Saint Yared: The Muscian

Saint Yared: The Muscian
It was also in the 6th century that Saint Yared (not one of the Nine Saints, though) of Aksum developed for the church an indigenous musical system not replicated in any part of the world. Yared’s hymns were so moving that even “… the King and the Queen and the bishops and priests and the king’s nobles ran to the church and they spent the day in listening to him.” Yared’s approach to and influence on Ethiopia’s church music was eclectic. Philosophically, music for Yared was “of a divine, not human origin.” He also combined spiritual singing with dancing or shibsheba. No other church in the world combines dancing with chanting. Typically, Ethiopian Orthodox priests sing and dance using instruments such as drum and sistra, wearing their snow-white ceremonial dresses embroidered with the national tri-color. The sights and sounds of the shibsheba is truly soulful. The discovery of the spiritual melodies of the church is believed to be the greatest accomplishment of the 6th century in Ethiopia. Not only was Yared an iconic figure of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church’s hymnary, but also became Emperor Gebre Meskal’s distinguished cultural advisor.
He was also a symbol of academic persistence. Apparently, Yared was not that strong academically. He made several unsuccessful attempts before he excelled in school. He was later inspired by the now proverbial insect that dropped down seven times before it successfully climbed up the tree under whose shade Yared was sitting, observing and reminiscing.

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