Tambourines of Childhood

Tambourines of Childhood February 27, 2021

Williams, Penry; Italian Girl with Tambourine; Tate; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/italian-girl-with-tambourine-202868

The fashionable sort are figuring out what the folks did wrong back in the day. Given now, I prefer to think of what we have lost and might regain as we also prize what we have gained and should not lose. I think of men and women who will not be the subject of books, but are remembered in the Lamb’s Book of Life. These were people who worked regular jobs, but were leaders in God’s Kingdom. They might have been blue collar, housewives, the help in the American economy, but they were King’s Kids in Church.

I remember they could shout.

Very old men stood up to shout in Sunday evening services in Parson’s Chapel, singing songs so ancient that nobody else knew them. They were glad, joyful, full of thunder. And I recall Sunday nights in Penfield, New York, in a little white church when women would play  tambourines and shout to the glory of God so loud as to wake the dead. We were all glad and like Miriam they led us against wickedness. There is nothing like the sound of gladsome tambourines to the glory of God to overwhelm the world, the flesh, and devils.

As a young man, having blown it, sorry, at the bottom and deserving to be there, I walked to church. In that holy place the tambourines sounded and I could celebrate the triumph of God. There was nothing good in me, but “let God arise and let His enemies be scattered.” The tambourine ladies were the sort who would put a tent peg into the head of any tyrant.

The establishment, decadent and tired, hates gladsome noise from the lower element and I suspect hates tambourines which require few credentials to play. They are almost always the instrument of the classes our betters would rather be kept quiet. Miriam was singing the defeat of Pharaoh, that slaver tyrant, with his horses and riders thrown into the sea. The establishment tries to make us ashamed of shouts about God’s victory. They try to buy us off with treats or a prosperity gospel. The tambourine ladies demand the horse and rider be thrown into the sea!

The joyful stand on the other side of victory. The hard work of reasoning, fighting, arguing is done. The victory is won. Nobody asks the winner of the Super Bowl to be calm in the moment. The day of analysis is later, the moment of victory deserves a tambourine. Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered.

If I must pick sides, I pick the side of those folks and the tambourines.







To the glory of God!


To glory!

A gospel shout

And a gospel song:

Life is short

But God is long!




To glory!*



*Hughes, Langston. Selected Poems of Langston Hughes (Vintage Classics) (p. 30). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Langston Hughes is my favorite American poet . . . since fifth grade! (This was one of the few things to come from that no-good year.) He always is worth reading. He challenges me, often disagrees with me, but frequently illuminates me. Thank God for such a poet.


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