Tsum Hemerl

To the Hammer
צום העמערל

This poem by Avrom Reyzen (1875-1953), music by Abraham M. Bernstein (1865-1932), describing the hard plight of the cobbler, became a popular worker’s song in Europe and the United States.

Illustration of musical notes from the books


Oh little hammer, little hammer, bang!
Strike harder, one nail after another.
There’s no bread in the house,
only troubles and endless suffering.

Oh little hammer, little hammer, bang!
The clock will soon strike midnight!
My eyes keep closing –
Give me strength, dear God, help me!

Oh little hammer, little hammer, bang!
Strike the nails harder, pound faster!
By morning, they must be done,
the rich woman’s daughter’s shoes.

Oh little hammer, little hammer, bang!
Don’t slip out of my hand.
You are my sole provider,
without you I would starve to death!

O, hemerl, hemerl, klap!
Shlog shtarker a tshvok nokh a tshvok.
Keyn broyt iz in shtub shoyn nito,
Nor tsores un leyd on an ek.

O, hemerl, hemerl, klap!
Der zeyger, er shlogt shoyn bald tsvelf!
Di oygn zey makhn zikh tsu —
Gib koyekh, o gotenyu, helf!

O, hemerl, hemerl, klap!
Shlog shtarker di tshvekes, shlog gikh!
Biz morgn muz fartik shoyn zayn
Der gviretes tekhterls shikh.

O, hemerl, hemerl, klap!
Nit glitsh fun mayn hant zikh aroys!
Mayn eyntsiker shpayzer bistu,
Fun hunger on dir gey ikh oys!

אָ, העמערל, העמערל, קלאַפּ!
שלאָג שטאַרקער אַ טשװאָק נאָך א טשװאָק.
קײן ברױט איז אין שטוב שױן ניטאָ,
נאָר צרות און לײד אָן אַן עק.

אָ, העמערל, העמערל, קלאַפּ!
דער זײגער, ער שלאָגט שױן באַלד צװעלף!
די אױגן זײ מאַכן זיך צו —
גיב כּוח, אַ גאָטעניו, העלף!

אָ, העמערל, העמערל, קלאַפּ!:
שלאָג שטאַרקער די טשװעקעס, שלאָג גיך!
ביז מאָרגן מוז פֿאַרטיק שױן זײַן
דער גבֿירהטעס טעכטערלס שיך.

אָ, העמערל, העמערל, קלאַפּ!
ניט גליטש פֿון מײַן האַנט זיך אַרױס!
מײַן אײנציקער שפּײַזער ביסטו,
פֿון הונגער אָן דיר גײ איך אױס!

Song Title: Tsum Hemerl

Composer: Abraham M. Bernstein
Composer’s Yiddish Name: אַבֿרהם משה בערנשטײן
Lyricist: Avrom Reyzen
Lyricist’s Yiddish Name: אבֿרהם רײזען
Time Period:20th century

This Song is Part of a Collection

Mir Trogn Song Book Cover with Illustrations

Mir Trogn A Gezang: Favorite Yiddish Songs

First published in 1972, Mir Trogn A Gezang: Favorite Yiddish Songs was reprinted six more times (in 1977, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1988, 2000) due to popular demand. The songs in this anthology represent a sampling of beloved folk and well-known Yiddish songs, many of which are scattered in various song collections; some appear in very rare and inaccessible collections; and some were never before published. Folk songs comprise about a third of this volume and were selected mainly on the basis of popularity and sometimes for their historic significance. Needless to say, they are only representative of the vast, rich treasure of Yiddish folk material. The selection was made not only on the basis of personal preference, but in the knowledge they are favorites of many who sing these songs. Most of the songs represent the repertoire that was sung at Yiddish summer camps, May 1st demonstrations and at social gatherings. Many songs were introduced to American Jewry by Jewish immigrants who came to the United States after World War II, for whom these songs had been favorites in Poland and other East European communities destroyed by the Nazis.

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