Oy, A Nakht A Sheyne!

Oh, What a Beautiful Night!
אױ, אַ נאַכט אַ שײנע!

Folksong. Textual variant published in 1913 by D. Einhorn in Der Pinkes; words and music published in 1927-1928 by Y.L. Cahan. Used by permission of the copyright owners, Ethnic Music Publishing Co., Inc.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Oh, what a beautiful night!
The night was so beautiful;
we sat together on a bench
as the moon began to fade.

On a bench, we sat
and happily past the time;
We talked and argued so much
and neither came up with a resolution.

— And what kind of resolution do you want, my love?
when I’m a boy who must present himself to the draft;
we cannot be engaged to marry
as you yourself well know.

— So give me that dear right hand of yours
and swear to me that you will love me truly;
Swear to me that you will not forget me
unto the darkness of the grave.

— My dear right hand I cannot give to you —
I swear to you that I truly love you!
I swear to you that I will not forget you
unto the darkness of my grave.

Oy, a nakht a sheyne!
Di nakht iz geven azoy sheyn;
Oyf a benkele zaynen mir gezesn,
Di levone hot genumen avekgeyn.

Oyf a benkele zaynen mir gezesn,
Mir hobn dort freylekh farbrakht;
Vifl reyd mlr hobn ayngetaynet,
Keyn end hobn mlr beyde nit gebrakht.

— Vos zhe far an end, libe, vilstu?
Az kh’bin a yingele un muz tsum zhereb* shteyn;
Keyn knas-mol kenen mir nit makhn,
Dos kenstu aleyn gut farshteyn.

— Gib zhe mir dayn rekhte hentele
Un shver mir tsu, az du host mikh emes lib;
Shver mir, az du vest mikh nisht fargesn
Bizn tog fun dem fintstern grib.

— Mayn rekhte hentele ken lkh dir nit gebn —
Kh’shver dir tsu, az ikh hob dikh emes lib!
Kh’shver dir, az ikh vel dikh nisht fargesn
Biz tsum tog fun mayn fintstern grib!

*zhereb — military conscription

אױ, אַ נאַכט אַ שײנע!
די נאַכט איז געװען אַזױ שײן;
אױף אַ בענקעלע זײַנען מיר געזעסן,
די לבֿנה האָט גענומען אַװעקגײן.

אױף אַ בענקעלע זײַנען מיר געזעסן,
מיר האָבן דאָרט פֿרײלעך פֿאַרבראַכט;
װיפֿל רײד מיר האָבן אײַנגעטענהט,
קײן ענד האָבן מיר בײדע ניט געבראַכט.

— װאָס זשע פֿאַר אַן ענד, ליבע, װילסטו?
אַז כ’בין אַ ייִנגעלע און מוז צום זשערעב שטײן;
קײן קנס־מאָל קענען מיר ניט מאָכן,
דאָס קענסטו אַלײן גוט פֿאַרשטײן.

— גיב זשע מיר דײַן רעכטע הענטעלע
און שװער מיר צו, אַז דו האָסט מיך אמת ליב;
שװער מיר, אַז דו װעסט מיך נישט פֿאַרגעסן
ביזן טאָג פֿון דעם פֿינצטערן גריב.

— מײַן רעכטע הענטעלע קען איך דיר ניט נעבן —
כ’שװער דיר צו, אַז איך האָב דיך אמת ליב!
כ’שװער דיר, אַז איך װעל דיך נישט פֿאַרגעסן
ביז צום טאָג פֿון מײַן פֿינצטערן גריב!

Song Title: Oy, A Nakht A Sheyne!

Composer: Unknown
Composer’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Lyricist: Unknown
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: Unknown
Time Period:20th century

This Song is Part of a Collection

Pearls of Yiddish Song Cover with Illustration of musicians playing instruments

Pearls of Yiddish Song

First published in 1988 as Pearls of Yiddish Song: Favorite Folk, Art and Theatre Songs, this anthology contains 115 songs. Some material had never been published, while others, included in rare song collections or sheet music, were largely inaccessible. The songs presented reflect Jewish life in Eastern Europe and the United States and depict childhood, love, family celebrations, poverty, work and struggle. There are also songs from the Hasidic and Maskilic movements, songs of Zion and of America, as well as songs from the Yiddish theater.

The title of this anthology derives from the weekly two-page feature column “Pearls of Yiddish Poetry,” which the compilers Yosl and Chana Mlotek initiated in 1970 in the Yiddish newspaper Der Forvertz (the Yiddish Daily Forward). Hundreds of readers from around the world — including authors, composers, singers, actors — became co-participants in this collective folk project and recalled melodies, lines, fragments, stanzas and their variants of songs, poems, and plays which they had heard in their youth. At first, readers sent in only written material. Later, they also taped songs on cassettes, many of whose melodies had, until then, never been recorded. They also identified and supplied missing information regarding lyricists, poets, and composers and described the circumstances surrounding the songs’ origins, their dissemination, diffusion and impact.

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