Shnel Loyfn Di Reder

The Wheels Turn Fast
שנעל לױפֿן די רעדער

Words are by Dovid Edelshtat (1866-1892). This is another offshoot of his poem Der arbeter (see “S’falt a shney”). Melodies were written by Jacob Schaefer (1888-1936) and Lazar Weiner (1897-1982). The melody by Weiner, which was written for the Workmen’s Circle record Dos goldene land (compiled by Yosl Mlotek), was transcribed by the compilers. It was published in Songs of the American Jewish Experience, compiled by Neil Levin, Chicago, 1976.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


The wheels turn fast
machines bang wildly,
it is dirty and hot in the shop.
My head is jumbled
and everything goes dark,
dark from tears and sweat.

By now, I feel as though
no part of my body is intact.
My chest is broken and compressed,
and from the pain, I cannot
bend my back.
At night, my cough will not let me sleep.

The boss runs around
like a wild animal,
driving us sheep to the slaughter.
Oh, how long will you wait,
how long will you endure it,
my brother workers, wake up!

Shnel loyfn di reder,
Vild klapn mashinen,
In shap iz shmutsik un heys,
Der kop vert fartumlt
In oygn vert fintster,
Fintster fun trern un shveys.

lkh fil shoyn bay zikh
Keyn gantsn eyver,
Tsebrokhn, tsedrikt iz mayn brust,
lkh ken shoyn far veytik
Mayn rukn nit boygn,
Bay nakht lozt nit shlofn der hust.

S’loyft um der mayster,
A khaye a vilde,
Er traybt tsu der shkhite di shof.
O, vi lang vet ir vartn,
Vi lang vet ir duldn,
Arbeter-brider, vakht oyf!

שנעל לױפֿן די רעדער,
װילד קלאַפּן מאַשינען,
אין שאָפּ איז שמוציק און הײס,
דער קאָפּ װערט פֿאַרטומלט,
אין אױגן װערט פֿינצטער,
פֿינצטער פֿון טרערן און שװײס.

איך פֿיל שױן בײַ זיך
קײן גאַנצן אבֿר,
צעבראָכן, צעדריקט איז מײַן ברוסט,
איך קען שױן פֿאַר װײטיק
מײַן רוקן ניט בױגן,
בײַ נאַכט לאָזט ניט שלאָפֿן דער הוסט.

סלױפֿט אום דער מײַסטער,
אַ חיה אַ װילדע,
ער טרײַבט צו דער שחיטה די שאָף.
אָ, װי לאַנג װעט איר װאַרטן,
װי לאַנג װעט איר דולדן,
אַרבעטער-ברידער, װאַכט אױף!

Song Title: Shnel Loyfn Di Reder

Composer: Jacob Schaefer
Composer’s Yiddish Name: יעקבֿ שײפֿער
Lyricist: Dovid Edelshtat
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: דוד עדעלשטאַט
Time Period: Unspecified
Additional Composer: Lazar Weiner

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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