"He's gone, I am now sad and lonely, He has left me to cross the salt sea, And I know that he thinks of me only, And will soon be returning to me." The singer misses (Johnny), and asks, "Blow gently, sweet winds of the ocean, And bring my Johnny to me."
A. L. Lloyd, in his liner notes to the Watersons' "For Pence and Spicy Ale", says [this] was "A stage song favoured by Irish comedians from the 1860s on. During the 1880s, apparently on American university campuses, close-harmony groups remade it into the better-known -- and even more preposterous -- "My Bonny Lies Over the Ocean...." - PJS
Steve Roud notes British songster versions starting from 1872 and possibly earlier. - (RBW)