Feast of Saint Yared

May 18, 2022

The poet and hymn writer who was like the Seraphim Saint Yared, vanished in to the mountain on May 19. This man was a kinsman of Abba Gideon a priest of ‘Aksum, which city held the first church that was built in the country of Ethiopia and in (this church) was first preached the Faith of our Lord Christ. It was consecrated in the name of our Holy Lady, the Virgin Mary.

When this Abba Gideon began to teach the blessed Yared the Psalms of David, he was unable to keep him for many days at a time. Then when he beat him and made him suffer, he fled into the desert. There he took up his abode under a tree.  He saw a worm (caterpillar) which was climbing up the tree. When it had climbed up half way it fell down upon the ground many times because of the difficulty of climbing the tree.  Saint Yared saw the perseverance of the worm and observed his diligence.

Subsequently, he repented and returned to his teacher. He then said to him, “Forgive me, O father, and dispose of me as you wish.”  His teacher, a spiritual man, received him. After this, Saint Yared pleaded God with tears and his thoughts and understanding was opened. He learned the Books of the Old and the New Testaments in one day; then he was ordained deacon.

Now in those days there was no singing of hymns and spiritual songs in a loud voice to well-defined tunes, but men murmured them in a low voice.  God, wishing to raise up to a memorial for Saint Yared, sent to him three birds from the Garden of ‘Edom, and they held converse with him in the speech of man. They caught him up, and took him to the heavenly Jerusalem. There he learned the songs of the four and Twenty Priests of heaven.

When he returned, he went into the First Church in ‘Aksum, at the third hour of the day, and he cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Hallelujah to the Father, Hallelujah to the Son, Hallelujah to the Holy Spirit.”  The first Hallelujah he made the foundation, and called it “Areyam (Heavens)”  In the second Hallelujah he showed forth how Moses carried out the work of the Tabernacle, and this he called a “Song of the heights.”  When they heard the sound of his voice, the king, the queen, the bishop, the priests and the king’s nobles ran to the church, where they spent the day listening to him. He arranged hymns for each season of the year, for summer, winter, spring and autumn, for festivals and Sabbaths, and for the days of the Angels, the Prophets, the Martyrs and the Righteous, in three modes. That is to say, the first mode to be used on ordinary days, the second mode to be used on fast days and days of mourning, and the third mode to be used on the great festivals.  There were not lacking in these three modes any of the sounds that are made by men, birds and beasts.

One day whilst Saint Yared was singing by the footstool of King Gebre Meskel, the king (died A.D. 1344) was so deeply fascinated (in listening to) his voice, that he drove his spear into the flat part of Yared’s foot with such force that much blood spurted out. But Saint Yared did not know until he had finished his song. When the king saw this he was dismayed and drew his spear out of his foot. He then said to him, “Ask me what ever reward you wish for in return for this your blood which has been shed”. Saint Yared replied saying, “Swear to me that you will not refuse me.”  The king had sworn Saint Yared said to him, “Send me away that I may become a monk.”  When the king heard this he was exceedingly sad, and his nobles as well. But he was afraid to prevent him because of his oath.

Later Saint Yared went into church and stood before the Tabernacle of Zion, where he said the prayer from the beginning, “Holy, honorable, glorious, blessed, praised and exalted” Miraculously, he was raised above the ground the space of a cubit.  Then he departed to the desert of the south and lived there in prayer and fasting. He mortified his flesh exceedingly, and finished his strife there. God gave him vow concerning any who should appeal his name or celebrate his commemoration. He vanished in the south which is not known till this day.

May God’s blessing be upon us on Saint Jared’s Feast, Amen!

Source: The Ethiopian Synaxarium page 503-504