Tres Hermanicas Eran


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

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


Tres ermanikas eran,
There were three little sisters,
Blankas de roz, ay ramas de flor! White visages, oh, like branches in bloom!
Tres ermanikas eran, tres ermanikas son. There were three little sisters, three sisters are they.
Las doz eran kazadas, la una se deperdió. Two of them were married; one went astray.
Su padre kun verguenza, a Rodes l’anviyo Her father, with shame, sent her to Rhodes.
En medio del kamino, castillo le fraguó. In the middle of the road he built her a castle
De piyedra menudika, xixikos alderedor With small stones and with little pebbles all around it.
En media del camino, la niña se durmió. In the middle of the road the girl fell asleep.
Por ayi pasó el kavalyero, tres bezicos le diyo. A nobleman passing that way gave her three kisses;
Uno de kada kara, y uno al korason, One on each cheek and one on her heart.
“Si el mi kerido dave, matada mereco yo.” “If my beloved finds out, I deserve to die.”
“No te mates, mi kerida, el tu kerido so yo.” “Don’t destroy yourself, my darling, for I am your beloved.”


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.