Efrem Soryawi

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Life and Ministry

aka Ephrem the Syrian (306-373).

According to some traditions, Efrem’s writings were introduced to the Ethiopian Church by the “Nine Saints”. They arrived in Axum around AD 480 and established Ge’ez as the language of worship.

The popular Weddase Maryam has been attributed to Efrem by some scholars. Other experts, however, argue that the transmission process was indirect, as the Weddase Maryam is very similar to the Coptic Theotokion (which in turn was influenced by Efrem’s hymns and Byzantine texts).



playlist (2019ff):


Lenten hymn (publ. in 2023):

as sung in the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch (publ. in 2021):



Ge’ez prayer: Monday Wudase Maryam (playlist; 2021):


publ. in 2015:

published in 2015:


» Watch 2022 lecture “The Harp of the Spirit: Saint Ephrem the Syrian and the Syriac Christian World” (Saint Photios Orthodox Theological Seminary [USA])

Recorded in 2005:

Further reading

Ephraim Isaac. “Efrem Soreyawi”, in The Dictionary of Ethiopian Biography, vol. 1, ed. Belaynesh Michael, S. Chojnacki and R. Pankhurst. Addis Ababa: Institute of Ethiopian Studies, 1975. [Online version, Dictionary of African Christian Biography)´]

Grohmann, Adolf. Aethiopische Marienhymnen (Abhandlungen der philologisch-historischen Klasse der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 33, 4). Leipzig 1919.

Lee, Ralph. “Symbolic Interpretations in Ethiopic and Ephremic Literature”. PhD dissertation. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 2011. [Online version; published by Peeters in Leuven in 2017]

Murray, Robert. “Ephrem Syrus”, in Theologische Realenzyklopädie, vol. 9, ed. G. Krause et al., 755-62. Berlin / New York: Walter de Gruyter, 1982.

Weninger, Stefan. “Ephrem”, in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, vol. 2, ed. S. Uhlig, 331-32. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005.

—. “Wəddase Maryam”, in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, ed. S. Uhlig in cooperation with A. Bausi, vol. 4, 1173-74. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2010.

Witakowski, Witold. “Syrian influences in Ethiopia”, in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, vol. 4, ed. S. Uhlig in cooperation with A. Bausi, 782-84. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010.