Help Me Maintain OUR Website!!!!!!
present or past master
the masonic manual
THIS degree should be carefully studied, and well understood, by every Master of a Lodge It treats of the government of our society; the disposition of our rulers; and illustrates their requisite qualifications. It includes the ceremony of opening and closing lodges in the several preceding degrees; and also the forms of Installation and Consecration, in the Grand Lodge as well as private lodges. It comprehends the ceremonies at laying the foundation stones of pubtic buildings, and also at dedications and at funerals, by a variety of particulars explanatory of those ceremonies.*)
* For the ceremonies connected with the working of this degree see pp. 109-113. A lesson from Ps. 1. should be read at opening.
Any number of Master Masons, not under seven, desirous of forming a new Lodge, must apply, by petition, to the Grand Lodge of the State in which they reside, as follows:
"To the M W. Grand Lodge of the State of -.
The undersigned petitioners, being Ancient Free and Accepted Master Masons, having the prosperity of the fraternity at heart, and willing to exert their best endeavors to promote and diffuse the genuine principles of Masonry, respectfully represent - That they are desirous of forming a new lodge in the -- of --, to be named --, No.--. They therefore pray for letters of dispensation, or a warrant of constitution, to empower them to assemble as a legal Lodge, to discharge the duties of Masonry, in a regular and constitutional mannar, according to the original forms of the Order, and the regulations of the Grand Lodge. They have nominated and do recommend brother A. B to be the first Master; C. D to be the first Senior Warden, and E. F. to be the first Junior Warden, of said Lodge. If the prayer of the petition shall be granted, they promise a strict conformity to the constitution, laws and regulations of the Grard Lodge." *)
*) This is also the ease when chartered lodges cease to exist.
*) This petition, being signed by at least seven regular master masons
(one of whom must be a Past Master, and recommended by a lodge or lodges
adjacent to the place where the new lodge is to be holden, is delivered to
the Grand Secretary, who lays it before the Grand
On the day and hour appointed, the Grand Master and his officers meet in a convenient room, near to that in which the lodge to be constituted is assembled, and open the Grand Lodge in the third degree of masonry.
The officers of the new lodge are to be examined by the Deputy Grand Master; after which they return to their lodge.
The new lodge then sends one of its members to the Grand Master, with the following message, viz:
"MOST WORSHIPFUL: -- The officers and brethren of -- Lodge, who are now assembled at --, have instructed me to inform you, that the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge (or Grand Master) was pleased to grant them a letter of dispensation, bearing date the -- day of -- in the year --, authorizing them to form and open a lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, in the -- of --; that since that period they have regularly assembled, and conducted the business of masonry according to the best of their abilities; that their proceedings, having received the approbation of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, they have obtained a Charter of Constitution, and are desirous that their lodge should be consecrated, and their officers installed, agreeably to the ancient usages and customs of the Craft; for which purpose they are now met, and await the pleasure of the Most Worshipful Grand Master"
He then returns to his lodge, who prepare for the reception of the Grand Lodge. When notice is given that they are prepared, the Grand Lodge walk in procession to their hall. When the Grand Master enters, the grand honors are given by the new lodge; the officers of which resign their seats to the grand officers, and take their several stations on their left.
The necessary cautions are then given, and all, excepting Masters and Past Masters of lodges, are requested to retire, until the Master of the new lodge is placed in the Oriental Chair. He is then bound to the faithful performance of his trust, and duly invested.
Upon due notice, the Grand Marshal reconducts 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, to salute their Master. As they advance, the Grand Master addresses them, "Brethren, Behold your Master!" As they pass, they make the proper salutation, and when they have all passed, he joins them, and takes his appropriate station.
A grand procession is then formed in the following order, viz:
Tyler, with a drawn Sword;
THE NEW LODGE.
Tyler, with a drawn Sword;
THE GRAND LODGE.
Grand Tyler, with a drawn
The procession moves on 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 Bible, Square and Compass, and Book of Constitutions, are placed upon a table in front of the Grand Master; the Lodge is placed in the centre, upon a platform, covered with white satin, or linen, and encompassed by the three tapers, and the vessels of corn, wine and oil.
Their Secretary then delivers the dispensation and records to the Master elect, who presents them to the Grand Master.
The Grand Master examines the records, and if they are found correct. proclaints,
"The records appear to be properly entered, and are approved. Upon due deliberation, the Grand Lodge have granted the brethren of this new lodge, a Charter, 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 lodge."
