Alta, alta va la luna


Susan, vocals; Tina, violin; Howard, tambourine.

Source: Judy Frankel: Canticas Sephardis de Amor y Esperansa. Alternate texts can be found in Chants Judeo Espangols.


Alta, alta va la luna
La hora de amanicer
Hija hermoza sin ventura
Nunca llegue a nacer.

Yo era de quinze años
Empecí a hacer l’amor
Con un mancevo berbante
Que, a la fin él me dejó.

Yo era de vanda alta.
No savia de servir.
Por cayer con ti berbante,
Vene agora a sofrir.

Del amor yo non savía.
Tú mi embizatis a mí.
De el Dio lo topes mancebo
Pos lo que hizitis con mí.


High, high goes the moon.
At the hour of dawn
A girl without luck
Is better off not being born.

I was fifteen years old
When I began to know love
With a scoundrel of a man,
And in the end he deserted me.

I was from the upper class;
I did not know how to serve.
Because I fell for you, scoundrel,
I am suffering now.

I didn’t know about love,
You taught me about it.
May God punish you, boy,
For what you did to me.


A song about a young girl deceived by a scoundrel (berbante), Howard first heard this song on a recording by Judy Frankel, who learned it from a singer from the island of Rhodes. Rhodes, or Rodas, had a thriving Jewish population for several centuries, but by mid-20th century, most of it was gone, either through immigration or forced removal by the Nazis.