THERE is not much laughter around these days with all the worry of the pandemic but it is an important element in keeping our spirits up in difficult times.

The word laughter has so many meanings, many of which are bad, such as, “laughing in a person’s face,” or “laugh out of court.” But good laughter can improve our wellbeing and can be contagious and help others. We can laugh with them and not at them.

Do you remember “laughing gas” (nitrous oxide) used as an anaesthetic, that gave you that exhilarating feeling when you went to the dentist?

Ken Dodd had a wonderful quotation: 'Freud’s theory was that when a joke opens a window and all those bats and bogeymen fly out, you get a marvellous feeling of relief and elation. The trouble with Freud is that he never had to play the old Glasgow Empire on a Saturday night after Rangers and Celtic had both lost.'

In Genesis 18 verse 13 we find Abraham’s wife Sarah, laughing to herself when she hears messengers telling Abraham that, even in old age, she would conceive and have a son. This is the laughter of unbelief.

Psalm 121 verse 2 has these wonderful words: “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy.”

The Beatitudes have this beautiful line: “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”

Laughter can have so many meanings but laughter that comes from true joy is wonderful, healing and caught by others.

The book of Proverbs teaches us that “a merry heart does good like medicine.”

There are many tasks in life that cannot be done without a sense of humour and to hear children laugh restores the soul.

The late Gwyn ap Gwilym has a rendition of Psalm 126:

Pan adferodd Duw i Seion

Lwyddiant roeddem lon ein-calon.

Llawn o chwerthin oedd ein genau;

Bloeddio canu a wnâ i’n tafodau.

Ein llwyddiannau, Arglwydd, adfer,

Megis ffrydiau lle bu sychder.

Boed i’r rhai sy’n hau mewn dagrau

Mewn gorfoledd fedi’r cnydau

The closest that I can get to laughter in the hymn books is Dance.

I danced in the morning when the world was begun, and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun, and I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth; at Bethlehem I had my birth. Dance then, wherever you may be; I am the Lord of the Dance said he, and I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be, and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he. (Text and music by Sydney Carter. 1915)


God of laughter and joy, we turn to you today, as our ancestors have over the years. Light the way before us as we walk the path of life and keep us in your love and care. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Felly, rydym yn llawen. Yn llawen am dy fod yn aflonyddu arnom: yn llawen am dy fod yn mynnu chwilio amdanom; yn llawen am dy fod yn dod ar ein gwarthaf yn ddiarwybod a’n hwynebu â’th bresenoldeb. Oherwydd wrth i’n hwyllys blygu I ti, wrth i’th ddyfal air ein herio, ac wrth i ti ein galw i garu, i dosturio ac i wasdanaethu, cawsom fywyd, bywyd sy’n dal ati ac yn gryfach na marwolaeth. Amen

Rev John Powell

Retired vicar of Cardigan