Whereupon the several officers of the new lodge deliver up their jewels and badges to their Master, who presents them with his own, to the Deputy Grand Master, and he to the Grand Master.
The Deputy Grand Master now presents the Master elect of the new lodge, to the Grand Master, saying,
"MOST WORSHIPFUL: - I present you Brother --, whom the members of the lodge now to be constituted, have chosen for their Master."
The Grand Master asks them if they remain satisfied with their choice. (They boe in token of assent.)
The Master 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 then form in the broad aisle, in front of the Grand Master, and the business of CONSECRATION commences with solemn music.
The Grand Master, attended by the grand officers and the Grand Chaplain, form themselves in order, round the lodge, which is then uncovered, while a piece of solemn music is performed. The first clause of the Consecration Prayer is rehearsed, 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!
"Glory be to God on high." Response.
During the response, the Deputy Grand Master, and the Grand Wardens, take the vessels of corn, 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 world!
"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 the knowledge of thee, and in the love of each other.
"Finally; May we finish all our work here below, with thine approbation; and then have our transition from this earthly abode to thy heavenly temple above, there to enjoy light, glory and bliss ineffable and eternal!
"Glory be to God on high!" Response.
A piece of solemn music is performed while the lodge is covered.
The Grand Chaplain then DEDICATES the Lodge in the following terms:
"To the memory of HOLY SAINTS JOHN we dedicate this Lodge. May every brother revere their character, and imitate their virtues.
"Glory be to God on high."
Response: "Amen! so mote it be! Amen!
A piece of music is then performed, whilst the brethren of the new lodge advance in procession, to salute the Grand Lodge, with their hands crossed upon their breasts, and bowing as they pass.
The Grand Master then rises, and CONSTITUTES the new lodge in the form following:
"In the name of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge, I now constitute and form you, my brethren, into a lodge of Free and Accepted Masons. From henceforth I empower you to act as a regular lodge, constituted in conformity to the rites of our Order, and the charge 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 be!"
The Grand Master (in this and other similar instances, where the Grand Master is specified in acting may be understood any Master who performs the ceremony) asks his Deputy, "Whether he has examined the Master nominated in the warrant, and finds him well skilled in the noble science and the royal art." The Deputy answering in the affirmative, (a private examination is understood to precede the installation of every officer) by the Grand Master's order, takes the candidate from among his fellows, and presents him at the pedestal, saying, "Most Worshipful 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 of great skill, true and trusty; and I doubt not he will discharge his duty with fidelity."
The Grand Master then addresses him:
"BROTHER: - Previous to your investiture, it is necessary that you should signify your assent to those ancient charges and regulations which point out the duty of a Master of a Lodge."
The Grand Master then reads, or orders to be read, a summary of the ancient charges to the Master elect, as follows, viz:
These are the regulations of Free and Accepted Masons.
The Grand Master then addresses the Master elect in the following manner: "Do you submit to these charges, and promise to support these regulations, as Masters have done in all ages before you?"
The Master having signified his cordial submission as before, the Grand Master thus addresses him: --
"Brother A. B., in consequence of your conformity to the charges and regulations of the Order, you are now to be installed Master of this lodge, in full confidence of your care, skill and capacity to govern the same."
The Master is then
regularly invested with the insignia of his office, and the furniture and
implements of his lodge. The various implements of the profession are
emblematical of our conduct in life, and upon this occasion are carefully
Writings, that great light in Masonry, will guide you to all truth; it
will direct your paths to the temple of happiness, and point out to you
the whole duty of man.
teaches us to regulate our actions by rule and line, and to harmonize our
conduct by the principles of morality and virtue.
The Compass teaches us to limit our desires in every station, that, rising to eminence by merit; we may live respected, and die regretted.
directs, that we should punctually observe our duty; press forward in the
path of virtue, and, neither inclining to the right or to the left, in all
our actions have eternity in view.
teaches us the criterion of moral rectitude, to avoid dissimulation in
conversation and action, and to direct our steps to the path which leads
The Book of
Constitutions you are to search at all times. Cause it to be read in
your lodge, that none may pretend ignorance of the excellent precepts it
You now receive in
charge the Charter, by the authority of which this lodge is held.
You are carefully to preserve and duly transmit it to your successor in
receive in charge the By-Laws of your lodge, which you are to see
carefully and punctually executed.
