Morenica

Morenica  (Morenika or La Morena) is a favorite Sephardic wedding song that was likely composed before the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492.  The song was documented in 1625 in Gonzalo Correa’s book “Arte de la lengua castellana española” .  The song is a testament to the rich Jewish culture that existed in Spain before the Inquisition and the tradition that brought words and music to the modern era.

The sailors call me “dark one”; if they call me once more, I will go with them

The song, composed in so-called Judeo-spanish, is about a “dark girl”, a brunette whose skin has been darkened by the sun – in fact a poetic figure that is common to old Spanish poetry.  The song ends with “Morena a mi me llaman los marineros; Si otra vez me llaman, me voy yo con ellos. [The sailors call me “dark one”; if they call me once more, I will go with them”]. Some historians (Margit Frenk among others) believe that the song may be inspired by a similar dark girl mentioned in the Biblical “Song of Songs” (1:5).

The first video features 3s Amis, a world music group (Bruna Sardo – voice, Samuele Lorenzini – guitar, and Alberto de Grandis – drums). The second video features well-known Israeli bassist and composer Avishai Cohen.

References:

Frenk, Margit. (1987). Corpus de la lírica popular hispánica (Siglos XV a XVII). (Nos. 138-142). Madrid.
Weich-Shahak, S. (2006). En Buen Siman! Panorama del Repertorio Musical Sefaradi. Jerusalem: Pardes.
Ascher, Gloria J. (2001). Sephardic Songs, Proverbs, and Expressions: A Continuing Tradition”. Shofar: An Interdiscipliary Journal of Jewish Studies, 19,4: 25-39.

http://www.jewishfolksongs.com/en/jewish-folklore#morenica

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Morenika, they call me
my skin was pure white
from the fire of the summer sun
I am dark
Chorus:
Morenika
so very beautiful
in your eyes – a burning fire
my heart is all yours
Morenika , they call me
all those who go down to the sea
if again they call me
I will go with them again
Morenika, they call me
son to the ruling king
if he calls me again
I will follow him

 

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