Ceremony of Constitution and Consecration
Thomas Smith Webb
The Ceremony observed at Funerals, according to ancient
custom, with the Service used on the Occasion
No Mason can be interred with the formalities of the Order unless it
be, by his own special request, communicated to the Master of the Lodge of
which he died a member, foreigners and sojourners excepted; nor unless he
has been advanced to the third degree of Masonry; and from this
restriction there can be no exception. Fellow-crafts, or apprentices, are
not entitled to funeral obsequies, nor to attend the Masonic procession on
The Master of a Lodge, having received notice of a Master Mason's
death, and of his request to be interred with the ceremonies of the Order,
fixes the day and hour for the funeral, and issues his command to summon
the Lodge. He may invite as many Lodges as he thinks proper, and the
members of those Lodges may accompany their officers in form; but the
whole ceremony must be under the direction of the Master of the Lodge to
which the deceased belonged, and he and his officers must be duly honored,
and cheerfully obeyed on the occasion.*) But in case the deceased was not
a member of either of the attending Lodges, the procession and ceremony
must be under the direction of the Master of the oldest Lodge.
All the brethren who walk in procession should observe, as much as
possible, an uniformity in their dress. Decent mourning, with white
stockings, gloves, and aprons, is most suitable.
*) Except when the Grand or Deputy Grand Master is present, and
exercises his authority
THE FUNERAL SERVICE.
The brethren being assembled at the Lodge-room, (or some other
convenient place), the presiding Master opens the Lodge, in the third
degree, with the usual forms; and having stated the purpose of the
meeting, the service begins.
Master. What man is he that liveth and shall not see death?
Shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave?
Response. Man walketh in a vain shadow; he heapeth up riches,
and can not tell who shall gather them.
Master. When he dieth he shall carry nothing away; his glory
shall not descend after him.
Response. Naked he came into the world, and naked he must
Master. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken axay; blessed
be the name of the Lord!
The grand honors are then given, and certain forms used, which can not
be here explained.
The Master then, taking the sacred roll in his hand, says:
Let us die the death of the righteous, and let our last end be like
The brethren answer:
God is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even unto
The Master then records the name and age of the deceased upon the roll,
Almighty Father! into thy hands we commend the soul of our loving
The brethren answer three times (giving the grand honors each
The will of God is accomplished! so be it.
The Master then deposits the roll in the archives, and repeats the
Most glorious God! Author of all good, and Giver of all mercy! pour
down thy blessings upon us, and strengthen our solemn engagements with
the ties of sincere affection! May the present instance of mortality
remind us of our approaching fate, and draw our attention toward thee,
the only refuge in time of need! that when the awful moment shall arrive
that we are about to quit this transitory scene, the enlivening prospect
of thy mercy may dispel the gloom of death; and after our departure
hence in peace and in thy favor, we may be received into thine
everlasting kingdom, to enjoy, in union with the souls of our departed friends,
the just reward of a pious and virtuous life.
A procession is then formed, which moves to the house of the deceased,
and from thence to the place of interment. The different Lodges rank
according to seniority, except that the Lodge of which the deceased was a
member walks nearest the corpse. Each Lodge forms one division, and the
following order is observed:
ORDER OF PROCESSION AT A FUNERAL.
Tyler, with a Drawn Sword;
Stewards, with White Rods;
(if they are Masons; otherwise they follow the Tyler);
Senior and Junior Deacons;
Senior and Junior Wardens;
Writings, on a cushion covered with black cloth,
carried by the Oldest
Member of the Lodge;
With the insignia
The brethren are not to desert their ranks, or change places, but keep
in their different departments. When the procession arrives at the
churchyard, the members of the Lodge form a circle round the grave, and
the clergymen and officers of the acting Lodge, taking their station at
the head of the grave, and the mourners at the foot, the service is
resumed, and the following exhortation
Here we view a striking instance of the uncertainty of life, and the
vanity of all human pursuits. The last offices paid to the dead are only
useful as lectures to the living; from them we are to derive
instruction, and consider every solemnity of this kind as a summons to
prepare for our approaching dissolution.
