Saint Yared was an Aksumite composer in the sixth century. He lived from 25 April 505 to 20 May 571. He created the music for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Church, as well as its application in liturgical music and the Ethiopian musical notation system. He is frequently recognized with being the precursor of traditional music of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Additionally, he created the Ethiopian chant tradition known as Zema, which includes the still-performed chants of the Ethiopian-Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches.
Yared was from Axum, and according to popular folklore, following his father’s passing, his mother sent him to the parish priest Abba Gedeon to complete his incomplete education.
Yared felt regret for his educational shortcomings as he set off on his exile to his uncle’s birthplace in Murade Qal after witnessing an illustration of a caterpillar’s struggle to reach a tree’s pinnacle. Yared was inspired by the caterpillar’s accomplishment to believe in his own abilities, which helped him succeed in later life.
He was appointed a priest of the Sion Holy Ark. Yared considerably rose to fame for his musical style and the emperor adored him under the rule of Emperor Gebre Meskel (son of Emperor Kaleb).
Yared worked alongside the Nine Saints expedition from the Byzantine Empire to erect a number of churches near Lake Tana, in Begemder, and in the Tigray Province.
After a difficult trek, a church called Saint Mariam was established in the Zur Amba area.
According to Abune Aragawi’s Gadla Aragawi story, God’s apparition led to the name “Zur Amba,” which was used to direct him to the east side of the city so he could erect a church.
The Ethiopian-Eritrean Orthodox Church considers him to be a saint, and on May 19, they celebrate his feast day. His name is derived from the Biblical character known as “Jared” in English (Book of Genesis 5:15).