RELIGION: Retired solicitor completes 17-year translation of the Bible into Doric

By Jane Bristow

A retired solicitor says he is “elated” after finishing an epic 17-year project to translate the full Bible into Doric, which is the first time the entire text has ever been published in Scots or any of its dialects.

Gordon M Hay finished the New Testament in 2012 “when I had a moment spare” in between working, but the Old Testament, which he has just completed, is approximately three times the length.

However once he retired, Mr Hay was able to dedicate more time to completing the vast undertaking.

The final Old Testament translation is 758 pages long and has over 570,000 words, representing an impressive piece of scholarship.

Over the years the church elder and organist has also been commissioned by Aberdeen University to put some of Handel’s Messiah into Doric.

Born into a Doric speaking farming family in Inverkeithny, Banffshire, Mr Hay explained that his marathon scheme began in 2006.

“There used to be a biannual service taken in Doric in Buchan, but, Rev Charles Birnie, the minister who used to translate it sadly died,” he said.

Mr Hay was then approached to help and the project went from there.

A church member since childhood, Mr Hay grew up worshiping at Inverkeithny Parish Church and has recently been awarded a long service award marking 30 years as an elder.

Speaking about why Doric sounds so distinctive, he explained that it has elements from other European languages including French, and German from the links in the North East to trade with the Hanseatic League.

“To some extent it’s Anglo-Saxon still in use in the North East. Until about 150 years ago when proper roads were built the North East was very cut off from the rest of the country,” he added.

Since 2010 Mr Hay has had his text revised by the Rev Melvyn Wood, a Church of Scotland minister based in Glasgow.

The launch party on Friday 30 June is free to attend and will take place at Longside Parish Church in Aberdeenshire at 7.30pm featuring a fiddle player performing a tune written to honour the Rev Charles Birnie, a soprano performing some of Mr Hay’s translation of Handel’s Messiah into Doric and an introduction from the Rev Melvyn Wood.

To purchase a copy, please email Gordon Hay directly at


Aathin his it’s sizzon, an for ilka thing ye dee aneth e hivvens there’s a time:

2A time tae be born, an a time tae dee; a time tae shaav, an a time tae hairst; 3a time tae dee awa wi, an a time tae mak aa better; a time tae pu doon, an a time tae bigg up; 4a time tae greet, an a time tae lauch; a time tae moorn an a time tae dance; 5a time tae scatter steens, an a time tae gaither them up; a time tae gie a bosie, an a time tae haud back fae gien a bosie; 6a time tae sikk, an a time tae tine; a time tae haud on tae things, an a time tae fling awa; 7a time tae rive, an a time tae sort; a time tae be quait, an a time tae spik oot; 8a time tae loo, an a time tae hate; a time for waar, an a time for peace. 9Fit gweed dis e warker get fae aa his trachles? 10A’ve seen e birn att God his gien fowk tae keep them thrang. 11He’s made aathin bonnie in it’s time. He’s gien fowk e sense o fit’s gaen afore an fit’s tae come, bit naebody can unnerstan God’s wark fae e yokin till e hinnerein.

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