Notwithstanding the various mementoes of mortality with which we
daily meet; notwithstanding death has established his empire over all
the works of nature; yet through some unaccountable infatuation we
forget that we are born to die: we go on from one design to another, add
hope to hope, and lay out plans for the eimployment of many years, till
we are suddenly alarmed with the approach of death, when we least expect
him, and at an hour which we probably conclude to be the meridian of our
What are all the externals of majesty, the pride of wealth, or charms
of beauty, when nature has paid her just debt? Fix your eyes on the last
scene, and view life stripped of her ornaments, and exposed in her
natural meanness; you will then be convinced of the futility of those
empty delusions. In the grave, all fallacies
are detected, all ranks are leveled, and all distinctions are done
While we drop the sympathetic tear over the grave of our deceased
friend, let charity incline us to throw a vail over his foibles,
whatever they may have been, and not withhold from his memory the praise
that his virtues may have claimed. Suffer the apologies of human nature
to plead in his behalf. Perfection on earth has never been attained; the
wisest as well as the best of men have erred.
Let the present example excite our most serious thoughts and
strengthen our resolutions of amendment. As life is uncertain, and all
earthly pursuits are vain, let us no longer postpone the important
concern of preparing for eternity; but embrace the happy moment, while
time and opportunity offer, to provide against the great change, when
all the pleasures of this world shall cease to delight, and the
reflections of a virtuous life yield the only comfort and consolation.
Thus our expectations will not be frustrated, nor we hurried unprepared
into the presence of an all-wise and powerful Judge, to whom the secrets
of all hearts are known.
Let us, while in this state of
existence, support with propriety the character of our profession, advert to the
nature of our solemn ties, and pursue with assiduity the sacred tenets
of our Order: Then, with becoming reverence, let us supplicate the
Divine grace to insure the favor of that eternal Being, whose goodness
and power know no bound; that when the awful moment arrives, be it soon
or late, we may be enabled to prosecute our journey, without dread or
apprehension, to that far distant country whence no traveler
The following invocations are then made by the Master:
Master. May we be true and faithful; and may we live and die
Answer. So mote it be.
Master. May we profess what is good, and always act agreeably
to our profession!
Answer. So mote it be.
Master. May the Lord bless us, and prosper us; and may all our
good intentions be crowned with success!
Answer. So mote it be.
Master. Glory be to God on high! on earth peace! good-will
Answer. So mote it be, now, from henceforth, and for
The brethren then move in procession round the place of interment, and
severally drop a sprig of evergreen into the grave, accompanied with the
The Master then concludes the ceremony at the grave in the following
From time immemorial it has been the custom among the Fraternity of
Free and Accepted Masons, at the request of a brother, to accompany his
corpse to the place of interment, and there to deposit his remains with
the usual formalities.
In conformity to this usage, and at the special request of our
deceased brother, whose memory we revere, and whose loss we now deplore,
we have assembled in the character of Masons to resign his body to the
earth whence it came, and to offer up to his memory, before the world,
the last tribute of our affection; thereby demonstrating the sincerity
of our past esteem, and our steady attachment to the principles of the
The great Creator having been pleased, out of his mercy, to remove
our brother from the cares and troubles of a transitory existence, to a
state of eternal duration, and thereby to weaken the chain by which we
are united, man to man, may we, who survive him, anticipate our
approaching fate, and be more strongly cemented in the ties of union and
friendship; that, during the short space allotted to our present
existence, we may wisely and usefully employ our time, and, in the
reciprocal intercourse of kind and friendly acts, mutually promote the
welfare and happiness of each other.
Unto the grave we resign the body of our deceased friend, there to
remain until the general resurrection, in favorable expectation that his
immortal soul may then partake of joys which have been prepared for the
righteous from the beginning of the world. And may Almighty God, of his
infinite goodness, at the grand tribunal of unbiased justice, extend his
mercy toward him, and all of us, and crown our hope with everlasting
bliss in the expanded realms of a boundless eternity. This we beg, for
the honor of his name; to whom be glory, now and forever.
