"I worked on 'Old Polish Music' for orchestra Op. 24 in August 1967 and then again in April and May 1969. Two specimens of ancient Polish music had inspired me to write this music (and to give it its title): organum 'Benedicamus Domino', recorded in the Antiphonary of the Order of St Clare in Stary Sącz (ca. 1300), and cantus firmus from the song 'Już się zmierzka' / 'Dusk is already falling' by Wacław of Szamotuły (ca. 1556). And so the parts of brass winds are permeated by a harmonious-melodic mood of the organum 'Benedicamus Domino', while the cantus firmus of the Wacław of Szamotuły song runs through the parts of the string instruments."
It might be worthwhile to note that the medieval organum Benedicamus Domino which Górecki has used in his composition is one of the oldest polyphonic works surviving in Poland. It originates from the circle of the Parisian Notre-Dame School, an extremely 'avant-garde' music centre of the 12th and 13th centuries, and was discovered with other equally valuable music in the monastery of the Order of St Clare in Stary Sącz. It is a testimony to high, European standards of music culture in Poland at the time. Wacław of Szamotuły is, in turn, the most prominent representative of Renaissance in Polish music, and his choral songs Już się zmierzka and Modlitwa, gdy dziatki spać idą / Prayer Upon Children Going To Bed belong among the best-known old Polish works of music.
Prepared by the Polish Music Information Center, Polish Composers' Union, June 2002.