Credits

Susan, vocals;
Tina, violin;
Howard, guitar;
Steve, caxixi, polvaraca

Sources: Chants Judeo Espangols (also in Romances Judeo-españoles de Oriente)

Ladino

Tres hermanicas eran,
¡Blancas de roz,
ay ramas de flor!

Tres hermanicas eran,
tres hermanicas son.

Las dos eran cazadas,
la una se deperdió.
Su padre con verguensa,
a Rodes l’anbió.
En medio del camino,
castillo le fraguó.
De piedra menudica,
xixicos al deredor.

Varón es que lo supo,
a la mar ya se echó.
Nadando y navegando,
al castillo arrivó.
-Echame tus entrensados,
arriva suviré.

Ya l’echo sus entrensados,
arriva lo suvió.

Ya le quitó acomeres,
agua le demandó.

Agua no había en casa,
a la fuente salió.
En media del camino,
la niña se durmió.

Por alli pasó el cavallero,
tres bezicos le dio.
Uno de cada cara,
y uno al coraçón,

Si el mi querido dave,
matada mereco yo.
No te mates, mi querida,
el tu querido so yo.

English

They were three little sisters,
White visages, oh,
like branches in bloom!

They were three little sisters,
they are three little sisters.

Two of them were married,
one of them went astray.
Her father, with shame,
sent her to Rhodes.
In the middle of the way,
he built her a castle,
With small stones and
with little pebbles all around it.

A man found out
and he went to sea.
Swimming and sailing
he reached the castle.
-Let down your tresses
and I will climb up.

She let down her tresses
and he climbed up.

She brought out food for him
and he asked her for water.

There was no water in the house,
she went out to the fountain.
In the middle of the road,
the girl fell asleep.

The nobleman passed that way, he gave her three kisses:
One on each cheek,
and one on her heart.

If my beloved finds out,
I deserve to die.
Don’t destroy yourself, my darling,
for I am your beloved.

Description

Multi-verse ballads, known as romances, are centuries old in Sephardic culture, and constitute one of the clearest links to the Spanish roots of the Sephardic people and their culture. This song has many variants, both of melody and texts, though the gist of the song, a father’s disappointment in an unmarried daughter, is a common theme. This melody has a particularly Spanish character; it was recorded on the island of Rhodes, once home to a thriving Jewish population. Howard first heard this song on a recording made by the late Judy Frankel, who learned it from a singer from Rhodes.