Frère Jacques

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For the Eurovision Song Contest song, see Frère Jacques (Anne-Marie Besse song).
"Frère Jacques"
Frère Jacques.svg
Written France
Language French
Form Nursery rhyme

"Frère Jacques" (/ˌfrɛrə ˈʒɑːkə/, French pronunciation: ​[fʁɛʁ ʒɑk]) in English sometimes called "Are You Sleeping?", "Brother John", "I Hear Thunder" or "Brother Peter", is a French nursery melody. The song is traditionally sung in a round.

The song is about a monk, brother Jacob, who has overslept and is urged to wake up and sound the bells for the matins, the midnight or very early morning prayers for which a monk would be expected to wake.


Tune for Frère Jacques

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Sheet music version

The original French version of the song is as follows:

Frère Jacques, frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous ? Dormez-vous ?
Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

The song is traditionally translated into English as:

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,
Brother John? Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing! Morning bells are ringing!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

A more literal translation of the French lyrics would be:

Brother Jacob, brother Jacob
Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
Ring the morning bells! Ring the morning bells!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

The translation of "Frère" would be "Friar" in this case, because this song is about Jacques, a religious monk. In English the word Friar is probably derived from the French word frère ("brother" in English), as French was still widely used in official circles in England during the 13th century when the four great orders of Friars started. The French word frère in turn comes from the Latin word frater (which also means "brother").

Theories of origin[edit]

A possible connection between Frère Jacques and the 17th century lithotomist Frère Jacques Beaulieu (also known as Frère Jacques Baulot[1][2]), as claimed by Irvine Loudon[3] and many others, was explored by J. P. Ganem and C. C. Carson[4] without finding any evidence for a connection.

Francesca Draughon and Raymond Knapp argue that Frère Jacques originally was a song to taunt Jews or Protestants or Martin Luther (see Frère Jacques in popular culture).[5]

Martine David and A. Marie Delrieu suggest that Frère Jacques might have been created to mock the Dominican monks, known in France as the Jacobin order, for their sloth and comfortable lifestyles.[6]

In a review of a book about Kozma Prutkov, Richard Gregg notes it has been claimed that Frère Jacques Frère Jacques was derived from a Russian seminary song about a "Father Theofil".[7]

Published record[edit]

First publication[edit]

James Fuld (1995) states that the tune was first published in 1811,[8] and that the words and music were published together in Paris in 1869.[9] However, the words and music appear together in Recreations de l'enfance: Recueil de Rondes avec Jeux et de Petites Chansons pour Faire Jouer, Danser et Chanter les Enfants avec un Accompagnement de Piano Très-Facile by Charles Lebouc, which was first published in 1860 by Rouart, Lerolle & C. in Paris.[10] This book was very popular and it was republished several times, so many editions exist.

Allmusic states that the earliest printed version of the melody is on a French manuscript circa 1780 (manuscript 300 in the manuscript collection of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris). The manuscript is titled "Recueil de Timbres de Vaudevilles", and the Bibliothèque Nationale estimates that it was printed between 1775 and 1785. The Frère Jacques melody is labelled "Frère Blaise" in this manuscript.

French musicologist Sylvie Bouissou has found some evidence that composer Jean-Philippe Rameau had written the music. A manuscript at the French National Library contains Frère Jacques among 86 canons, with Rameau listed as author.[11]

Comparison with Fra Jacopino[edit]

Frère Jacques bears resemblance to the piece Toccate d'intavolatura, No.14, Capriccio Fra Jacopino sopra L'Aria Di Ruggiero composed by Girolamo Frescobaldi,[12] which was first published around 1615[13] - "Fra Jacopino" is one potential Italian translation for "Frère Jacques".[14] Edward Kilenyi pointed out that Fra Jacopino shares the same Frère Jacques-like melody as Chanson de Lambert, a French song dating from 1650, and a Hungarian folk tune.[15]

The Frère Jacques tune is one of the most basic repeating canons along with the melody of Three Blind Mice. It is also simple enough to have spread easily from place to place. For example, Barbara Mittler in a conference abstract points out that the melody of Frère Jacques is so thoroughly assimilated into Chinese culture that it might be widely regarded as a Chinese folksong in China.[16]

Cultural references[edit]

The song Frère Jacques often appears in popular culture. Frère Jacques is one of the most widely known songs in the world, and it can be found in many places.

