This song, like “Green Sleeves and Pudding Pies,” “Maggy Lauder” and some others, were invectives against the Catholic clergy about the time of the Reformation. The first verse refers to their luxurious habits:
John Anderson, my Jo, aim in as ze gae bye, And ze sall get a sheip's heid weel baken in a pye; Weel baken in a pye, and the haggis in a pat. John Anderson, my Jo, cum in, and ze's get that.
Another verse refers to the seven sacraments or “Seven bairns of Mother Church.”