A Yiddish Khad-gadyo Performed by Pam Singer

A Yiddish Khad-gadyo
Performance by Pam Singer, England
Commentary by Itzik Gottesman

During a break in the KlezNorth Festival in England, March 2014, I recorded on video a Yiddish version of Khad Gadyo from Pam Singer. As she says in the video, she learned the song in I. L. Peretz Shul in Winnipeg in the early 1960s. She remembers half the song (see the end of this posting for all lyrics).

As we had presented in a previous Yiddish Song of the Week post, here is a video of “Uncle Sidney” singing part of the same song:

In the comments to that previous post, Nadia Dehan from Paris pointed us to a printed version of the song with all the words in the Lider bukh: gezamlter repertoir fun Frayhayṭ Gezangs Fareyn (Chicago, Ill. 1923). Please note that all the Yiddish words that originate from Hebrew/Aramaic have been “Yiddishized” in this collection.

From the website of Zemereshet, זמרשת we learn that the song’s title is “Khad gadyo” and was written by a fascinating figure named Yitskhok Pirozshnikov, the man who first popularized the concertina. Zemereshet provides all the Yiddish verses, but only a recording of the first verse in a Hebrew translation.

Zemereshet also believes the song first appeared in the Haggadah –
הגדה של פסח מיט זשארגאנישער איבערזעצונג…און אויך א פסחדיקע לידעלע חד־גדיא מיט נאטן published by Pirozshnikov in Vilna in 1901.

The composer of the song, Yitskhok Pirozshnikov, was an extraordinary man. Born in 1859 on an island in the Dneiper river, Khortits, he became a kapelmeister in the Russian military in Vilna, and at the same time choir conductor of the Jewish Teacher’s Institute. He developed a new, easier way to play the concertina, allowing the instrument to be accessible to far more people. As a result all the Russian Pedagogical and Teacher Institutes in the region began to teach concertina. He was the first person ever to tour as a concertina virtuoso including Europe, America, Israel. He then left music for a while to set up a printing press in Vilna, and among his publications was the first collection of Yiddish proverbs in book form.

PR PicYitskhok Pirozshnikov

In 1909 he came to the U.S. and became active in the Jewish music world again. He edited the music section of the Yiddish Forverts newspaper. He was the first conductor and choir leader of a Workmen’s Circle chorus in NY and then in Paterson, NJ. He composed at least 50 Yiddish songs for Jewish school children. No collection of his Yiddish songs appeared in book form. He died in NY in 1933. On the website Museum of Family History, in the section “Lives of the Yiddish Theater”, one can read more biographical information.

Below are the lyrics to Singer’s partial version, followed by the complete version by Pirozshnikov (since we do not have the original Pirozshnikov Haggadah, we have not changed the words as they appear on the Zemereshet website).

Pam Singer’s version of Khad-gadyo:

A mayse mit a tsigele,
hert oys ovois-uvonim
Der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.

Di umshildike tsigele
zi shpringt arum in hoyz.
Plutsem kumt a beyze kats,
un khapt un frest es oyf.

Di tsigele, di tsigele, hert oys ovis-uvonim.
Der foter hot batsolt far it tsvey gildn
mezumonim.
Khad-gad-yo, khad-gad-yo.

Der hunt hot faynt gehat di kats
dos treft zikh al-pi-rov.
Er klert nit lang un khapt ir on
un makht fun ir a sof.

Der hunt iz dokh dem shtekn vert,
er iz dokh beyz un shlekht.
Der shtekn git im klep vi bob
un meynt er iz gerekht.

Di tsigele, di tsigele, hert oys ovois-uvonim
Der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.
Khad-gad-yo, khad-gad-yo.

Translation:

A tale with a little kid (young goat)
listen up fathers and sons.
The father paid for it
two gulden cash.

The innocent kid,
she jumps around the house.
Suddenly a mean cat comes
and catches it and eats it up.

The kid, the kid, listen up fathers and sons.
The father paid for it two guilden cash.
Khad-gad yo, khad gad yo.

The dog hated the cat,
as happens most of the time,
He doesn’t think long and catches it
and puts an end to her.

The dog deserves the rod,
since he is so mean and bad.
The stick strikes him as beans,
and thinks that he is in the right.

