S'iz nito kayn nekht 01:51

Liner Notes

Yehudi Wyner’s S’iz nito kayn nekhtn was written in 1964 in response to a commission from the Cantors Assembly as part of a project involving seven other composers. The mission was to “frame simple but beautiful Yiddish folksongs in a new musical setting.”

The tune is in a typical eastern European prayer mode known as ahava raba, akin to the Arabic hidjaz mode. It betrays Hassidic origins or at least a Hassidic archetype, not only because of the mode (which is characteristic of much Hassidic song) but because of its general spirit. The text reveals a cynical bitterness, relieved only by flashes of hopeless humor: “Grab what you can today; in the next world you’ll do no better.” It echoes, though probably unwittingly, a famous German folk proverb: “In heaven they don’t have beer, so drink it while you’re here!”

The motoric, dissonant setting reflects the embittered mood of the poem and the joylessness of the tune. The harmonies and the contrapuntal intrusions may sound arbitrarily imposed on the melody, but they are in fact derived from the song and its underlying mode.


By: Neil W. Levin



Sung in Yiddish

There is no longer a yesterday,
Tomorrow still hasn’t come;
There is only a little bit of today—
Don’t spoil it with worries.

Grab yourself a drink,
As long as you’re still alive;
God willing, in the world to come
They won’t be handing you a drink


s’iz nito keyn nekhtn,
s’iz nokh nito der morgn;
s’iz nor do a pitsele haynt—
shtert im nit mit zorgn.

khapt arayn a shnepsl,
kol zman ir zent baym lebn:
mirtshem af yener velt,
vet men aykh nit gebn.  



Composer: Yehudi Wyner

Length: 01:51
Genre: Art Song

Performers: Re'ut Ben-Ze'ev, Soprano;  John Musto, Piano

Date Recorded: 12/01/2001
Venue: Lefrak Concert Hall/Colden Center for the Arts (E), Flushing, New York
Engineer: Lazarus, Tom
Assistant Engineer: Martyn, Tim

Additional Credits:

Translation: Eliyahu Mishulovin


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