Robert and Molly Freedman Jewish Music Archive

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Nor a Mame (Only a Mother)

Performer: Clara Crasner (1902-1998)
From a tape made by Molly and Bob Freedman in 1975.
Freedman Catalog # C-28(a)

Audio Clips:

    Excerpt (12 seconds)
    .aiff format, 278 KB .wavformat, 72 KB
    Full Selection (2 minutes, 18 seconds)
    .aiff format, 2,975 KB .wavformat, 762 KB

NOTE ON FILE SIZE AND FORMATS: The .aiff format can be read by most browsers and equipment configurations; some but not all of the newer browsers can read the Microsoft ADPCM format (.wav) presented here. These are large files and will take a long time (about 7 minutes per 1,000 KB) to download on a 28.8 Kbaud modem connection. We suggest that you test your browser with one of the smallest .wav format excerpts to preview the song and determine if your browser supports this compressed format before attempting to download any of the other sound files.

"Nor A Mame" is a lullaby written by David Einhorn (1886-1973) and first published in 1917 under the title, "Ayle lyule." The poem was sung to several melodies. Adopted by the folk, the composer of the version heard here is unknown.

Sung poignantly by Molly's mother, Clara Crasner, whose own mother died when Clara was a teenager, the sense of the song is that while almost anything can be purchased for money, a mother is unique (only one in the world). Fortunate is the child that has its mother and also its own cradle.

"The song is so much a part of me, I've been singing it forever. Clara sang it to me when I was a little girl," Molly recalled.

(Click on image of Yiddish text to view enlargement)

Ay-li, lyu-li, ay-li, lyu-li,
Shlof, mayn tayerer, in ru.
Voyl iz dem vos hot a mamen
Un a vigele dertsu,
Ay-li, lyu-lyu, lyu.

Altsding ken men nokh gefinen,
Altsding krigt men nokh far gelt.
Nor a mame zi iz eyne -
Mer nit eyne oyf der velt.
Ay-li, lyu-li-lyu.

Shlof, mayn tayerer, mayn liber,
Makh di oygn tsu un ru.
Gut iz dem vos hot a mamen
Un a vigele dertsu.
Ay-li, lyu-li-lyu.

Dos iz dokh a gots matone,
Vemen es iz nor bashert;
Vey iz dem vos hot keyn mamen
Oyf der groyser, vister erd...
Ay-li, lyu-li-lyu!

Ay-li, lyu-li, ay-li, lyu-li,
Vi der tsar zol zayn nit groys,
Tomed ken men im farvign
In der momes shoys.
Ay-li-, lyu-li, lyu!

Ay-li, lyu-li, ay-li, lyu-li,
Vi di zind zol zayn nit shver,
Opvashn vet tomed kenen
Zi-der mames reyne trer.
Ay-li, lyu-li-lyu!


Ay-li, lyu-li, ay-li, lyu-li, sleep my dear one, in peace.
Happy is he who has a mother, and a little cradle as well.
Ay-li, lyu-li-lyu.

Anything can still be found; you can still get anything for money.
But a mother -- she is one -- there's just one in all the world.
Ay-li, lyu-li-lyu.

Sleep, my dear one, my beloved, close your eyes and rest.
Happy is he who has a mother and a little cradle too.
Ay-li, lyu-li-lyu.

For that is a gift from God to whomever is fated to receive it.
Woe to him who has no mother in the wide and empty world.

However great your sorrow, it can always be rocked away in your mother's lap.
However great your sins, they can always be washed away by your mother's pure tears.
Ay-li, lyu-li-lyu.

(Click on image of sheet music to view enlarged version)