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CEREMONY OF LAYING THE FOUNDATION STONES OF PUBLIC STRUCTURES
Thomas Smith Webb
This ceremony is conducted by the M. W. Grand Master and his officers, assisted by such officers and members of subordinate Lodges as can conveniently attend. The chief magistrate, and other civil officers of the place where the building is to be erected, also generally attend on the occasion.
At the time appointed, the Grand Lodge is convened in some suitable place. A band of martial music is provided, and the brethren appear in the insignia of the Order.
The Lodge is then opened by the Grand Master, and the rules for regulating the procession are read by the Grand Secretary. The Lodge is then adjourned; after which the procession sets out in due form, in the following order:
Procession at Laying Foundation Stones.
Two Tylers with drawn Swords;
A Triumphal Arch is usually erected at the place where the ceremony is to be performed. The procession passes through the arch; and the brethren repairing to their stands, the Grand Master and his officers take their places on a temporary platform, covered with carpet. The Grand Master commands silence. An Ode on Masonry is sung; after which, the necessary preparations are made for laying the stone, on which is engraved the year of Masonry, the name and title of the Grand Master, etc., etc.
The stone is raised up, by means of an engine erected for that purpose, and the Grand Chaplain or Orator repeats a short prayer.
The Grand Treasurer, then, by the Grand Master's command, places under the stone various sorts of coin and medals of the present age. Solemn music is introduced, and the stone is let down into its place.
The principal architect then presents the working tools to the Grand Master, who applies the plumb, square, and level to the stone, in their proper positions, and pronounces it to be WELL FORMED, TRUE, and TRUSTY.
The golden and silver vessels are next brought to the table and delivered; the former to the Deputy Grand Master, and the latter to the Grand Wardens, who successively present them to the Grand Master; and he, according to ancient ceremony, pours the corn, the wine, and the oil which they contain on the stone, saying:
He then strikes the stone thrice with the mallet; and the public grand honors are given. *) The Grand Master then delivers over to the Architect the various implements of architecture, intrusting him with the superintendence and direction of the work; after which he reascends the platform, and an oration suitable to the occasion is delivered.
A voluntary collection is made for the needy workmen; and the sum collected is placed upon the stone by the Grand Treasurer.
A suitable song in honor of Masonry concludes the ceremony; after which, the procession returns to the place whence it set out, and the Lodge is closed in due form.
The fourth section contains the ceremony observed at the Dedication of Freemasons' Halls.
On the day appointed, the Grand Master and his officers, accompanied by the members of the Grand Lodge, meet in a convenient room near the place where the ceremony is to be performed, and open in due and ample form, in the third degree of Masonry.
The Master of the Lodge to which the Hall to be dedicated belongs, being present, addresses the Grand Master as follows:
The Grand Master then directs the Grand Marshal to form the procession, when they move forward to the Hall to be dedicated. On entering, the music will continue, while the procession marches three times round the hall.
The carpet or flooring is then placed in the center; and the Grand Master having taken the chair, under a canopy of state, the Grand Officers, and the Masters and Wardens of the Lodges repair to the places previously prepared for their reception. The three Lights, and the Gold and Silver Pitchers, with the corn, wine, and oil, are placed round the Lodge, at the head of which stands the Altar, with the Holy Bible open, and the Square and Compasses laid thereon, with the Charter, Book of Constitutions, and By-laws.
An Anthem is sung, and an Exordium on Masonry given; after which the Architect addresses the Grand Master as follows:
To which the Grand Master makes the following reply:
An Ode in honor of Masonry is sung, accompanied with instrumental music.
The Deputy Grand Master then rises and says:
Whereupon a procession is formed in the following order, viz:
All the other brethren keep their places, and assist in performing an Ode, which continues during the procession, excepting only at the intervals of dedication. The Carpet being uncovered, the first time passing round it, the Grand Junior Warden presents the Pitcher of Corn to the Grand Master, who pours it out upon the Lodge, at the same time pronouncing:
[The grand honors are given.]
The second time passing round the Lodge, the Grand Senior Warden presents the Pitcher of Wine to the Grand Master, who sprinkles it upon the Carpet, at the same time saying:
[The grand honors are twice given.]
The third time passing round the Lodge, the Deputy Grand Master presents the Grand Master with the Pitcher of Oil, who pours it upon the Carpet, saying:
[The grand honors are thrice given.]
A solemn Invocation is made to the Throne of Grace by the Grand Chaplain, and an Anthem sung; after which the Carpet is covered, and the Grand Master retires to his Chair.
An Oration is then delivered, and the ceremonies conclude with music. The Grand Lodge is then closed in due or ample form.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014