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American poet Jack Prelutsky is best known for his numerous anthologies of children's poetry. Since 1996 I have set a number of his poems, most substantially in the cycle for choir and brass band The Dragons are Singing Tonight and Monday's Troll for choir and orchestra. However he has also written poems for older readers, some of which appeared as the 1991 collection There'll be a Slight Delay and other poems for grown-ups. In this collection are musings on various facets of contemporary life: everything from sexual infidelity to what dogs do on footpaths! I Watched a Televangelist is a commentary on the typical (American) television preacher. Out to get your money, they promise salvation in return for your contribution, although perhaps not as blatantly as the one in the poem. The music includes passing references to several hymns, the Hallelujah Chorus, and suggests the style of the Battle Hymn of the Republic. The original version of this piece was written for Auckland choir GALS (Gay and Lesbian Singers) many of whose members, I felt, would respond to the text's somewhat jaundiced view of religion. This re-working for male voices was made in 2004.
Text by Jack Prelutsky