The Jewels of the officers of the new lodge are then returned to the Master, who delivers them, respectively, to the several officers of the Grand Lodge, according to their rank.
The subordinate officers of the new lodge are then invested with their jewels, by the grand officers of corresponding rank; and are by them, severally in turn, conducted to the Grand Master, who delivers to each of them a short charge, as follows: -
" Brother C. D., you are appointed*) Senior Warden of this lodge, and are now invested with the insignia of your office.
"The Level demonstrates that we are descended from the same stock, partake of the same nature, and share the same hope; and though distinctions among men are necessary to preserve subordination, yet no eminence of station should make us forget that we are brethren; for he who is placed on the lowest spoke of fortune's wheel, may be entitled to our regard; because a time will come, and the wisest knows not how soon, when all distinctions, but that of goodness, shall cease; and death, the grand leveler of human greatness, reduce us to the same state.
"Your regular attendance on our stated meetings is essentially necessary. In the absence of the Master, you are to govern this lodge; in his presence, you are to assist him in the government of it. I firmly rely on your knowledge of Masonry, and attachment to the lodge for the faithful discharge of the duties of this important trust - Lock well to the West!"
*) When the Installation is not of the officers of a new lodge, the words "have been elected," should be substituted for the words "an appointed," in all cases where the officer is chosen by ballot.
"Brother E. F., you are appointed Junior Warden of this lodge; and are now invested with the badge of your office.
The Plumb admonishes us to walk uprightly in our several stations, to hold the scale of justice in equal poise; to observe the just medium between intemperance and pleasure, and to make our passions and prejudices coincide with the line of our duty. To you is committed the superintendence of the craft during the hours of refreshment; it is therefore indispensably necessary that you should not only be temperate and discreet in the indulgence of your own inclinations, but carefully observe that none of the craft be suffered to convert the purposes of refreshment into intemperance and excess. Your regular and punctual attendance is particularly requested, and I have no doubt that you will faithfully execute the duty which you owe to your present appointment. - Look well to the South!"
"Brother G. H., you are appointed Treasurer of this lodge. It is your duty to receive all moneys trom the hands of the Secretary; keep just and regular accounts of the same, and pay them out at the Worshipful Master's will and pleasure, with the consent of the lodge. I trust your regard for the fraternity will prompt you to the faithful discharge of the duties of your office."
"Brother I. K., you are appointed Secretary of this lodge. It is your duty to observe the Worshipful Master's will and pleasure; to record the proceedings of the lodge, to receive all moneys, and pay them into the hands of the Treasurer. Your good inclination to Masonry and this lodge, I hope, will induce you to discharge the duties of your office with fidelity, and by so doing, you will merit the esteem and applause of your brethren."
"Rev. Brother L. M.,
you are appointed Chaplain of this lodge. It is your duty to perform those
solemn services which we should constantly render to our infinite Creator;
and which, when offered by one whose holy profession is "to point to
heaven and lead the way," may, by refining our souls, strengthening our
virtues, and purifying our minds, prepare us for admission into the
society of those above, whose happiness will be as endless as it is
"Brothers L. M. and N. O., you are appointed Deacons of this lodge. It is your province to attend on the Master and Wardens, and to act as their proxies in the active duties of the lodge; such as in the reception of candidates into the different degrees of Masonry; the introduction and accommodation of visitors, and in the immediate practice of our rites. The Square and Compasses, as badges of your office, I entrust to your care, not doubting your vigilance and attention."
*) A silver dove is the correct jewel of the Deacons.- Oliver.
"Brothers R. S. and T. U.,
you are appointed Stewards (Masters of Ceremonies) of this lodge. The
duties of your office are to assist the Deacons and other officers in
performing their respective duties. Your regular and early attendance will
afford the best proof of your zeal and attachment to the lodge."
"Brother V. W., you are appointed Tyler of this lodge, and I invest you with the implement of your office. As the sword is placed in the hands of the Tyler, to enable him effectually to guard against the approach of cowans and eavesdroppers, and suffer none to pass or repass but such as are duly qualified, so it should admonish us to set a guard over our thoughts, a watch at our lips, post a sentinel over our actions; thereby preventing the approach of every unworthy thought or deed, and preserving consciences void of offence towards GOD and towards man."
