Handel this: Handel’s Messiah is most often sung during the Christmas season, but Handel intended it to be performed during Holy Week. In his lifetime the work was seldom sung in churches but was sung in playhouses, where opera was performed. When the influence of Puritans in 18th-century England led to the banning of operas during Lent, oratorios like the Messiah became a popular alternative form of entertainment (Frank Burch Brown in Interpretation, January).
The drive-by gunfire killing of six Coptic Christians in Egypt at their church on January 6, the eve of their Christmas celebration, has drawn widespread shock from the Vatican and church leaders in Europe, the Middle East and Australia.
A nationwide poll of 1,100 Protestant church leaders in the last quarter of 2009 found that 57 percent said the economy affected their congregation negatively over the past year, but only 8 percent called the effect “very negative.”
The New Jersey state senate has voted down a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, prompting a promise from gay-rights advocates to take their campaign to the courts. The final tally on January 7 was 20–14 with three abstentions. It reflected a dramatic shift in the state’s political landscape since gay-marriage supporter Gov.