"Frère Jacques" in English 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 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
The Matins mentioned in the literal translation refers
to the midnight or very early morning prayers for which
a monk would be expected to wake.
A possible connection between Frère Jacques and the
17th century lithotomist Frère Jacques Beaulieu (also
known as Frère Jacques Baulot), as claimed by Irvine
Loudon and many others, was explored by J. P. Ganem and
C. C. Carson without finding any evidence for a
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
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.
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".
I created this arrangement for my friend and Pastor
Julian J. Champion of the West Point School of Music
located in Chicago IL. It has a single purpose for
making music accessible to inner-city and disadvantaged
youth. They are a struggling organization with a
wonderful purpose. This arrangement is created for
Steel Orchestra (Lead Pan, Double Lead (2), Alto Pan,
Cello Pan & Bass Pan) Steel Drums.