"WORSHIPFUL MASTER: - The Grand Lodge having committed to your care the superintendence and government of the brethren who are to compose this lodge, you cannot be insensible of the obligations which devolve on you as their head; nor of your responsibility for the faithful discharge of the important duties annexed to your appointment. The honor, reputation and usefulness of your lodge, will materially depend on the skill and assiduity with which you manage its concerns; whilst the happiness of its members will be generally promoted, in proportion to the zeal and ability with which you propagate the genuine principles of our institution.
"For a pattern of imitation, consider the great luminary of nature, which, rising in the East, regularly diffuses light and lustre to all within the circle. In like manner it is your province to spread and communicate light and instruction to the brethren of your lodge. Forcibly impress upon them the dignity and high importance of Masonry; and seriously admonish them never to disgrace it. Charge them to practice out of the lodge, those duties which they have been taught in it; and by amiable, discreet and virtuous conduct, to convince mankind of the goodness of the institution; so that when a person is said to be a member of it, the world may know that he is one to whom the burthened heart may pour out its sorrows; to whom distress may prefer its suit; whose hand is guided by justice, and his heart is expanded by benevolence. In short, by a diligent observance of the By-laws of your lodge, the Constitutions of Masonry, and above all, the Holy Scriptures, which are given as a rule and guide to your faith, you will be enabled to acquit yourself with honor and reputation, and lay up a crown of rejoicing, which shall continue when time shall be no more.
"BROTHER SENIOR AND JUNIOR WARDENS:
BRETHREN of -- LODGE:
"Finally, my brethren, as this association has been formed and perfected in so much unanimity and concord, in which we greatly rejoice, so may it long continue. May you long enjoy every satisfaction and delight, which disinterested friendship can afford. May kindness and brotherly affection distinguish your conduct, as men and as masons. Within your peaceful walls, may your children celebrate with joy and gratitude, the annual recurrence of this auspicious solemnity. And may the tenets of our profession be transmitted through your lodge, pure and unimpaired, from generation to generation."
The Grand Marshal then proclaims the new lodge, in the following manner, viz:
"In the name of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the State of --, I proclaim this new Lodge, by the name of -- Lodge, duly constituted."
The Grand Chaplain then makes the concluding prayer, which ends the public ceremonies.
The grand procession is then formed in the same order as before, and returns to the hall. The following, or some other ode, is sung, which concludes the ceremony of installation.
Music - "Bright Rosy Morning."
The lodge is then closed with the usual solemnities in the different degrees, by the Grand Master and his officers.
This is the usual ceremony observed by regular Masons at the Constitution of a new lodge, which the Grand Master may abridge or extend at pleasure; but the material points are upon no account to be omitted. The same ceremony and charges attend every succeeding installation of new officers.
THIS ceremony is conducted by the Grand Master and his officers, assisted by the members of the Grand Lodge, and such officers and members of private 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, approved by the Grand Master. A band of martial music is provided, and the brethren appear in the insignia of the Order, and with white gloves and aprons. The lodge is opened by the Grand Master, and the rules for regulating the procession to and from the place where the ceremony is to be performed, are read by the Grand Secretary. The necessary cautions are then given from the Chair, and the lodge is adjourned; after which the procession sets out in the following order:
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.
An ode in honor of Masonry is then sung.
The Grand Master commands silence, and the necessary preparations are made for laying the stone, on which is engraved the year of Masonry, he name and titles of the Grand Master, &c., &c.
The stone is raised up, by the means of an engine erected for that purpose, and the Grand Chaplain, or Orator, repeats a short prayer. The Grand Treasurer, 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 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.
"May the all-bounteous Author of Nature bless the inhabitants of this place with all the necessaries, conveniences and comforts of life; assist in the erection and completion of this building; protect the workmen against every accident, and long preserve this structure from decay; and grant to us all, a supply of the CORN of nourishment, the WINE of refreshment, and the OIL of joy."
"Amen! so mote it be! Amen!"
He then strikes the stone thrice with the mallet, and the public honors of masonry are given.
The Grand Master then delivers over to the Architect the various implements of architecture, entrusting 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 workmen, and the sum collected is placed upon the stone by the Grand Treasurer. The ceremony concludes with an appropriate ode. After which the procession returns to the place whence it set out, and the lodge is closed in due form.
On the day appointed for the celebration of the ceremony of Dedication, the Grand Master and his officers, accompanied by the members of the Grand Lodge meet in a convenient room, near to the place where the ceremony is be performed, and the Grand Lodge is opened in ample form, in the third degree of Masonry.
