"Monday Morning Church," a Top 5 hit for Alan Jackson in 2004, addresses the potential conflict between two country music tropes: songs of Christian faith and tales of unspeakable loss.

Jackson and harmony vocalist Patty Loveless grapple with the mortal pain and eternal questions faced by a man after the death his partner, the spiritual leader of their home. It's not a blasphemous song; if anything, it reminds listeners that belief in things unseen becomes difficult at times when life and death seem unfair and unrelenting.

Read on to learn the origins of the powerful song from its co-writer, Erin Enderlin. The singer-songwriter penned "Monday Morning Church" with Brent Baxter.

I was lucky enough to meet some folks that ended up leading me to my first publisher when I was a junior in college [at Middle Tennessee State University]. I ended up getting a cut on Alan Jackson my senior year, “Monday Morning Church.”

I went home for Christmas when I was 19 and met up with a guy named Brent Baxter, who was in Arkansas at the time. We’d met at a show I’d played. We got together to do some writing while I was home on break. He had that idea from a poem his mom had written. I lost a friend to a car accident the year before, and it really struck a chord with me.

We wrote the song, and I brought it back to Nashville and started playing it around. I played it out at a bar called the Broken Spoke here in town, and it broke up a fistfight. Two guys stopped punching each other in the face and sat down to listen to the song. I thought, “Man, I might really have something here!”

Another woman, Reese Faw, introduced me to her boss, [music publisher] Jeff Carlton. I played the song for him, and he liked it enough to take money out of his own pocket and pay for me to do five demo recordings. He started pitching the songs, and eventually got it to [producer] Keith Stegall and Alan.

Jeff took me over to Alan’s publishing company, and he had a copy of the song. We got to hear it there in his office, and that was pretty surreal. Since Alan writes so many of his own songs, I never would’ve guessed he’d be the first person to cut one of my songs. Not only that, but to put Patty Loveless on harmonies and to release it as a single, it was pretty wild.

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