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"Frère Jacques" Lyrics and Translations

"Frere Jacques" lyrics and translations from the original French into English, German, and more!

Lyrics for the classic French lullaby about an oversleeping monk. Commonly used to teach melody and how to sing a round, this popular nursery rhyme has been translated into numerous languages over the centuries. Included here are the original French lyrics for "Frère Jacques," traditional and literal translations for English and other languages, and a brief history of the lullaby's (comical) meaning and origin.
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"Frère Jacques" Translations

French (Original)

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnes les matines! Sonnez les matines!
Ding, ding, dong. Ding, ding, dong.

Traditional English Lyrics

Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
Brother John, Brother John?
Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing
Ding, dong, ding. Ding, dong, ding.

German

Bruder Jakob, Bruder Jakob,
Schlafst du noch? Schlafst du noch?
Horst du nicht die Glocken, horst du nicht die Glocken?
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.

Italian

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

Spanish

Martinillo, Martinillo,
¿Donde estas? ¿Donde estas?
Suenan las campanas! Suenan las campanas!
Ding, dang, dong.  Ding, dang, dong.

Dutch

Vader Jacob, Vader Jacob,
Slaapt gij nog, slaapt gij nog, (or "slaap jij nog, slaap jij nog")
Alle klokken luiden, Alle klokken luiden,
Bim, bam, bom.  Bim, bam, bom.

Thought to be written long before it was first published in 1780, the nursery rhyme concerns (and pokes a little fun at) a monk who has overslept and is thus late for his duty to ring the monastery bells that wake the other monks for morning prayers. Curiously, the English translation has been adapted over the years to distort the meaning of the original French version. In the French version, morning bells are NOT ringing, which is why "Brother John" is being implored to rise from sleep to do his job. The English version, alone among all other translations, changes the meaning to indicate that the bells ARE ringing and that Brother John has merely overslept for prayer service.

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