One of the most popular French rhymes at the origin, “Brother John” was translated in many languages including English, Dutch, Polish, Hebrew, Finnish, Arabic or Vietnamese.
It was first published in a manuscript under the name “Frère Blaise” in 1780 but its author is unknown despite some theories that the song’s author was French composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.
The English lyrics do not preserve the meaning of the song, as in French the thrid verse “Sonnez les matines! Sonnez les matines!” is imperative and means that Brother John should ring the matins (bells).
“Are you sleeping, brother John?”Lyrics
Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?
Brother John, Brother John,
Morning bells are ringing! Morning bells are ringing!
Ding, dang, dong. Ding, dang, dong.