This simple French nursery rhyme is quite well known in English, and is often taught in elementary French, and in music lessons as a recorder tune. Literally "Brother John," it is usually sung in French, and sounds better that way. As with most traditional verse, its origin is uncertain; it seems likely that it was not set to music in the first instance. There are numerous variations on the lyrics, and countless translations. The earliest printed version of the melody dates from around 1780, as "Frère Blaise." Unsurprisingly, "Frère Jacques" has been translated into many languages, from Afrikaans to Xhosa through Japanese.
Obviously this has never been a chart song, although it has been recorded by no less a group than The Beatles.
Suggestion credit: Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
Why Should I Say from What Does It MatterI did not know it was recorded by the beatles
Mjn Seifer from Not Listed For Personal Reason, EnglandI can remember someone in a TV show trying to sing this, but they didn't know it was French, so they sung it as £ "Fairy Jacket" or something. It was silly.
Zabadak from London, EnglandThis song makes heavy use of the French tactic of pronouncing syllables in song which are not pronounced in speech: "Frere Jacques" becomes "Frere-uh Jacques-uh".