The Master of the Lodge to which the hall to be dedicated belongs, being present, rises and addresses the Grand Master as follows:
The Grand Master then directs the Grand Secretary to read the Order of Procession, which is delivered over to the Grand Marshal; and a general charge, respecting propriety of behavior, is given by the Deputy Grand Master; or the necessary directions are given to the brethren from the Chair.
A grand procession is then formed in the order laid down in the first section. The whole moves forward to the hall which is to be dedicated; and upon the arrival of the front of the procession at the door, they halt, open to the right and left and face inward, whilst the Grand Master, and others in succession, pass through and enter. The music continues while the procession marches three times around the hall.
The Lodge is placed in the centre. The Grand Master having taken the chair, under a canopy; the grand officers take the places of the corresponding officers of the lodge, and the Masters and Wardens of other lodges, repair to the places previously prepared for their reception. The three lights (in a triangular form), and the gold and silver pitchers, with the corn, wine and oil, are placed on the Lodge, at the head of which stands the pedestal, or altar, with the Bible open, and the Square and Compass fixed 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 replies as follows:
"BROTHER ARCHITECT: - The skill and fidelity displayed in the execution of the trust reposed in you, at the commencement of this undertaking, have secured the entire approbation of the Grand Lodge; and they sincerely pray, that this edifice lay continue a lasting monument of the taste. pirit, and liberality of its founders."
An ode in honor of Masonry is sung.
The Deputy Grand Master then rises and says:
Whereupon the Grand Master requests all to retire but such as are Master Masons. A procession is then formed in the following order, viz:
Grand Sword Bearer;
All the other brethren keep their places, and assist in performing an ode, which continues during ihe procession, excepting only at the intervals of dedication.
Music - "Migdol."
The Lodge being uncovered, and the first procesion being made around it, the Grand Master having reached the East, the Grand Junior Warden presents the pitcher of corn to the Grand Master, who, striking thrice with his mallet, pours it out apon the Lodge, at the same time pronouncing,
"In the name of the great JEHOVAH, to whom be all honor and glory, I do solemnly dedicate this hall to FREE-MASONRY."
The second procession is then made around the Lodge, and the Grand Senior Warden presents the pitcher of wine to the Grand Master, who sprinkles it upon the Lodge, at the same time saying,
"In the name of the Holy SAINTS JOHN, I do solemnly dedicate this hall to VIRTUE."
The grand honors are twice repeated.
The third procession is then made round the Lodge, and the Deputy Grand Master presents the pitcher of oil to the Grand Master, who, sprinkling it upon the Lodge, says,
"In the name of the whole FRATERNITY, I do solemnly dedicate this hall to UNIVERSAL BENEVOLENCE."
The grand honors are thrice repeated.
A solemn invocation is made to the Throne of Grace, by the Grand Chaplain.
After which the Lodge 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 again formed in procession, as at first, and returns to the room where it was opened, and is closed in ample form.
THE ceremonies which are observed on the occasion of funerals are highly appropriate they are performed as a melancholy Masonic duty, and as token of respect and affection to the memory of a departed brother. No mason can be interred with the formalities of the Order unless he has been advanced to the third degree. Fellow Crafts and Apprentices are not entitled to funeral obsequies. All the brethren who walk in procession, should observe, as much as possible, an uniformity in their dress; black clothes, with white gloves and aprons, are most suitable.
The brethren being assembled at the Lodge room, (or some other convenient place) the presiding officer opens the lodge in the third degree; and naving 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 cannot 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 return."
Master. - "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord!"
[The grand honors are then given, and the Master, taking the SACRED ROLL in his hand, says:]
"Let us die the death of the righteous, and let our last end be like his."
Response. - "God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death."
[The Master then records the name and age of the deceased upon the roll, and says:]
"Almighty Father! into thy hands we commend the soul of our departed brother."
[The brethren respond three times, giving the public grand honors each time: *) ]
"The will of God is accomplished. So mote it be!"
*) The public grand honors are given in the following manner: - Both arms are crossed on the breast, the left uppernost and the open palms of the hands sharply striking the shoulders; they are then raised above the head, the palias striking each other, and then made to fall smartly upon the thighs. - MACKEY.
[The Master then deposits the roll in the archives, and repeats the following or some other suitable prayer:]
Most merciful and glorious Lord God! our heavenly Father! 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; that after our departure hence in peace, we may be received into thine everlasting kingdom, and there enjoy, in union with our departed friends, the just reward of a pious and virtuous life. Amen.
