Archive: 02/07/2012

‘Three-score Years and Ten’

A few weeks ago my eye fell on a fascinating headline in the literary magazine, ‘Northwords Now’. ‘Aonghas Dubh aig aois a gheallaidh,’ it said. I hadn’t heard the phrase for a long time, but it was in common use in the older Gaelic world when life seemed more precarious than it does now; and when, of course, biblical language coloured everyday speech in a way that is rare today. All in all, it was a splendid headline. The phrase goes back to the words of the Psalmist, ‘The days of our years are three-score years and ten,’ and from them came the sentiment, often expressed by septuagenarians, ‘I got the promise.’

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