Knights of the Mystic Chain

Degree of Knighthood

This ritual was adopted by the Supreme Lodge in July 1900.

Opening Ceremony
COMMANDER: Sir Knights, I am about to open a Lodge of the Knights of the Mystic Chain, and I ask your co-operation. Vice-Commander, are the officers at their stations?
VICE-COMMANDER: They are, Commander.
COMMANDER: Marshal, you will take up the password and ascertain if all present are Sir Knights.
MARSHAL, after taking up password: They are, Commander.
COMMANDER: Marshal, what is the first duty of the assembled Sir Knights?
MARSHAL: To guard the Lodge, Commander.
COMMANDER: Instruct the Sentry that a Lodge of the Knights of the Mystic Chain is in session, and that only those qualified can enter here.
MARSHAL, after instructing Sentry: The Lodge is guarded, Commander.
Commander gives three taps to call up the Lodge.
COMMANDER: Officers and Knights, you will rise and give me the countersign; its answer which is the same. The Recognition Sign; its answer. The Sign of Distress; its answer. The Distress Word; its answer. The Sign of Warning; its answer. The Voting Sign. The Sign of the Degree of Knighthood; its answer. Face each other and give the hand grasp.
COMMANDER: Officers and Knights, I will thank you for your attention and assistance in conducting the business of this Lodge. Our Chaplain will invoke divine aid.
CHAPLAIN, ex tempore or otherwise:  Almighty Chief, we ask Thy aid,
To do the work that’s on us laid,
To earn the wage ere we are paid
For duty done.
We ask Thy help the sad to cheer,
Protect the helpless: loved so dear: 
From poverty and want and fear,
By duty done
To faithful work our hearts incline,
Our several powers and wills combine
In one fraternal battle line: 
Till victory’s won.
COMMANDER: I now declare ... Lodge, No. ..., of the Knights of the Mystic Chain of America, open. Illustrious Knights, I will thank you for your assistance in the preservation of order and decorum during the present convocation.
Commander gives one tap of gavel: Knights, be seated.
Officers to wear robes trimmed in gold and silver, and Turkish fezzes.
COMMANDER: Marshal, you will retire and report the names in waiting to be initiated in the Knighthood Degree of the Knights of the Mystic Chain.
MARSHAL salutes and retires; returns again, saying: Commander, I find Mr. ... ready to become a Sir Knight of this grand order.
COMMANDER: Recorder, has he been proposed and elected according to our prescribed rules?
RECORDER: He has, Commander.
COMMANDER: Has the required fee been received?
RECORDER: It has, Commander.
COMMANDER: I appoint Sir Knight ... to act with the Marshal as Aide for this occasion. Marshal, you will return to the ante-room and proceed to divest the candidate of all valuables in his possession, thoroughly searching, that nothing may escape you, and in doing so carefully drop this coin here Commander hands Marshal a coin into the breast pocket of his vest without his knowledge. You will then deliver the valuables to me at this station.
MARSHAL: I will obey your commands.
MARSHAL salutes Commander, retires to ante-room, requests the candidate to give up everything he has in his pockets, after which the Marshal inspects his pockets to see if everything is given up, and while searching in his inside vest pocket leaves therein the original coin. He does not leave him until thoroughly satisfied that he has all his money, and his vest has been rebuttoned, and after performing prescribed duties, works his way into Lodge and reports:  Commander, I have performed the duties entrusted to me.
COMMANDER: It is well. You will retire to the ante-room, conduct the candidate through the inner door. Aide, you will be in readiness to assist in receiving the candidate.
Marshal salutes Commander and retires, and when ready to enter gives rap at inner door. Aide thereupon takes position at inner door, and when Marshal and candidate enter the Aide assists in conducting candidate around the hall.
GUARD: Commander, there is an unusual alarm at the inner door.
COMMANDER: Ascertain the cause of the disturbance.
GUARD, opening wicket: Who comes here?
