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On homophonic sacred music in Poland from 10th century onwards
quoted after Geschichte der Musik by Karl H. Woerner, English translation: Monika Fahrnberger

   The occurrence of Gregorian chant in Poland is strongly connected to the generation of the first centers of Latin liturgy, above all the bishopry of Poznań (968) and (around 1000) further bishopries and monasteries (Gniezno, Wrocław, Cracow, Trzemeszno, Kruszwica etc.). Christianization is mainly brought through foreign clergy, this being the reason for the development of Gregorian chant in early medieval Poland under the influence of the liturgy of Cologne and Salzburg. The earliest historical documents reporting on liturgical music date back to 1003 and 1008. (In 1003 two boys sang psalms in the closet of Międzyrzecz on occasion of a mass of St. Martin's feast; in 1008 the brothers held a procession through the very same church). Important monuments and sources that are still in existance date back as far as ca. 1060 (Sacramentarium of Tyniec, amongst others), one of the oldest monuments of diocesal chant is e. g. the Antiphonarium of Kielce (1372).

   After a short reversion to heathendom Cracow becomes the main cultural center of study of Gregorian chant; bishop Aaron from Brunvilare (+1059), a Benedictine monk, works there. The influence of Cracow reaches the diocese Wrocław as well. The archbishopry of Gniezno would experience its revival only at the end of the 11th century, though. The first Polish composition of chant, possibly written on occasion of the re-erected cathedral, is the antiphon to St. Adalbert Magna vox laude sonora (i. e. 'With strong voice and deep praise...'), dating back to either 1090 or 1097 or, at the latest around 1127, its composer probably being the archbishop Jakub from Żnin.

   Around 1080 the first cathedral schools in which the youth get to know chant come into being. In this way the presuppositions of a Polonization of the clergy were brought about. In the beginning of the 13th century several new monasteries were set up of which some were entirely Polish (Dominicans, Franciscans). Most likely they are also the places where compositions in connection with local or self-chosen patron saints originate: Adalbert, Jadwiga, Jacek, Kinga, Wacław and Florian. These compositions are rhymed stories (Officia), Hymns and Sequences. Some of these works are contrafactures of chants of a secular origin, but there are many original compositions as well. Around that time of history more than 60 hymns and over 200 sequences were created in Poland.

   In the beginning of the 13th century, most likely in the cathedral of Poznań, the practice of dramatizing the processions of Palm Sunday as well as Resurrection arises. The dialogues are in Latin language, with the first examples of Polish Easter songs being created only about 150 years later. The Latin liturgical chanting only seized the educated layers of society, mainly the clergy. Responsorials remained almost unknown in Poland, them being mentioned only once in 1249. A reaction of the clergy (set up to result in a higher level of activation of the population) to the wave of Germanization (caused by German colonial settlers) threatening the communities in the beginning of the 13th century was the introduction of Polish language into the liturgical services in the middle of the 13th century. At its beginning there is the Polish recitation of the Credo and the Ten Commandements on very simple psalm tones (brought about by bishop Pełka, synode of Wrocław, 1248; archbishop Jakub ¦winka, synode of Łęczyca, 1285/87).

   The oldest known Polish song, most likely created in the 13th century, is Bogurodzica (Bearer of God), with the oldest documented version dating back to 1407. The beginning and at the same time oldest part of the song dedicated to Mary, is not very closely related to Gregorian chant, but at the same time shows strong connections to the outer-liturgical music, mainly of the knights. The incipit of the song is the same as in the work of Jehan de Braine (+ 1240) Par dessor l'ombre d'un bois. The historician of the Jagiellonic epoche Jan Długosz (+1480) calls 'Bogurodzica' the Carmen patrium (i. e. 'Native Song' or 'Song of the Mother-Country' as well). It was the warsong of Polish knights, e. g. sung at the battlefield of Tannenberg in 1410, and it's neither Tropus nor Lais (hence the naming of Długosz).

   The 14th century would introduce a row of Easter Songs, e. g. the Polish version of the Victimae paschali, the Easter Sequence still in use in the Roman Catholic church of today. The first Polish Christmas Songs date back to the 15th century, as do about 15 Marian Songs (e.g. 'Żale Marii', i.e., 'Mary's Sufferings', from approx. 1470). Apart from those we find five eucharistic songs, three songs of Pentecost, one mourning song and several songs to Saints. In total there are about 60 songs with Polish texts from the 14th and 15th century that are either translations or paraphrases of Latin Sequences or Hymns, partly translations from Bohemian, and in addition to that original works of which some, e. g. 'Pie¶ń o bożym umęczeniu', 'Song on the Passion of God' (composed by Władysław of Gielniowo, +1505), show a strong relation to Polish folk music.

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