The Ballad of the Four Sons
(to the tune of "Clementine")
written by Ben Aronin in 1948
Said the father to the children
"At the Seder you will dine,
You will eat your fill of matzoh,
You will drink four cups of wine."
Now this father had no daughters,
But his sons they numbered four,
One was wise, and one was wicked,
One was simple and a bore.
And the fourth was sweet and winsome,
He was young and he was small,
While his brothers asked the questions,
He could scarcely speak at all.
Said the wise one to his father
"Would you please explain the laws.
Of the customs of the Seder
Will you please explain the cause?"
And the father proudly answered
"As our fathers ate in speed,
Ate the Pascal lamb 'ere midnight,
And from slavery were freed"
"So we follow their example,
And 'ere midnight must complete,
All the Seder, and we should not
After twelve remain to eat."
Then did sneer the son so wicked,
"What does all this mean to you?"
And the father's voice was bitter
As his grief and anger grew.
"If yourself you don't consider,
As a son of Israel
Then for you this has no meaning,
You could be a slave as well!"
Then the simple son said softly,
"What is this?" and quietly
The good father told his offspring
"We were freed from slavery."
But the youngest son was silent,
For he could not speak at all,
His bright eyes were bright with wonder
As his father told him all.
Now, dear people, heed the lesson
And remember evermore,
What the father told his children
Told his sons who numbered four!
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