MARSHAL: A candidate seeking admission to the Knights of the Mystic Chain.
GUARD, leaving wicket open:  Commander, the Marshal has in charge a candidate who seeks admission into our grand order.
COMMANDER: Guard, you will admit him.
Marshal and Aide march candidate around the lodge room and stop, facing commander.
MARSHAL: Vice-Commander, this candidate, long anxious to receive the benefits of the Knights of the Mystic Chain, begs to be allowed to know the full benefits of the order, and to learn its mysteries.
VICE-COMMANDER: Has he the necessary qualifications? Is he straight of limb and sound of body, and able to undergo our trials and temptations?
GUIDE: He has the necessary qualifications.
VICE-COMMANDER: Candidate, do you declare upon your honor that you will conform to the laws, rules and usages of the Knights of the Mystic Chain?
VICE-COMMANDER: Then listen, my friend, and heed the words of advice and admonition I am about to give. Help thyself and God will help thee. Self-help is the basis of true independence and just pride of character. Only those who honestly and earnestly exert their utmost energies to succeed in life, and who eagerly embrace every opportunity for improving their condition and enhancing the comfort and happiness of those dependent upon them, can be accounted worthy members of this order, or can expect from it sympathy and assistance in the hour of need. The principal object, and most distinctive characteristic, of our order is the cultivation and exhibition of a sentiment of mutual help and assistance; but the order aims to bestow its benevolences only upon worthy and deserving members.
Let me admonish you not to complain of the hardships which may attend your struggles, nor to be unduly depressed at the disappointments you may encounter. Realize that life’s battle is real; that in your individual case all depends upon acting your part properly:
“Honor and shame from no condition rise,
Act well your part, there all the honor lies.”
Let a sensitive regard for your word and your obligations be the touchstone of your actions; and observe an inviolate fidelity to every duty, however humble or insignificant it may seem. It was the shepherd boy David who, faithful to his flock, was called to be the King of Israel, and his example may well inspire in you the expectation that, if you make him the model of your life and conduct, you will attain to a position of honor and esteem among your fellow-citizens.
Marshal takes candidate to the altar, placing him in proper attitude for obligation, facing the Chaplain. The Chaplain, Past-Commander, Commander, Vice-Commander and all Sir Knights assemble around the altar to witness the obligation. At this point the Commander should name some Knight to personate a beggar. He will post himself at once as to his duties, retire to the ante-room, clothe himself in a dilapidated hat, wig, beard, and ragged suit of clothes, with staff and tin cup in hand, and enter hall as soon as the Chaplain finishes the charge.
CHAPLAIN: My friend, you have heard the benefits of the Knights of the Mystic Chain. Are you willing to conform to our laws, rules and usages, and to make your vows and take your obligations?
Commander calls up Lodge by three taps.
CHAPLAIN, after advancing to the altar: Place your right hand over your heart and your left on the Bible. Say: I, pronounce your name in full, do solemnly promise, in the presence of these witnessing Knights, that I will never divulge the secrets of this order to any one, unless he be a true and lawful Knight. I further promise that I will obey all orders of this Lodge and of its regularly constituted officers, and all orders of the Grand Lodge, and of the Supreme Lodge. I do further solemnly promise that I will never reveal the signs, pass-words or hand-grasps, or any of the secret work of this order; and that I will endeavor, to the best of my ability, to advance the interests of the Knights of the Mystic Chain; to attend its meetings when practicable, and to help my brother Knights, or members of their families, whenever an opportunity presents itself to which I may be able to respond. I also promise that I will punctually pay all dues and monthly contributions of the Lodge, the Grand Lodge, or the Supreme Lodge, which may be legally required of me, for the discharge of current expenses and beneficiary obligations. And I solemnly affirm that I will to the best of my ability live up to the teachings and precepts of the order. And should I violate this, my explicit and solemn pledge, I hereby consent to be expelled from this order, and to incur the obloquy and shame of my disgraceful conduct; and may Almighty God enable me to keep and perform all of the obligations which I have assumed.