Thus the service ends, and the procession returns in form to the place
whence it set out, where the necessary duties are complied with, and the
business of Masonry is renewed. The insignia and ornaments of the
deceased, if an officer of a Lodge, are returned to the Master with the
usual ceremonies, after which the charges for regulating the conduct of
the brethren are rehearsed, and the Lodge is closed in the third
CEREMONY OF CONSTITUTION AND CONSECRATION.
On the day and hour appointed, the Grand Master and his officers meet
in a convenient room near the Lodge to be constituted, and open in the
third degree. After the officers in the new Lodge are examined by the
Deputy Grand Master, they send a Messenger to the Grand Master, with the
following message, viz:
The officers and brethren of -- Lodge, who are
now assembled in their lodge-room at --, have instructed me to inform
you, that the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge was pleased to grant them a
charter, authorizing them to form and open a Lodge of Free and Accepted
Masons in the town of --. They are now desirous that their Lodge should
be consecrated, and their officers installed in due and ancient
form; for which purpose they are now met, and await the pleasure of
the Most Worshipful Grand Master.
When notice is given, the Grand Lodge walk in procession to the hall of
the new Lodge. When the Grand Master enters, the grand honors are given
the new Lodge; the officers of which resign their seats to the grand
officers, and take their several stations on the left.
The necessary cautions are given, and all, excepting Present or Past
Masters of Lodges, are requested to retire, until the Master of the new
Lodge is inducted into the Oriental Chair of Solomon. He is then
bound to the faithful performance of his trust, and invested with the
characteristics of the chair.
Upon due notice, the Grand Marshal re-conducts the brethren into the
hall, and all take their places, except the members of the new Lodge, who
form a procession on one side of the hall. As they advance, the Grand
Master addresses them.
"Brethren, behold your Master."
They make the proper salutation as they pass. A grand procession is
then formed, in the following order, viz:
Tyler with a drawn sword;
Two Stewards with white rods;
Royal Arch Masons;
THE NEW LODGE.
Tyler with a drawn sword;
Stewards with white rods;
Junior and Senior
Secretary and Treasurer;
Two brethren carrying the
Flooring, *) or Lodge;
Junior and Senior Wardens;
The Holy Writings,
carried by the oldest or some suitable
member not in office;
THE GRAND LODGE.
Grand Tyler with drawn sword;
Grand Stewards with white rods;
brother carrying a golden vessel of corn; +
Two brethren carrying the
silver vessels-one of wine,
the other of oil;
A burning taper, borne by a Past
A Past Master, bearing the Holy Writings, Square, and
supported by two Stewards with white rods;
tapers, borne by two Past Masters;
The Tuscan and Composite
The Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian Orders;
Past Deputy Grand Masters;
Past Grand Masters;
Clergy and Orator;
R. W. Junior and Senior Grand
R. W. Deputy Grand Master;
The Master of the Oldest Lodge,
the Book of Constitutions;
The M. W. Grand Master;
Grand Deacons, on a line seven feet apart,
on the right and left of the
Grand Master, with black rods;
Grand Sword Bearer with a drawn
Two Stewards with white rods.
The Marshals conduct the procession to the church or house where the
services are to be performed. When the front of the procession arrives at
the door, they halt, open to the right and left, and face inward; while
the Grand Master and others, in succession, pass through and enter the
house. A platform is erected in front of the pulpit, and provided with
seats for the accommodation of the Grand Officers.
The Holy Bible, Square and Compasses, and Book of Constitutions are
placed upon a table in front of the Grand Master. The flooring is then
spread in the center, upon the platform, covered with white satin or
linen, and encompassed by the three tapers, and the vessels of corn,
wine, and oil.
- A piece of Music.
- An Oration.
- A piece of Music.
- The Grand Marshal forms the officers and members of the new Lodge in
front of the Grand Master. The Deputy Grand Master addresses the Grand
Master as follows:
A number of brethren, duly instructed in the
mysteries of Masonry, having assemnbled together at stated periods, by
virtue of a dispensation granted them for that purpose, do now desire to
be constitated into a reglar Lodge, agreeably to the
ancient usages and customs of the Fraternity.
