The lines "Bless you, young women" and "O mind what I do say" are sometimes sung in chorus.

Miall, Everyman's Book of Sea Songs, claims this song's origin is unmistakably akin to one in Thomas Heywood's play The Rape of Lucrece, which was playing in London in about 1630:

It was certainly extremely popular at the time and was presumably taken on board by sailors and used as a capstan or heaving shanty. The words have been rewritten several thousand times by those with an eye for sobriety rather than authenticity. But somehow the original intentions of those ancient singers is never quite sublimated.