After the candidate has repeated the obligation, the Chaplain most solemnly re-read it, In order to doubly impress its importance upon the candidate’s mind, and get his renewed assent thereto. Do not allow the candidate to repeat at second reading, but the Chaplain’s remarks should be prefaced by saying that, as Chaplain of the Lodge, he is required to re-read this to the Candidate in order that he may thoroughly understand his obligation, which binds the members of this fraternity to one another.
CHAPLAIN: Let your every action be so open and straightforward that it will not be in the power of calumny, however cunningly contrived, to tarnish your reputation or impair your standing with your fellow-men. Be ever mindful of the rights, and considerate of the feelings, of others, and look with leniency upon their shortcomings. “Be to their faults a little blind, and to their virtues very kind.” Be tender, be just, be generous, be merciful; be slow to anger and quick to forgive. These are the lessons inculcated by our order; live up to them, and you will find that in every sphere of life, and every vicissitude of fortune, they will defend you from evil, and promote your temporal and eternal felicity. Marshal, take the candidate to the Vice-Commander; he may have a word to say to him.
At beginning of march a beggar, knocking on the door, is beard, and should be announced.
GUARD: Commander, a worthy Knight, who has been set upon by highwaymen, badly wounded, and robbed of all he had, seeks admission, that he may ask aid from his brother members.
COMMANDER: Admit him.
BEGGAR, entering: Good sirs and brothers, I pray you, help the unfortunate and needy this in a loud voice.
Beggar, making noise with stick as if he were a lame man, presents tin cup to the members, who drop coin, etc., with a rattle into the cup, and stops in front of candidate, to whom he says:
BEGGAR: Kind stranger, give me a penny.
VICE-COMMANDER, after a pause, to candidate:  Are you not going to give this poor man something? Will you pass him by after the obligation you have taken and the instructions you have received? This order, though it gives benefits, also teaches Charity. Give to the needy; help the blind and feed the poor. Have you no money about you? Answers No, prompted by Aide. Search your pocket. Searches. Have none, you say? Did you search carefully? Yes, prompted by Aide. Aide, you search candidates’ pockets. Aide finds the money. So you had money, but refused to give. Hand it to the poor man. It is always your duty to extend the hand of Charity. Hands coin to blind man, who passes out. I hardly know what to think of you. You must have known that the money was there. Knights, shall we forgive him, or shall he be punished as such conduct merits?
COMMANDER, solemnly: Fellow-officers and esteemed Knights, this candidate has wittingly or unintentionally committed a very grave offence; after having been solemnly admonished to respond to the calls of Charity, he has proven recreaut by turning a deaf ear to the poor and needy; and to make his offence the greater, he has attempted to deceive not only this poor beggar, but the members of this Lodge also. The fact that within the last quarter of an hour he has violated the most solemn obligation necessarily puts us upon our guard with reference to his further advancement in our order, in which we teach, by precept and example, Kindness, Mercy and Charity. I am reluctant to believe that this candidate with deliberate intent violated his obligation, but as we practice, above all other things, Charity, we must be charitable in our construction of his conduct until the charges are proven either false or true. He either did not realize where he was, or did not comprehend the lamentable condition of the poor beggar. It would seem that he must have forgotten the obligation just taken, or did not possess the will power to execute his convictions of duty. We are his friends, but it must be indelibly impressed upon him that if he does not realize at all times where he is, he is liable to speak of the mysteries of our order in the presence of strangers who have not earned the right to hear them. If his vision is deficient he would be unable to see a brother Knight in distress; if his hearing is imperfect he cannot hear the cries of distress; if his memory be not good we cannot depend upon him to keep inviolate the secrets of this fraternity; and if he does not possess the will power to execute his convictions of duty all of hits strength will be powerless to do justice to the principles of our order by responding to the necessities of the destitute and needy. Brother officers here assembled, you will kindly meet me at the altar and devise the punishment to be meted out to this candidate.
