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Saint Yared
Saint Yared iconographic symbolism, with three major chants, Ge'ez, Ezel and Araray
BornApril 25, 505
Axum, Ethiopia
DiedMay 20, 571(571-05-20) (aged 66)
Venerated inEthiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Ethiopian Catholic Church
Eritrean Catholic Church[1]
FeastMay 19

Saint Yared (Ge'ez: ቅዱስ ያሬድ; April 25, 505 – May 20, 571 AD)[2][3] was an Ethiopian legendary musician from Axum, Ethiopia credited with inventing the sacred music tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Eritrean Orthodox Church, Ethiopian Catholic Church, Eritrean Catholic Church, and Ethiopian system of musical notation. He is responsible for creating the Zema or the chant tradition of Ethiopia, particularly the chants of the Ethiopian-Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches, which are still performed today. He is regarded as a saint of the Ethiopian-Eritrean Orthodox Church with a feast day of May 19. His name is from the Biblical person known in English as "Jared" (Book of Genesis 5:15).


Yared was born on April 25, 505 AD in the village of Axum, Tigray, Ethiopia.

School was hard for young Yared. He never understood the Psalms of David. Because of his terrible weakness in school, he was confronted with his angry uncle at home and occasional physical punishment. Young Yared tried to learn and understand the teachings of the church for over seven years, but he always failed. He was tired of the anger and punishment and life was becoming difficult for him.

He once traveled for an entire day and came to rest under a tree in Murade Qal in Bet Giorgis on the outskirts of Axum. In the middle of his anger and frustration, young Yared noticed a small insect trying to climb the tree. The insect tried once, it failed. Tried the second time, it failed again. The insect tried to climb the tree six times and it failed. On the seventh attempt it succeeded to climb the tree and ate the fruits. Young Yared learnt a great wisdom of God through the little insect. He started school the next day. He finished 150 Psalms of David, the books of Prophets, and King Solomon including the translations and the laws of the church.

A legend describes Yared gaining musical insight and talent through interaction with three birds, which inspired him to link the spiritual with the musical through the blending of musical characteristics to which he attached the Ethiopian words "Ge’ez", "Ezel", and "Araray".

Yared arranged and composed hymns connected to religious celebrations and holidays, introducing the concept of sacred music to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Yared wrote five volumes of "Zema" chants for church services and celebrations. These volumes include The Book of Digua and Tsome Digua (chants for church holidays and Sundays services), The Book of Meraf (chants for major holidays, daily prayers and the month of fasting), The Book of Zimare (chants to be performed after Mass), The Book of Mewasit.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kidane Mehret Ge'ez Rite Catholic Parish The Ge'ez Rite". Kidane-mehret.org.
  2. ^ Chavis, Charles L. (2011-04-05). "Yared (Saint), 505-571 AD". Retrieved 2020-05-03.
  3. ^ Giday, Belai (1991). Ethiopian Civilization. B. Giday.

External links[edit]