|Born||April 25, 505|
Axum, Tigray Ethiopia
|Died||May 20, 571(aged 66)|
|Venerated in||Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church|
Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church
Ethiopian Catholic Church
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Saint Yared (Ge'ez: ቅዱስ ያሬድ; April 25, 505 – May 20, 571) was a legendary Ethiopian musician credited with inventing the sacred music tradition of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Ethiopia's system of musical notation. He is responsible for creating the Zema or the chant tradition of Ethiopia, particularly the chants of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which are still performed today. He is regarded as a saint of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church with a feast day of 11 Genbot (May 19). His name is from the Biblical person known in English as "Jared" (Gen. 5:15).
Yared was born in the city of Aksum to Abyud (Isaac) and Christina (Tawklia). His parents were born and raised in Aksum. His father died when he was seven, and his mother sent him to be raised by his uncle Gidewon, a priest who taught religious studies. 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, Izil, and Ararary.
Yared arranged and composed hymns connected to religious celebrations and holidays, introducing the concept of sacred music to Ethiopian Orthodox services. This music, claim Debtera, is the basis of their performances.
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 (chants for the dead).
Tradition states that Yared was a favorite of the Emperor Gabra Masqal. According to legend, the emperor once became so enchanted with Yared's singing that he accidentally dropped his spear on Yared's foot during a performance. As an apology, the emperor offered to grant Yared a request. Yared requested to live the remainder of his life in solitude, where he could focus on prayer, meditation, and music composition. He spent his final years as a recluse in the Semien Mountains.