Here Commander, Past, Vice and Chaplain assemble at the altar, and after discussing the matter in an informal way, the Chaplain declares the verdict as hereinafter stated:
CHAPLAIN, all remaining at the altar: This man is manifestly deficient in something. He is lacking in some of the attributes of head or heart. This is the most charitable construction, for we should else be obliged to attribute his conduct to the despicable vice of avarice. If we could in any way ascertain what the deficiency is, it might be possible to supply the defect, in part at least, or else, to some extent, counteract the malign consequences of the dereliction, The case seems to justify a resort to the supernatural assistance of the Mystic Bowl. There is a cabalistic charm in the waters of that mysterious font which is able to render up the secret we desire. Shall this recusant candidate be required to search into the depths of the Mystic Bowl for a revelation of the attributes in which he is deficient? What say you?
MEMBERS, all speaking at same time: Let him be taken to the Mystic Bowl.
COMMANDER: Friend, the members of this Lodge demand that you shall inquire of the Mystic Bowl for a revelation of the traits in which you appear to be deficient, and without which it is not possible to fulfill the character of the perfect Knight. Are you willing to learn wherein your greatest lack doth lie?
CANDIDATE, prompted by Aide: I am.
The Mystic Bowl consists of a basin of water placed upon a small table or stand, and charged with electricity. In front of the table or stand is spread a metallic mat, such as is usually placed under a stove. A battery should be concealed behind a screen, two wires from the battery secretly connecting, the one with the Mystic Bowl and the other with the mat. As the candidate stands upon the mat and dips his hands into the water the circuit is completed and the shock imparted to the candidate, in the bottom of the basin there is placed a metallic plate, on which are imprinted the words: “Practice in all thy dealings Kindness, Mercy, Charity.” These preparations being ready, a brief intermission may be bad to enable the members to gather around to witness the ceremony The candidate is now conducted o the Bowl, his shoes having been removed, and care being taken that he stands upon the mat.
COMMANDER: Candidate, you have given your assent to a most solemn rite. Nothing short of supernatural power possessed by this Bowl could enable it to reveal traits of your character that are hidden from the scrutiny of your closest friends, and perhaps unsuspected by yourself. You are about, therefore, to come into contact with one of the most awful and mysterious auguries of nature, so to speak; and you should approach it with the reverence of the man of God who, on ascending the Sacred Mount, was commanded to remove his shoes, “for,” as the divine voice proclaimed, “the place whereon thou standest is sacred ground.” The Marshal will now remove your shoes.
This being done, the Marshal conducts the candidate to the Mystic Bowl.
COMMANDER: Candidate, having removed your shoes, in token of reverence, you will wash your hands as a symbol of the cleanliness and purification with which you should approach the mysterious ceremony.
The candidate now dips his hands into the Bowl, and is surprised by receiving an electric shock. The suddenness with which he will withdraw and the look of astonishment upon his face will be positively ludicrous.
COMMANDER: Stretch forth thy hand and delve to the bottom of the Mystic Bowl. Perchance you may there find some record, or intelligible clue to the attributes in which you are deficient; and rest assured there will be revealed only what is for thy good.
The candidate, who is probably unsuccessful in his first attempts, finally succeeds in plunging his hand to the bottom of the Bowl, and draws out the tin or copper plate. The amount of electricity can be increased or diminished an ordinary battery, as may be necessary.
CHAPLAIN, after candidate has drawn forth the plate: What is the motto which you find mysteriously inscribed upon the plate?
CANDIDATE, reads aloud the inscription: “Practice in all thy dealings, Kindness, Mercy, Charity.”
CHAPLAIN: You have now, through the supernatural efficacy of the Mystic Bowl, been apprised of the natural defects in your character, namely, Kindness, Mercy, Charity. These are the cardinal virtues of this order, and the solemn vow you have taken imposes upon you an obligation to religiously observe and practice them in the future; and may the Supreme Searcher of Hearts enable you to perform this vow, and discharge this is obligation.