Lyrics in other languages[edit]

Vader Jakob, Vader Jakob
Slaap jy nog? Slaap jy nog?
Hoor hoe lui die kerkklok, hoor hoe lui die kerkklok
Ding dong del, ding dong del.

Arbër vlla, Arbër vlla
A po flen, a po flen?
Kumbona ka ra, Kumbona ka ra
Ding dang dong, Ding dang dong.

Brueder Jakob, Brueder Jakob
Schlofsch du noch? Schlofsch du noch?
||: Hersch du nit die glocke? :||
Kling klang klong, kling klang klong.

اخونا يعقوب اخونا يعقوب
قُم بكير قُم بكير
دُق جرس المدرسة دُق جرس المدرسة
دينج دانج دونج

Յակոբ եղբայր, Յակոբ եղբայր
Արթնցիր, արթնցիր
Ելիր զանգակը զարկ, ելիր զանգակը զարկ
Տին տան տօն, տին տան տօն:

Anai Xanti, Anai Xanti
lotan zu, lotan zu ?
Kanpaia jotzen du
Kanpaia jotzen du
Din dan don, Din dan don.

Годзе спаць ўжо, брат Якубе,
Чуеш звон, чуеш звон?
Трэба паднімацца
І ў царкву зьбірацца
Дзінь, дзінь, дон, Дзінь, дзінь, дон.

Breurig Jakez, breurig Jakez
Kousket out, kousket out ?
Deus da zebriñ krampouz
Deus da zebriñ krampouz
Gant laezh dous, gant laezh dous.

Сутрин рано, сутрин рано
в неделя, в неделя
камбаните бият, камбаните бият
бим бам бум, бим бам бум.

Sutrin rano, sutrin rano
v nedelja, v nedelja
kambanite bijat, kambanite bijat
bim bam bum, bim bam bum!

Nna ayem yam pkem, nna ayem yam pkem
Pkem yé issouk, pkem yé issouk
Nbong wa yak making yana, nbong wa yak making yana
Vama medjime, vama medjime.

Germà Jaume, germà Jaume
Desperteu!, desperteu! (Que dormiu! Que dormiu!)
Sonen les campanes, sonen les campanes
Ding dang dong, ding dang dong.

兩隻老虎 兩隻老虎
跑得快 跑得快
真奇怪 真奇怪

Bratec Martin, Bratec Martin

Kaj još spiš, kaj još spiš

Već ti vura tuče, već ti vura tuče

Ding dang dong, ding dang dong.

Bratře Kubo, Bratře Kubo,
Ještě spíš, ještě spíš?
Venku slunce září, ty jsi na polštáři,
vstávej již, vstávej již.

Mester Jakob, Mester Jakob
sover du, sover du?
||: Hører du ej klokken: :||
Ringe tolv, Ringe tolv.

Vader Jakob, vader Jakob,
Slaapt gij nog, slaapt gij nog?
||: Hoor de klokken luiden, :||
Bim bam bom, bim bam bom.

Frat’ Jakobo, Frat’ Jakobo,
Ĉu en dorm’? Ĉu en dorm’?
||: Iru sonorigu, Iru sonorigu,:||
Tin, tin, tin. Tin, tin, tin.

Sepapoisid, sepapoisid
teevad tööd, teevad tööd
||: taovad tulist rauda :||
Päeval ööl, päeval ööl.

