The Splendour Falls and the other songs from The Princess were written for a performance of tableaux from The Princess by the girls of James Allen Girls’ School in London, where Holst taught. The song is scored for Female Voices SA with a small echo choir, unaccompanied, and is full of recognizably Holstian shifting harmonies and Vocal effects.
In 1847, Alfred Tennyson – later Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom – published a narrative poem, The Princess, that concerned the education of women. In The Princess, set at a summer fete, a new college for women is created by Princess Ida. A Prince and his friends infiltrate, dressed as women. A love story ensues. The Princess was also the source material for Gilbert and Sullivan’s Princess Ida.