Officers will now assume their stations, and members return to their seats. Marshal conducts candidate to Past-Commander and seats him.
PAST-COMMANDER, attired in a bearded wig, wearing Turkish fez and robe: Thrice welcome, my friend. The scene you have just witnessed and in which you have taken a part was not intended to be an occasion of amusement, but a device by which we have wisely chosen to impart to you certain lessons which inculcate the cardinal principles of our fraternity, and your relation thereto. The harmless deception practiced upon you by placing the coin in your pocket, and the results following its discovery, were intended to impress upon your mind the importance of being ever straightforward in your dealings with your fellow man, and of ever bearing in mind, and putting into practice, the beautiful and heaven-sanctioned trait of one of the mottoes of our order and of this degree, Charity. Live up to this motto and you will always be a worthy member of society and will command the respect and confidence of all. The object of the Knights of the Mystic Chain is, in a spirit of charity, to give moral and material aid to each other; to provide for the intelligent enjoyment of its members; to give attention and relief to the sick, and to assist those out of employment to obtain positions; to encourage each other in business; to create a fund for the relief of the members in case of accidents, and make a suitable provision for their wives and little ones when deprived by death of their natural protector, and to advance the common interests of humanity by mutual charity and protection. The results sought to be accomplished are only such as are prompted by the purest motives and the most disinterested benevolence, and tend to develop only such qualities as are characteristic of an advanced civilization. I commend you for the advance you have made in our progressive order. Let your inspiring principle of action be to “look up, not down; to look forward, not backward.”
Let the dead past bury its dead. The field of present endeavor is the inviting domain of opportunities which extend their solicitations to you with the enchantment of a siren’s song. Have you the heart and the hardihood to avail yourself of the precious opportunity? Much depends upon the answer which you can give to this inquiry. The prizes of life are won, not by dreamy longings, or inane aspirations; but by resolute purpose, steady pursuit, stout heart, indomitable will, and unceasing endeavor. These are the sterner virtues; but the softer qualities of the heart must exercise their appropriate part. Kindness, Mercy and Charity are our cardinal virtues. They all abide in their proper spheres, but the greatest of them all is Charity. Charity, or love, is like the ladder on which the beloved Apostle, in the Island of Patmos, was enabled to mount, and gain a glimpse of the celestial world. Universal in its sway, and eternal in its duration, is the influence of this principle of love.
“In peace, Love tunes the shepherd’s reed;
In war, he mounts the warriors steed;
In halls, in gay attire is seen;
In hamlets, dances on the green.
Love rules the court, the camp, the grove,
And men below, and saints above,
For love is heaven, and heaven is love.”
By kindness we mean the warm sympathy and generous philanthropy which prompts us to acts of friendship and benevolence. By mercy we mean the heaven-instilled principle which melts the heart in the presence of anguish and distress.
“The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.”
All that is great and good in this world partakes of the attributes of clemency and mercy. Carry this lesson with you through life, and you will possess the priceless charm that assuages the sorrows and mitigates the calamities of envious fortune, and even relentless fate, and which in your declining days will soothe the pillow of pain and strew with flowers the pathway to the tomb.
Marshal, you will now conduct the candidate to our Commander, who will instruct him in the secret work of the order.
Marshal takes candidate to Commander.
COMMANDER: The liberal and enlightened principles upon which this order is founded should commend themselves to your earnest consideration. Our order does not tolerate vice, in either its open and repulsive forms, or the insinuating disguises under which it makes its most seductive appeals. Our first lesson is Kindness: a due consideration of the privileges and rights and needs and wants of our brothers. Who is the true brother? The parable of the Good Samaritan teaches us that most beautiful lesson. Kindness is our first lesson; our second is that heaven-born quality, Mercy, which is ever ready to stoop to the assistance of the lowliest, to all who are in trouble or distress.
