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Easter Sunday. Blue Monday. Shrove Tuesday. Ash Wednesday. Maundy Thursday. Good Friday. Holy Saturday.

Each day of the week is hallowed in the Anglophone religious mind. The Lenten-Paschal cycle gives prominence to things that happened on specific days of the hebdomadal round, and these named days give as much shape to our lives as we allow. For some of us, the weekly arrival of Friday reminds us not of Rebecca Black, but of 'the one true, pure, immortal sacrifice' of Christ on the cross. The constant return of Sunday in our schedules is a chance to bask in a Little Easter not just once a year, but as many times as there are weeks in our lives. If we're particularly fortunate, we may even have pancakes, fasnachts or pączki every Tuesday outside of Lent in devout and indulgent remembrance of Shrove Tuesday.

But we hope that Blue Monday stood out from the list for you. Blue Monday has become current in pseudo-academia as a term for the 'most depressing day of the year,' as determined by a complex mathematical formula.

Blue Monday has an older meaning in the language of churchfolk, though, as the 'down day' experienced by clergy, musicians and active churchgoers of all kinds after the 'up day' of Sunday with all of its expectation, energy, and excitement. If ever on the day after Sunday you've inhaled a deep breath from a sweater or scarf worn in church to see whether it still holds a whiff of incense, you know the affectionate melancholy of a Blue Monday.

When cheerful but not cheap sermons have been preached and heard; the best and brightest hymns have been sung; confident bells have been rung; when coffee-hour discussions have ended and the cleanup from elevenses is done; when post-liturgical meals have been eaten; when the verger has restored order to the hymnals of each pew; when all this is followed by postprandial naps and Evensong or Compline, all with punctuation by tea, or coffee, or gin, or sherry; an Anglican Sunday is over, and only a Blue Monday could ever follow in its wake.

Most of you read AO and browse our News Centre and Noted This Week pages on Blue Monday each week, and this is meet and right. Blue Monday Musings was the name of a kind of predecessor to AO's frontpage letters written over the span of two decades at the beginning of the twentieth century by William Harman van Allen (1870-1931), rector of the Church of the Advent in Boston from 1902 to 1929. Each week, the column by Presbyter Ignotus (as Fr. van Allen always signed himself) was the first destination of interest for readers of the Living Church magazine when it had bureaux and correspondents in all the active centres of its religious world: Chicago, Milwaukee, New York, Boston, and London. These Blue Monday Musings are full of delightful excerpta taken from their author's wide reading and correspondence. His opinions about clerical and episcopal movements around the checkerboard of the Anglican Communion are still enjoyable for their wit and wry humour. For the happy few who can still read between the lines to identify early twentieth-century church gossip, Fr. van Allen's Blue Monday Musings are still indeed, in the words of someone who wrote about them later, 'spicy pages, which, unless carefully edited, tended to be indiscreet'.*

For all their informative, intelligent tone, however, we wonder if the Blue Monday Musings of Presbyter Ignotus always strike quite the same note we try to find at AO. We know well the very familiar mindset of Blue Monday, but at our best we try to strike a sweeter, lighter sound much more like the Eastern Christian conception of Bright Monday. For Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Christians, the entire week after the Resurrection—Bright Week—is radically different: penitential prayers and fasting are forbidden; funerals are not terribly funereal, with folk belief that attaches a very high honour to those who die and are buried in Eastertide; monastics and layfolk alike drench one another in water from buckets, sponges, or waterguns. Bright Monday is just the beginning of the weekly cycle full of Easter joy. And so we hope that at least some of you think of us as Bright Monday Musings written by people who love to sing

Seven whole days, not one in seven, I will praise thee;
In my heart, though not in heaven, I can raise thee.
Small it is, in this poor sort to enroll thee:
E'en eternity's too short to extol thee.

See you next week, starting on what we hope will be for you and for us a Brighter Blue Monday than ever before.

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Last updated: 15 May 2011

* William Bertrand Stevens, Editor's Quest: A Memoir of Frederic Cook Morehouse (Milwaukee: Morehouse-Gorham Co., 1940), 167.

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