Jaakko kulta, Jaakko kulta!
Herää jo, herää jo!
||: Kellojasi soita! :||
Pium, paum, poum! Pium, paum, poum!

Irmaj Jorge, irmaj Jorge,
dorme tu, dorme tu?
||: Ja' soam ossinos,  :||
Ding dang dong, ding dang dong.

Bruder Jakob, Bruder Jakob,
Schläfst du noch? Schläfst du noch?
||: Hörst du nicht die Glocken? :||
Ding dang dong, ding dang dong.

János bácsi, János bácsi,
Keljen fel, keljen fel!
||: Húzza a harangot! :||
Ding deng dong, ding deng dong.

Meistari Jakob, meistari Jakob!
Sefur þú, sefur þú?
Hvað slær klukkan, hvað slær klukkan?
Hún slær þrjú, hún slær þrjú.

Fra Martino, campanaro,
Dormi tu? Dormi tu?
Suona le campane! Suona le campane!
Din don dan, din don dan.

A gma Aqbayli, a gma Aqbayli
Σni teṭṭseḍ? Σni teṭṭseḍ
La k-teddnen iyuzaḍ. La k-teddnen iyuzaḍ
Qiqiεu, qiqiεu.

우리 서로 학교 길에
만나면 만나면
웃는 얼굴하고
인사 나눕시다
얘들아 안-녕

  • Kosovo

Vlla i dashur, vlla i dashur,
A po flen? A po flen?
Ora po bie, ora po bie,
Ding dang dong, Ding dang dong.

BIra meyvan, BIra meyvan
de hin rokati, de hin rokati
cImo dey noki, cImo dey noki
dara bon dIkIM, dara bon dIKIM

Quare dormis, o Iacobe,
Etiam nunc, etiam nunc?
||: Resona campanae, :||
Din din dan, din din dan.

Brāli Jēkab, brāli Jēkab,
Celties laiks. Celties laiks.
||: Pulkstenis jau zvana, pulkstenis jau zvana. :||
Bing bong bing, bing bong bing!

Broli Žakai, broli Žakai,
Dar miegi, dar miegi?
Skamba varpeliukai, skamba vareliukai:
Din dan don, din dan don!

Ingahy Razaka, Ingahy Razaka,
Matory va ianao, matory va ianao?
Maneno ny lakilosy, maneno ny lakilosy:
Din dain dôn, din dain dôn!

Fader Jakob, Fader Jakob
Sover du? Sover du?
||: Hører du ej klokka? :||
Bing, bing, bang. Bing, bing, bang.

برادر امیر، برادر امیر
می خابی؟ می خابی؟
زنگ را نمیشنوی؟ زنگ را نمیشنوی؟
دنگ دنگ دنگ دنگ دنگ دنگ

Panie Janie! Panie Janie!
Rano wstań! Rano wstań!
||: Wszystkie dzwony biją, :||
Bim, bam, bom, bim, bam, bom.

Irmão Jorge, irmão Jorge,
dormes tu, dormes tu?
||: Já soam os sinos,  :||
Ding dang dong, ding dang dong.

Frate Iacob, Frate Iacob,
Oare dormi, Oare dormi?
||: Suna desteptarea, suna desteptarea  :||
Ding dang dong, ding dang dong.

Брат Иван! Эй! Брат Иван! Эй!
Спишь-ли ты? Спишь-ли ты?
||: Звонят в колокольчик, :||
Динь-динь-динь, динь-динь-динь.

Brat Iwan! Ej! Brat Iwan! Ej!
Spisch-li ty? Spisch-li ty?
||: Swonjat w kolokoltschik, :||
Din-din-din, din-din-din.

Mojster Jaka, mojster Jaka,
al'že spiš, al'že spiš,
al'ne slišiš zvona, al'ne slišiš zvona,
bim bam bom, bim bam bom.

