Bogurodzica (Polish pronunciation: [bur?'dit?sa]; "Mother of God/Theotokos") is the oldest Polish and world's anthem. It was composed somewhere between the 10th and 13th centuries. While the origin of the song is not entirely clear, several scholars agree that Saint Adalbert of Prague is the likely author.
It was recorded in writing at the beginning of the 15th century. Two records preserved till today date back to that time:
Other records date back to the second half of the fifteenth century, the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and to the beginning of the 16th century. In 1509 the song was printed in Kraków in Jan ?aski's Statut.
The origin of the song is not clear, although St Adalbert is a likely author. It used to be related either to Latin liturgy, the tradition of church hymns, Greek or Old Church Slavonic influences, Western or Eastern culture. The two initial stanzas were created first - probably in the middle or at the end of the thirteenth century, or possibly at the very beginning of the fourteenth century.
Bogurodzica is a prayer hymn whose first stanza contains an invocation to Christ through the intercession of Mary. It begins with an apostrophe to her - to the Mother of Christ, the Virgin, praised by God, the chosen one. After the apostrophe, there is an appeal to Mary to win favour for people from her Son.
The second stanza begins with a direct addresses to Christ (called God's Son) - with an invocation to John the Baptist who can support human imploring. The prayer closing this stanza contains a request that Christ give people a blissful stay on earth and, after death, everlasting existence in heaven. The subsequent stanzas develop various motifs: Easter, the Passion, a litany - with invocations to the saints.
Bogurodzica was initially connected with the mass and procession but already in the fifteenth century it became a knight's battle hymn. Thanks to Jan D?ugosz (historian, author of Annales seu Cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae), we know that it was sung at Grunwald in 1410 as well as before other battles in subsequent years. It also accompanied the coronation ceremonies of W?adys?aw III of Poland. That is why D?ugosz called Bogurodzica "carmen patrium" (the hymn of the fatherland). In the next centuries the hymn lost its significance. It regained its position of "carmen patrium" in the nineteenth century and has held it to the present day.