Langston Hughes wrote lyrics to these songs for his novel and play Tambourines to Glory with a small, independent gospel church chorus just like this in mind. Tambourines to Glory has ratings and 25 reviews. For every bustling jazz joint that opened in Korean War–era Harlem, a new church seemed to spring up. In Langston Hughes's Tambourines to Glory, the tambourine is used as a major metaphor in the story. The metaphor starts with the realization of the double use.


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Tambourines to Glory introduces you to an unlikely team behind a church whose rock was the curb at th and Lenox. Essie Belle Johnson and Laura Reed live in adjoining tenement flats, adrift on public relief. Laura is the tambourine turned on its head.

People tambourines to glory at the tambourine, and they see an instrument of music, so they do not question the emptiness of tambourines to glory "bowl" formed by the underside of the tambourine.


They listen to Laura and think they are hearing the music of God talking to them. In gratitude for inspiring them, they dig into their pockets when Laura passes through the crowd with her concave tambourine, and they do their best to fill it up. At first, only nickels tambourines to glory dimes drop into the tambourine.

But as time goes by, that tambourine's appetite increases.


The more Laura gets, the more she wants. There is one big difference, however, between a real tambourine and Laura.

Whereas the real tambourine has a finite capacity, Laura's greed is endless. The title of Hughes's novel uses the plural form of the word tambourine despite tambourines to glory fact that the main characters of this story own only one tambourine. They start out with one tambourine and one bible.

So tambourines to glory does Hughes use the plural form? What other tambourine is he referring to? Maybe he uses the concept of more than one tambourine tambourines to glory exemplify the differences in the two main characters, anticipating the eventual split between Essie and Laura at the end of the novel.

And if this is so, then his meaning of glory more than likely reflects two different definitions. Essie is one type of tambourine, and because her tambourine differs from Laura's, the version of glory that she represents is most likely defined in different terms.

Tambourines to Glory

Glory for Essie implies beauty and grandeur. And Essie does tambourines to glory both. Her beauty reigns best when one looks tambourines to glory of her. She gets caught up with Laura's ideas of starting a church not for the money but rather for the peace of mind, the inspiration, and the passion of doing good works.

She does not deny herself the rewards of her trade, but she puts aside most of it with an eye to sharing the benefits with those who need it the most.

Tambourines to Glory |

And as the narrator relates: Essie thought it ought to go in some way to the works of God. She wants to add a nursery or pre-school and a medical clinic.

Essie's glory is the beneficial tambourines to glory of pride—a confidence that she can do good. Laura's glory is something else. It is more along the lines of credit and fame.