Response. - So mote it be.
[A procession is then formed, which proceeds to the house of the deceased, and from thence to the place of interment. Should there be services at a church or at the house of the deceased, a brief responsive service should be used, concluding with the Lord's Prayer immediately after the benediction has been pronounced.
Tyler, with a drawn Sword;
When the procession arrives at the place of interment, the members of the lodge form a circle round the grave; the officers take their position at the head of the grave, on the right of the mourners. The following exhortation is then given:
NOTE. - If a past or present Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master, or Grand Warden, should join the procesion of a private lodge, proper attention is to be paid to them. They take place after the Master of the lodge. Two Deacons. with black rods are appointed by the Master to attend a Grand Warden; and when the Grand Master or Deputy Grand Master is present, the Book of Constitutions is bore before him, a Sword Bearer follows him, and the Deacons, with black reds, on his right and left.
MY BRETHREN: -
Again we are called to assemble among tbe habitations of the dead, to behold the "narrow house appointed for all living." Here, around us, in that peace which the world cannot give, sleep the unnumbered dead. The gentle breeze fans their verdant covering, they heed it not; the sunshine and the storm pass over them, and they are not disturbed; stones and lettered monuments symbolize the affection of surviving friends, yet no sound proceeds from them, save that silent but thrilling admonition, "seek ye the narrow path and the straight gate that lead unto eternal life."
We are again called upon to consider the uncertainty of human life the immutable certainty of death, and the vanity of all human pursuits. Decrepitude and decay are written upon every living thing. The cradle and the coffin stand side by side: and it is a melancholy truth, that so soon as we begin to live that moment also we begin to die. It is passing strange that notwithstanding the daily mementos of mortality that cross our path; notwithstanding the funeral bell so often tolls in our ears, and the "mournful procession" go about our streets, that we will not more seriously consider our approaching fate. We go on from design to design, add hope to hope, and lay out plans for the employment of many years, until we are suddenly alarmed at the approach of the Messenger of Death, at a moment when we least expect him, and which we probably conclude to be the meridian of our existence.
What, then, are all the externals of human dignity, the power of wealth, the dreams of ambition, the pride of intellect, or the charms of beauty, when Nature has paid her just debt? Fix your eyes on the last sad scene, and view life stript of its ornaments, and exposed in its natural meanness and you must be persuaded of the utter emptiness of these delusions. In the grave all fallacies are detected, all ranks are leveled, and all distinctions are done away.
While we drop the sympathetic tear over the grave of our deceased brother, let us east around his foibles, whatever they may have been, the broad mantle of masonic charity, nor withhold from his memory the commendation that his virtues claim at our hands. Perfection on earth has never yet been attained the wisest, as well as the best of men, have gone astray. Suffer, then, the apologies of human nature to plead for him who can no longer extenuate for himself.
Our present meeting and proceedings will have been vain and useless, if they fail to excite our serious reflections, and strengthen our resolutions of amendment. Be then persuaded, my brethren, by the uncertainty of human life, and the unsubstantial nature of all its pursuits, and no longer postpone the all-important concern of preparing for eternity. Let us each embrace the present moment, and while time and opportunity offer, prepare for that great change, when the pleasures of the world shall be as poison to our lips, and happy reflections of a well spent life afford the only consolation. Thus shall our hopes be not frustrated, nor we hurried unprepared into the presence of that all-wise and powerful Judge, to whom the secrets of every heart are known. Let us resolve to maintain with greater assiduity the dignified character of our profession. May our faith be evinced in a correct moral walk and deportment; may our hope be bright as the glorious mysteries that will be revealed hereafter; and our charity boundless as the wants of our fellow creatures. And having faithfully discharged the great duties which we owe to GOD, to our neighbor, and ourselves; when at last it shall please the Grand Master of the universe to summon us into his eternal presence, may the trestleboard of our whole lives pass such inspection that it may be given unto each of us to "eat of the hidden mnanna," and to receive the "white stone with a new name written," that will ensure perpetual and unspeakable happiness at his right hand.
The following invocations are then made: -
Master. - May we be true and faithful to each other, and may we live and die in love.
Response. - So mote it be.
Master. - May we profess what is good, and always act agreeably to our profession.
Response. - So mote it be.
Master.- May the Lord bless us and keep us. May the Lord be gracious unto us, and may all our good intentions be crowned with success.
