This song is an old round and first appeared in John Hilton’s Catch That Catch Can: A Choice Collection of Catches, Rounds, and Canons, first published in London in 1652. The name of the song on the contents page is “Come follow, follow me, whether shall I follow” (underline mine). The original words are:
Come follow, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow mee; whither shall I follow, follow, follow, whither shall I follow, follow thee? to the Gallow, gallow, gallow, to the gallow, gallow treee.
Wee have oft been Rogues together, Now we must hang ‘twixt winde and weather: We have oft time nipt a Bung boy Neatly, neatly, in a throng boy, Neatly, neatly, neatly, neatly, neatly, neatly, in a throng boy.
So the song is about a gang of rogues or thieves that one day might get caught and hanged. At some point the words were changed to the more pastoral ‘greenwood’ words.
Notes by Gwilym Davies , with help from Masato Sakurai, posting in the online forum ‘Mudcat’. 20 March 2016