. He will now sing a little march and you will laugh until you cry.

Other songs by Gebirtig

Harbst – Autumn – האַרבסט

In a wood when winter comes, it is as if one king replaces another.

Dos Beymele – The little tree – דאָס בײמעלע

When winter comes the tree is bare and a big cat scrambles up it and mews plaintively.

Slikhes – Forgiveness – סליחות

After all the horrors the world has seen, when Jews pray to God they will not find him

Akhdes – Unity – אחדות

A plea for unity on the fragmented Polish Jewish Left between the wars.

Nokh a hoyz – One more house – נאָך אַ הױז

A song about property speculation in the Cracow of the 1930s

Der farshterter seder – The disturbed seder – דער פֿאַרשטערטער סדר

Avreml the poor carrier feels like a king at the seder – until he remembers the cart needs fixing

Peysekh kumt – Passover is coming – פּסח קומט

Passover is coming and the poor tradesman needs to buy food and clothes – but the rain and snow won’t stop

Di ershte seder-nakht – The first seder night – די ערשטע סדר־נאַכט

It is the first night of Passover but mother and children are at the Passover seder without the father of the family who has gone to the war and hasn’t come back

Der general shtrayk – The general strike – דאָס גענעראַל שטרײַק

Gebirtig’s first published song – from 1905 – imagines a general strike

Tsum ershtn may – For May Day – צום ערשטן מײַ

The sun is shining ! Leave the factories and celebrate May Day !

Undzer tsil – Our goal – אונדזער ציל

Our goal is far away – but the journey will be worth it

Avrom Sutskever

Di blayene platn fun Roms drukeray – The lead plates at the Rom Press – די בלײַענע פּלאַטן פֿון ראָמס דרוקערײַ

In a poem written in the ghetto, the lead plates at the Rom Press in Vilna are to be used to make bullets

Settings from Sutskever’s collection Lider fun Togbukh

Bay tog a levaye – A funeral during the day – בײַ טאָג אַ לװײה

A funeral during the day, a concert at night, misfortune balances luck like a pair of milk pails

Tsu vemen geher ikh ? – To whom do I belong – צו װעמען געהער איך

Do I belong to me or to you ? Only when I count your hairs one by one do I belong to everyone

A Lutski

Bald vet zayn a regn – It will soon rain – באַלד װעט זײַן אַ רעגן

It will soon rain – a piece of paper will get wet – but the sun comes out and says it was all a joke

Avrom Reyzen

Doyres fun der tsukunft – Future Generations – דורות פֿון דער צוקונפֿט

Our songs will sound sad to a future generation – they were composed in secrecy hiding from the enemy