I did the funny thing recently of doing some serious research into laughter. A particular kind of laughter. Not the kind that responds to humour, nor mocking; but a sort of bubbling-up of gladness. When “ha ha ha ha” is the heart’s expression for “hallelujah.”
The kind of laughter I imagine the rose is laughing in Rumi’s verse:
That which God said to the rose,
and caused it to laugh in full blown beauty,
He said to my heart,
and made it a hundred times more beautiful.
The Mustard Seeds are getting to know Jason Gray’s song “Laugh Out Loud,” which depicts laughter as the soul’s response to the love and grace of God. Gray goes as far as to say that laughter is worship. As he explains, “in the divine comedy of the love of God our laughter is a holy offering.”
The idea is reflected in the song’s lyrics:
But when you find you’ve been forgiven
Laughter will rise like a holy kind of praise
So I throw my head back and offer up my thanks!
The song is bright with sung laughter, whistling, and – in the version Gray recorded for his CD Love Will Have the Final Word – clapping as well as guitar, synth and percussion.
For The Mustard Seeds’ rendition [as part of the Sunday morning service on 3 April 2016] we will incorporate acoustic instruments as well as something new: our resident pop enthusiast has responded to the song with some choreography for the choir (thanks Lynette!). Learning to sing and move at the same time can be tricky, but it’s been very freeing as well. Musicians need to let go, repeatedly, of anxiety about the image we are projecting, and a change such as doing some dance moves is a great way to lighten up.
But there is a difference between having a light heart – taking ourselves lightly – and treating the subject of the song lightly. “Laugh Out Loud” is fun and the laughter here is born of solemn wonder and delight.
Botanical print courtesy of thegraphicsfairy.com
 “10 Questions with … Jason Gray”, All Access Music Group, March 3, 2014, http://www.allaccess.com/christian/10-questions/archive/18467/10-questions-with-jason-gray.