The tune was probably first published in William Thompson's Orpheus Caledonius (2nd edition 1733), where it appeared as "Jenny Beguil'd The Webster" and is believed to have been composed by Reverand Alexander Garden (1688-1778), a minister of Birse, Aberdeenshire, Scotland.
Many explanations exist regarding the meaning behind the lyrics.
Hunter (1988) relates that around 1746 "the minister's 'handy-man,' and ex-weaver from Mary well called Jock, hotly refused to clean the parson's boots when requested to do so by Mrs. Garden. The enraged minister's wife gave him such a beating with her 'tattie-beetle' that he soon performed the task." They may be about a Spinning Jenny, a powered machine (invented in 1764) that replaced a weaver to produce cloth that could be said to 'dang' or 'beat' him, or it may simply be a song about a weaver who makes unwanted advances toward a lady called Jenny, who turns him down flatly, or 'dangs' him.
Jenny dang, Jenny dang
Jenny dang the weaver
But soon the fool his folly kent
For Jenny dang the weaver
At ilka country dance or reel
Wi' her he would be bobbin'
When she sat doon, he sat doon
And tae her would be gabbin'
Where'er she gaed, baith but 'n' ben
The coof would ne'er leave her
Aye kecklin' like a clockin' hen
But Jenny dang the weaver
Quo' he my lass, tae change my mind
In troth I needna swither
You've bonnie een and if you're kind
I'll never seek anither
He humm'd and haw'd, the lass cried Peugh!
And bade the coof no deave her
Syne snapped her fingers lap and leugh
And dang the silly weaver