Josef Suk played second violin in the Bohemian String Quartet. Since 1914 the ensemble was obliged to perform the Austrian national anthem at the opening of every concert. Suk decided to supplement this obligatory piece with a work inspired by the ancient sacred Bohemian "St. Wenceslas" hymn. The hymn's message – a plea for the well-being of the Czech people, directed at their patron saint – was immediately understood by the audience.
The Bohemian String Quartet performed this single-movement Meditation for the first time on 27 September 1914; the premiere of the version for string orchestra followed on 22 November 1914, played by the Czech Philharmonic. That same year the piece was published by Fr. A. Urbánek together with arrangements for piano and organ.