Fray Santiago, Fray Santiago
¿Duerme usted?, ¿duerme usted?
Suenan las campanas, suenan las campanas
Din, don, dan, Din, don, dan.


Martinillo, martinillo
¿Dónde está, dónde está?
||: Toca la campana, :||
Din, don, dan, din, don, dan.


Campanero, campanero
¿Duermes tú?, ¿duermes tú?
Toca las campanas, toca las campanas
Din, don, dan. Din, don, dan


Te has dormido, te has dormido
Hermano Juan, Hermano Juan;
Suenan las campanas! Suenan las campanas!
Din, don, dan; din, don, dan.

Version argentine

Fray Santiago, Fray Santiago,
Duermes ya, duermes ya?
Suenan las campanas, Suenan las campanas
Din, don, dan; din, don, dan.

Broder Jakob, Broder Jakob
sover du, sover du?
||: Hör du inte klockan, :||
ding ding dong, ding ding dong.

Chinna Thambi, Chinna Thambi,
Nithiraiyo? Nithiraiyo?
||: Mani adikithu! :||
Ding ding dong, ding ding dong.

Tembel çocuk, tembel çocuk,
Kalksana, kalksana!
Yine sabah oldu, yine sabah oldu.
baksana, baksana

Kìa con bướm vàng, kìa con bướm vàng.
Xòe đôi cánh, xòe đôi cánh.
Bướm bướm bay lên ba vòng,
bướm bướm bay lên ba vòng.
Em ngồi xem, em ngồi xem.


Trời đã sáng rồi, trời đã sáng rồi
Dậy đi thôi, dậy đi thôi
Chuông đã reo vang lên rồi, chuông đã reo vang lên rồi
Ding dang dong, Ding dang dong


  1. ^ Jacques BAULOT
  2. ^ Un célèbre lithotomiste franc-comtois : Jacques Baulot dit Frère Jacques (1651-1720), E. Bourdin, Besançon, 1917
  3. ^ Western Medicine, Irvine Loudon, Oxford University Press, Dec 1, 2001, ISBN 0-19-924813-3
  4. ^ Frère Jacques Beaulieu: from rogue lithotomist to nursery rhyme character, Ganem JP, Carson CC, J Urol. 1999 Apr;161(4):1067-9.
  5. ^ Mahler and the Crisis of Jewish Identity by Francesca Draughon and Raymond Knapp, ECHO volume III, issue 2 (Fall 2001)
  6. ^ Refrains d'enfants, histoire de 60 chansons populaires, Martine David, A. Marie Delrieu, Herscher, 1988.
  7. ^ Review of Koz'ma Prutkov: The Art of Parody by Barbara Heldt Monter, reviewed by Richard Gregg, Slavic Review, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Jun., 1974), pp. 401-402.
  8. ^ La Cle du Caveau a l'usage de tous les Chansonniers francais, Paris, 1811
  9. ^ The Book of World Famous Music Classical, Popular, and Folk', James J. Fuld, 1995, Dover Publications, Inc., ISBN 0-486-28445-X
  10. ^ the C. stands for Cie., which in English would be Co. or Company
  11. ^ "Frère Jacques" a été composé par Jean Philippe Rameau
  12. ^ Frescobaldi: Harpsichord Works, composer: Jacques Arcadelt, Girolamo Frescobaldi; Performer: Louis Bagger. Audio CD (August 28, 2001)
  13. ^ Frescobaldi: Toccate & Partite, Libro Primo, Todd M. McComb
  14. ^ Fra Jacopino has additional historical importance. The half note and quarter note are reported to have first appeared in Frescobaldi's publication of Fra Jacopino.
  15. ^ The Theory of Hungarian Music, Edward Kilenyi, Musical Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Jan., 1919), pp. 20-39
  16. ^ From Mozart to Mao to Mozart--Western Music in Modern China, Barbara Mittler, Rethinking cultural revolution culture, Heidelberg, 22-24.2.2001

External links[edit]