Response. - So mote it be.
Master. - Glory be to God in the highest; on earth peace; good will towards men.
Response. - So mote it be, now, henceforth, and forever. Amen.
The apron is taken from the coffin, and handed to the Master; the coffin is deposited in the grave, and the service is then renewed.
Master. - Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God, in his wise providence, to take out of the world the soul of our deceased brother, we therefore commit his body to the ground - earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
The secretary then advances, and deposits the ROLL in the grave. (See foot-note, page 138.)
Master. - Friend and brother! We bid thee a last, a long FAREWELL! Thou art at rest from thy labors. May it be in peace.
Response. - So mote it be. Amen.
Then may be sung the Funeral Dirge. (See page 72.)
The Master then presenting the apron, continues -
"The lamb-skin or white apron is the emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason. It is more ancient than the golden fleece or Roman eagle; more honorable than the star and garter.
The Master then deposits it in the grave.
This emblem I now deposit in the grave of our deceased brother. By it we are reminded of the universal dominion of Death. The arm of Friendship cannot interpose to prevent his coming; the wealth of the world cannot purchase our release; nor will the innocence of youth, or the charms of beauty propitiate his purpose. The mattock, the coffin, and the melancholy grave, admonish us of our mortality, and that, sooner or later, these frail bodies must moulder in their parent dust.
The Master, holding the evergreen, continues -
This evergreen, which once marked the temporary resting place of the illustrious dead, is an emblem of our faith in the immortality of the soul. By this we are reminded of our high and glorious destiny beyond the "world of shadows," and that there dwells within our tabernacle of clay an immortal spirit, over which the grave has no dominion and death no power.
The brethren then move in procession round the place of interment, and severally drop the sprig of evergreen into the grave; after which, the public grand honors are given. *) The Master then continues the ceremony at the grave, in the following words:
*) In depositing the evergreen all the brethren should carefully observe the correct form, which is, by extending the right hand over the grave, dropping the evergreen; then raising the hand, pointing it to the zenith, bringing it down upon the left breast, and thence to the side, thereby signifying that we consign the body of our departed brother to the tomb, commend his spirit to Him who gave it, and that his memory is faithfully cherished within our hearts.- Cunningham.
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 request of our deceased brother, whose memory we revere, and whose loss we now deplore, we have assembled in the character of Masons, to offer up to his memory, before the world, the last tribute of our affection; thereby demonstrating the sincerity of our past esteem for him, and our steady attachment to the principles of the order.
The Great Creator, having been pleased, out of his infinite mercy, to remove our brother from the cares and troubles of this transitory existence, to a state of endless duration, thus severing another link from the fraternal chain that binds us together; may we, who survive him, be more strongly cemented in the ties of union and friendship; that, during the short space allotted us here, 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 have consigned the body of our deceased brother; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. We leave him in the hands of a Being who doeth all things well; who is glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders.
To those of his immediate relatives and friends, who are most heart-stricken at the loss we have all sustained, we have but little of this world's consolation to offer. We can only sincerely, deeply and most affectionately sympathize with them in their afflictive bereavement.*) [But in the beautiful spirit of the Christian's theology we dare to say, that HE, who "tempers the wind to the shorn lamb," looks down with infinite compassion upon the widow and fatherless, in the hour of their desolation; and that the same benevolent Saviour, who wept while on earth, will fold the arms of his love and protection around those who put their trust in HIM.]
*) The paragraph enclosed in brackets must be omitted if the deceased brother was a Jew. - ED.
The service is here concluded with the following, or some other suitable prayer:
ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father, as it has pleased thee to take from the light of our abode, one dear to our hearts, we beseech thee to bless and sanctify unto us this dispensation of thy Providence. Inspire our hearts with wisdom from on high, that we may glorify thee in all our ways. May we realize that thine All-seeing Eye is upon us, and be influenced by the spirit of truth and love to perfect obedience, - that we may enjoy the divine approbation here below. And when our toils on earth shall have ceased, may we be raised to the enjoyment of fadeless light and immortal life in that kingdom where faith and hope shall end - and love and joy prevail through eternal ages.
And thine, O righteous Father, shall be the glory forever. Amen.
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.
[What is Freemasonry] [Leadership
Development] [Education] [Masonic
This site is not an official site of any recognized Masonic body in the United
States or elsewhere.
Last modified: March 22, 2014