“Teach me to feel another’s woe
To hide the fault I see;
That mercy I to others show
That mercy show to me.”
In conclusion, ever bear in mind that your conduct will affect the world for good or evil. The crown and glory of life is character. It is the noblest possession of man. It exercises a greater power than wealth, and secures all the honors without the jealousies of fame. Character is human nature in its best form. When seasoned with Charity it partakes of the divine, and becomes immortal. Charity, like the sun, brightens every object upon which it shines.
Let me impress upon your mind the importance of being ever straightforward in your dealings with your fellow-man and of ever bearing in mind and putting into practice the beautiful and heaven-sanctioned trait, which is the third motto of this order, Charity. Live up to this motto and you will always be a worthy member of society and will command the respect and confidence of all. In this one word is embodied well-nigh all the virtues, and no one can do his duty in life without exercising it. “For, though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing; and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
I will now instruct you in the secret work of this degree, in which all business of the order is transacted.
In order to gain admission to a Lodge of the Knights of the Mystic Chain, you will approach the ante-room door, attract the attention of the Sentry, who will raise the wicket and say, “Who comes here?” You will reply, “A Knight of the Mystic Chain.” The Sentry will respond, “Approach, Sir K night, and give the password,” which you will do, when you will be admitted to the ante-room.
After properly attiring yourself (with a metal badge of the order, if any have been provided), you will approach the Lodge room door, answered by the Guard, upon which the Guard will raise the wicket and ask, “Who comes here?” You will give him in a whisper your name, and the name and number of your Lodge. The wicket will then be closed and Guard reports to Vice-Commander, who, if it be correct, will order him to receive the pass-word and admit you. The Guard will then raise the wicket. The door is then opened and you pass to the altar, saluting the Commander with the countersign, which I will now explain, with its significance.
The Commander will answer by same sign, after which you face about and salute the Vice-Commander with the sign of the Degree of Knighthood, thus: ...; he will answer by same sign; then you may take your seat. This sign is given by all Sir Knights on leaving or entering the Lodge room, while the Lodge is in session, and by all Knights when the Lodge is opened in the degree of Knighthood.
COMMANDER: Friend, you will now go to the Recorder and in his presence sign the order’s Book of Fidelity; this done, you will return to this station. Marshal, take the candidate to the Recorder, that he may sign the Book of Fidelity.
The Recorder must read the obligation to candidate, who, after signing, is taken before the Commander.
Kneel on your right knee, my friend.
Commander, laying sword on candidate’s shoulder.
I pronounce thee a Knight of the Mystic Chain. Arise, Sir Knight extending his hand, that I may greet thee with the hand-grasp of the Knights of the Mystic Chain.
Commander here explains the grip.
COMMANDER: The Lodge will now take a recess to welcome our new Sir Knight.
Closing Ceremonies
COMMANDER, one rap:  Esteemed Knights, there being no further business before the Lodge, we will proceed to close. Let us return thanks for the good accomplished.
Three raps to call up the Lodge.
CHAPLAIN, tune: Troyte No. 1.:
Our thanks receive, Almighty Chief,
For present good, and grant relief
To all in sorrow or in grief,
Till next we meet.
And, as life’s battle must be fought,
And face to duty all are brought,
Give strength to fight it as we ought,
Till next we meet.
Life’s battle fought, the victory won,
Our earthly work forever done,
To Heaven’s roll transfer each one: 
May all there meet.
COMMANDER: Marshal, take up the Rituals and deliver them at this station.
Marshal collects and delivers Rituals. The Lodge cannot be closed until the Rituals are in possession of Commander or accounted for.
COMMANDER: Attention, Sir Knights.
PAST COMMANDER: We thank you for your presence tonight, and cordially invite your attendance at our future meetings.
The Knights face the Commander and give the sign of the Degree of Knighthood.
COMMANDER: Esteemed Knights, by virtue of the power vested in me, I now declare ... Lodge, No. ... duly closed. One rap.