The kid, the kid, listen up fathers and sons.
The father paid for it two guilden cash.
Khad-gad yo, khad gad yo.

singer1singer2singer3

Yitskhok Pirozshnikov’s Khad-gadyo (from the Zemereshet website):

A peysekhdike lidele
vil ikh zingen mit a nign:
A muser far di eltere
un far kinder a fargenign.

A mayse with a tsigele
hert oys ovus-uvonim,
der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.

Di umshuldike tsigele,
zi shpringt arayn in hoyf.
Plutsling kumt a beyze kats
un khapt un frest ir of.

Refrain:

Di tsigele, di tsigele
hert oys ovos-uvonim,
der foter hot batsolt far ir
tsvey gildn mezumonim.

Der hunt hot faynt di kats
dos treft zikh al-pi-rov
Er klert nit lang un khapt ir on
un makht fun ir a sof.

Der hunt iz dokh dem shtekn vert:
er iz dokh beyz un shlekht;
Der shtekn git im klep, vi bob,
un meynt, az er iz gerekht.

Refrain: Di tsigele, di tsigele….

Di fayer hot di gantse zakh
arayngebrakht in tsorn;
Der shtekn falt im tsu arayn
un iz farbrent gevorn.

Dos vaser libt dem fayer nit
zey zenen nit keyn por.
Er fleytst dem fayer arum un arum
un lesht im oys biz gor.

Refrain: Di tsigele, di tsigele

Der oks farshteyt keyn khokhmes nit;
zayn kop iz nor in mogn.
Er kumt tsum vaser un trinkt es oys.
ver hot im vos tsu zogn?

Der shoykhet git mitn khalef a fir –
funem oks iz nisht gevorn.
Der shoykhet meynt, az yedes oks
iz nor farn khalef geborn.

Der shoykhet hot bakumen zayn loyn,
un gor nit oyf katoves.
Er hot mit zayn lebn batsolt zayn shuld
aleyn dem malekh-hamoves.

Nor got, der har, hot shoyn bashtimt,
di umrekht tsu fardarbn.
Un der vos brengt durkhoys dem toyt
zol aleyn glaykh shtarbn.

Refrain: Di tsigele, di tsigele…

Translation:

A Passover song
I want to sing with a melody:
A lesson for the elders
and for the children – a pleasure.

Khad-gadyo! Khad-gadyo!

A tale about a kid
listen fathers and sons,
the father had paid for her
two guilden in cash.

The innocent kid
jumps into the yard.
Suddenly comes an evil cat
and catches it and eats it up.

REFRAIN

The kid, the kid
listen fathers and sons,
the father had paid for it
two guildens cash.

The dog hates the cat,
as happens most of the time.
He doesn’t think long and catches it
and puts an end to her.

The dog deserves the stick;
he is so mean and bad;
The beatings are as many as beans
and he believes, that he is in the right.

Refrain: A kid, a kid…

Fire was so disturbed by the whole thing
he became furious.
He got a hold of the stick
and burnt it.

Water does not love fire;
they are not a pair.
He floods the fire all around,
and puts it out completely.

Refrain: A kid, a kid

The ox does not joke around;
his head is in his gut.
He comes to the water and drinks it up.
Who is going to tell him otherwise?

The slaughterer give a slice with his blade
and the ox is no more.
The slaughterer thinks that every ox
was given life just for his blade.

REFRAIN..a kid, a kid

The slaughterer got his reward
and we are not kidding.
With his life he paid his debt
to the angel of death.

But God, the master, had determined
this injustice to corrupt.
And he who only brings death
met his own death.

REFRAIN: A kid, a kid

PR1 PR2 PR3 PR4 PR5 PR6

3 Responses to “A Yiddish Khad-gadyo Performed by Pam Singer”

  1. Another recorded version of this song, only the first verse can be found at the website of the Jewish Music Research Centre, along with a detailed history of the song Had-Gadyo.
    http://www.jewish-music.huji.ac.il/content/had-gadya
    recording by Michael Lukin.

  2. […] Presenting rare field recordings of master Yiddish folksingers. « A Yiddish Khad-gadyo Performed by Pam Singer […]

  3. another version, recorded at Seder tonight: https://youtu.be/pkF0KKDz1mQ

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