The Holy Boy
was one of Ireland’s most popular works and caught the imagination of a wide public. Originally written for piano on Christmas Day 1913 and later prefaced by the description ‘Carol’, it was grouped together as the third of Four Preludes. Although the apparent subject is the birth of Christ, the title has a double meaning since its true inspiration was Bobby Glasby, one of Ireland’s choristers at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, where he was organist from 1904 to 1926. Such was the piece’s success that several arrangements were made, by Ireland and others. Strangely though, this version for violin and piano that Ireland made in 1919 was never published.
from notes by Andrew Burn © 1996