Analysis of the music sung at St Luke’s church, Chelsea, in 1904 – the year when Ireland took over from Everard Hulton (1845–1922) as organist and choirmaster – reveals that the most common services were the following:
- Harwood in A flat
- Martin in C
- Stainer in A and F
- Smart in F
- Stanford in B flat
The example below shows the music for the second half of May in that year:
Few anthems were performed in this year, some notable exceptions being John Goss’s 1869 ‘O, saviour of the world’ and Thomas Attwood’s ‘Come, holy ghost’ (Attwood being Goss’s teacher). In July Ireland was welcomed to St Luke’s, but it was some time before the predominantly nineteenth-century repertory gave way to more contemporary church music.
A memorable event took place on 22 November 1904, when a concert was held to raise funds for the church. This was organised by Australian-born violinist Johann Kruse (1859–1927), a member of the Joachim Quartet, who donated his services. Some of the proceeds were intended for new cassocks and surplices for the choir boys. By the end of the year Ireland’s influence was already being felt, with the Rector, Henry Bevan, writing in January 1905 of the excellent tone of the boys’ voices under the composer’s ‘skilled and careful training’. In part this was due to Ireland’s more zealous rehearsal schedule. Shortly after his appointment he had announced that he would hold a practice every day of the week, and required regular attendance!