The dispensation and records are presented to the Grand Master, who
examines the records, and, if found correct, proclaims:
The records appear to be correct, and are approved. Upon due
deliberation, the Grand Lodge have granted the brethren of this new
Lodge a charter, establishing and confirming them in the rights and
privileges of a regularly constituted Lodge, which the Grand
Secretary will now read.
After the charter is read, the Grand Master then says:
We shall now proceed, according to ancient usage, to constitute these
brethren into a regular
Whereupon the several officers of the new Lodge deliver up their jewels
and badges to the Master, who presents them, with his own, to the Deputy
Grand Master, and he to the Grand Master.
The Deputy Grand Master presents the Master elect to the Grand Master,
MOST WORSHIPFUL GRAND MASTER:
I present my worthy Brother A. B. to
be installed Master of this (new) Lodge. I find him to be of good morals
and great skill, true and trusty; and as he is a lover of our whole
fraternity, wheresoever dispersed over the face of the earth, I doubt
not that he will discharge his duty with fidelity.
The Grand Master asks them if they remain satisfied with their choice.
[They bow in token of assent.]
The Master elect then presents, severally, his Wardens and other
officers, naming them and their respective offices. The Grand Master asks
the brethren if they remain satisfied with each and all of them. [They
bow as before.]
The officers and members of the new Lodge form in front of the Grand
Master; and the business of Consecration commences with solemn
CEREMONY OF CONSECRATION.
The Grand Master, attended by the Grand Officers and the Grand
Chaplain, form themselves in order round the Lodge - all devoutly
A piece of solemn music is performed, while the Lodge is uncovered.
After which, the first clause of the Consecration Prayer is rehearsed
by the Grand Chaplain, which is as follows:
"Great Architect of the Universe! Maker and Ruler of all worlds!
deign, from thy celestial temple, from realms of light and glory, to
bless us in all the purposes of our present assembly. We humbly invoke
thee to give us at this and at all times wisdom in all our
doings, strength of mind in all our difficulties, and the
beauty of harmony in all our communications. Permit us, O thou
Author of light and life, great Source of love and happiness, to erect
this Lodge, and now solemnly to consecrate it to the honor of thy
"Glory be to God on high."
[Response by the
"As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without
end. Anmen. So mote it be.
The Deputy Grand Master takes the Golden Vessel of Corn, and the Senior
and Junior Grand Wardens take the Silver Vessels of Wine and Oil, and
sprinkle the elements of consecration upon the Lodge.
The Grand Chaplain then continues:
"Grant, O Lord, our God, that those who are now about to be invested
with the government of this Lodge, may be endued with wisdom to instruct
their brethren in all their duties. May brotherly love, relief,
and truth always prevail among the members of this Lodge; and may
this bond of union continue to strengthen the Lodges throughout the
"Bless all our brethren, wherever dispersed; and grant speedy relief
to all who are either oppressed or distressed.
"We affectionately commend to thee all the members of thy whole
family. May they increase in grace, in the knowledge of thee, and in the
love of each
"Finally: may we finish all our work here below with thy approbation;
and then have our transition from this earthly abode to thy heavenly
temple above, there to enjoy light, glory, and bliss, ineffable and
"Glory be to God on high."
[Response by the Brethren.]
"As it was in the beginning, is
now, and ever shall be; world without end.
- A piece of solemn music is performed while the Carpet is covered.
- The Grand Chaplain then dedicates the Lodge in the following
"To the memory of the HOLY STS. JOHN we dedicate this Lodge. May
every brother revere their character, and imitate their virtues.
"Glory be to God on high."
"As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall
be; world without end. Amen. So mote it
- A piece of music is performed, while the brethren of the new Lodge
advance in procession to salute the Grand Lodge, with their hands
crossed upon their breasts as they pass. They then take their places as
- The Grand Master then rises and constitutes the new Lodge in the
"In the name of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, I now constitute and
form you, my beloved brethren, into a regular Lodge of Free and Accepted
Masons. From henceforth I empower you to meet as a regular Lodge,
constituted in conformity to the rights of our Order, and the charges of
our ancient and honorable Fraternity; and may the Supreme Architect of
the Universe prosper, direct, and counsel you in all your doings.
Response: " So mote it
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