A Nigndl

A Little Melody
‏אַ ‏ניגונדל

Words by Shike Driz (1908-1971); music by Saul Berezovsky (1908-1975) and Josh Waletzky are presented. Joseph Schrogin also wrote music to the 1965 poem, entitled A nigndl (A Little Tune). Both the Waletzky and Berezovsky musical settings may be downloaded by PDF. Berezovky’s setting, entitled Dem zeydns nigndl (Grandfather’s Little Tune), includes a rearrangement of Driz’s text: for each verse, lines 5-8 of Shike Driz’s text are sung first, followed by lines 1-4. Josh Waletzky’s setting, entitled Dem zeydns nign (Grandfather’s Melody), was recorded by the composer on the album of new Yiddish songs, Vaserl, released in 1977.


Illustration of musical notes from the books


Pour me, my dear,
a goblet of wine,
and I will drink to your health.
I heard tell
that in the old wine,
grandfather himself
hid a little melody:

Pour me, my dear,
a glass of festive wine,
and I will drink up to all my loved ones.
I’ve heard tell –
And it’s probably no lie
that grandfather’s melody
lies in the second cup:

Pour me, my dear,
the very best festive wine,
and let us drink a toast to the melody itself.
Those with knowledge say,
and they know,
that there’s where it must lie –
At the bottom of the third cup –
The melody of melodies:

Gis mir on mayn tayere,
A bekher mit vayn –
Lekhayim vel ikh trinken,
Gezunt zolstu mir zayn!
Gehert hob ikh dertseyln,
Az in dem vayn dem altn
Hot aleyn der zeydenyu
A nigndl bahaltn:

Gis mir on, mayn tayere,
A glezele mit yayin!
Far ale mayn libe
Vel ikh oystrinken lekhayim!
Gehert hob ikh dertseyln –
Un s’iz mistam keyn lign,
Az in der tsveyter koyse
Ligt dem zeydns nign.

Gis mir on, mayn tayere,
Dem same best yayin,
Lomir take far dem nign
Oystrinken lekhayim!
Gehert hob ikh dertseyln,
Az dortn muz er lign –
Az oyfn don fun driven kos –
Der nign-she-benign.

גיס מיר אָן, מײַן טײַערע,
אַ בעכערל מיט װײַן —
לחײם װעל איך טרינקען,
געזונט זאָלסטו מיר זײַן
!געהערט האָב איך דערצײלן,
אַז אין דעם װײַן דעם אַלטן
האָט אַלײן דער זײדעניו
אַ ניגונדל באַהאַלטן.

גיס מיר אָן, מײַן טײַערע,
אַ גלעזעלע מיט יין!
פֿאַר אַלע מײַנע ליבע
װעל איך אױסטרינקען לחײם!
געהערט האָב איך דערצײלן —
און ס׳איז מסתּם קײן ליגן,
אַז אין דער צװײטער כּוסע
ליגט דעם זײדנס ניגון.

גיס מיר אָן, מײַן טײַערע,
דעם סאַמע בעסטן יין,
לאָמיר טאַקע פֿאַר דעם ניגון
אױסטרינקען לחײם!
געהערט האָב איך דערצײלן,
אַז דאָרטן מוז ער ליגן —
אַז אױפֿן דנאָ פֿון דריטן כּוס —
דער ניגון שבניגון.

Song Title: A Nigndl

Composer: Saul Berezovsky
Composer’s Yiddish Name: שאול בערעזאָװקסי
Lyricist: Shike Driz
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: שיקע דריז
Time Period: Unspecified
Additional Composer: Josh Waletzky
Additional Composer’s Yiddish Name: יהודה װאַלעטסקי

This Song is Part of a Collection

Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song

The Songs of Generations: New Pearls of Yiddish Song anthology comprises songs that were either never printed before or appeared in rare and inaccessible publications — sometimes in different versions and without proper sources. Most of the songs in this book were submitted by readers of Chana and Yosl’s column “Perl fun der yidisher poezye” (Pearls of Yiddish Poetry) in the Yiddish newspaper Der Forverts (The Forward), initiated in October, 1970. Over 25 years, thousands of songs were collected in correspondence and on cassettes from readers throughout the world, and they represent a veritable national Yiddish song archive. Chana Mlotek, in her introduction, writes, “In the course of years the inquiries, contributions and enthusiasm of these readers have kept our own interest unflagging and have reinforced our dedication to this effort. And in recent years our participants have also been augmented by new readers from the former Soviet Russia, who receive our newspaper there or from newly-arrived immigrants in this country and Israel.”

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