The Grand Court of the Masonic Order of Athelstan
in England, Wales and its Provinces Overseas
Instruction of a Candidate
Recommendations for a Court of Athelstan
NOT be used, but smaller low backed replacements substituted.
The Court should be laid out as per the diagram included in the Ritual.
The Wardens chairs should be just in front of the Worshipful Master and placed in a
Wardens chairs normally used in the temple are large or have high backs they should
The Rosetta Stone should be placed on a suitable stand on an appropriate small table or pedestal in the South of the temple and covered with a cloth or veil. The Junior Wardens chair if not in use by the JW should be placed away from its normal location, so it does not detract from the focus on the Rosetta Stone.
The Hourglass is a standard item of furniture in the Court. It should stand on an appropriate small table or pedestal in the West of the temple. The Senior Wardens chair (if not in use by the SW) should be placed away from its normal location so it does not detract from the focus on the Hourglass.
The 2 framed visual aids should have standardised, professionally produced graphic representations of the Emblems of a Court Master Mason. A recommended size is A3. These visual aids should be on display at all times in front of the Wardens pedestals and under no circumstances should they be turned in the manner of a tracing board.
It should be emphasised that the appropriate Volume of the Sacred Law be used which is stated to be the Old Testament.
If double ceremonies are undertaken it is the responsibility of the Marshal of the Court to see that appropriate variations are made to the ritual to ensure that each candidate gets the maximum benefit from the experience.
The Grand Marshal, with the assistance of the Provincial Marshals should ensure that all signs in the Order are consistent and in compliance with the instructions laid down in the ritual. Local variations should be completely eliminated.
The Brethren assemble in the Court to await the entry of the Master & his Wardens. The Marshal positions himself by the entrance to the Court
Mar: Brethren, our Master approaches this Court. Be upstanding to greet him.
The Master and Wardens enter the Court; the Master at the head of the procession, immediately followed by the Wardens, SW on the left, JW on the right. They each go directly to their seats and remain standing facing East. An opening ode may be sung here., if it is the Court’s custom.
WM: Brethren, assist me to call this Court to session.
WM to JW: Brother … What is your first duty?
JW: To see that the Court is duly sealed.
WM: Direct that duty to be done.
JW to CoG: Brother …, see that the Court is duly sealed.
CoG, standing on the edge of the carpet, gives a Court Bow to the Master, turns, goes to the door, and gives one knock, answered by the Guard. He returns to the carpet edge and informs the JW: The Court is duly sealed.
JW, knocks once, to the WM (no name): The Court is duly sealed.
WM to the SW: Brother …, the next duty?
SW: To see that the brethren appear to order as Master Masons of the Court.
WM: To order brethren, as Master Masons of the Court. Done.
WM: Brother JW, how many principal officers are there in the Court?
JW: Four, the WM, EP, S & JW.
WM: Brother SW, how many assistant officers are there?
SW: Four, the S & JD, the CoG and the Guard.
WM to JW: The situation of the SD?
JW: To the right of the SW.
WM: His duty?
JW: To carry all messages of the WM to the SW and see that the same are punctually obeyed. Likewise to assist the JD during the ceremony of instruction
WM to SW: The situation of the JD?
SW: To the left of the JW.
WM: His duty?
SW: To bear all my messages to the JW and await the return of the SD, likewise to assist the SD during the ceremony of instruction.
WM to JW: The situation of the CoG?
JW: Within the entrance to the Court.
WM: His duty?
JW: To admit candidates in due form and obey the commands of the JW.
WM to SW: The situation of the Guard?
SW: Outside the door of the Court.
WM: His duty?
SW: Being armed with a drawn sword and the Book of Constitutions, being ever guarded in his thoughts, words and actions, particularly when before the enemies of Freemasonry; ever bearing in remembrance those truly Masonic virtues, silence and circumspection. And further to see that the candidates are properly prepared.
WM: Brother JW, your situation in the Court?
JW: To the left of the WM
WM: Why are you placed there?
JW: To represent the sun at its meridian, call the brethren from labour to refreshment and refreshment to labour, that profit and pleasure may be the result.
WM: Brother SW, your situation in the Court?
SW: To the right of the WM
WM: Why are you placed there?
SW: To represent the setting sun and to close the Court by command of the WM, having seen that every brother has had his due.
WM: Eminent Prior, your situation in the Court?
EP: Further to the east of the WM
WM: Why are you placed there?
EP: To represent our links with the Holy Land, where so many gave the ultimate sacrifice in defence of their Faith. Likewise to bring a spiritual blessing to all our works within the Court and to embrace all Faiths irrespective of Race or Culture that have a belief in a Supreme Being.
WM: W Brother IPM, the Master’s place?
IPM: The East, within the cold light of Venus. Worshipful Master.
WM: Why is he placed there?
IPM: As the sun rises in the East to open and enliven the day, so the WM is placed in the East, to open the Court and to employ and instruct the brethren in Freemasonry.
WM: Then brethren the Court being duly formed, before I declare it open.
EP or WM: Let us invoke a blessing from the Supreme Being on all our undertakings that our work be conducted in peace and closed in harmony.
WM: I, in the name of the Supreme Being, now declare this Court to be in session for the purpose of communicating light to those who seek it.
WM gavels ** **, repeated by SW, JW, CoG, Guard. The sign is discharged after the WM’s 4th knock. The WM then opens the Old Testament at Proverbs C III, v XIII and positions S&C in 3°, the JD unveils the Rosetta Stone.
WM: A copy of the Rosetta Stone is now displayed in the South of the Court. First erected in c. 195 B.C. in honour of Ptolemy Vth Epiphanes (205—180 B.C.), it is of black basalt bearing an inscription in Egyptian Hieroglyphics, Demotic (the popular and simplified form of the Ancient Egyptian Script) and Greek. It was the key to deciphering important historical texts and hieroglyphics and gives us the opportunity to understand the Wisdom of the Ancients. It was discovered in 1799 by Boussard, a French officer of engineers in an excavation made at Fort St. Julien, near Rosetta, in the Nile Delta, during Napoleons Egyptian campaign (1798-1801) It was translated by a French scholar (Champollion) in the years following 1820 and now can be viewed in the British Museum.
The Guard gives the knocks of a MM; the CoG gives full penal sign.
CoG to the JW: Bro Junior Warden there is a report.
JW: Enquire who wants admission.
CoG opens door and says to Guard: Whom have you there?
Grd: Bro. …, who having been summoned to this assembly of Master Masons now requests admission.
CoG: On what does he hope to gain admission?
Grd: The five points of fellowship and with the words of a Master Mason.
CoG: Is he in possession of those secrets?
Grd: He is, try him and prove him. Candidate is proven.
CoG: Wait while I report to the WM. Closes door, goes to the edge of carpet and salutes the WM: WM, Bro. …, having been summoned to this assembly of Master Masons, is now outside the door and requests admission.
WM: On what does he hope to gain admission to this assembly?
CoG: The five points of Fellowship and with the words of a Master Mason.
WM: Is he in possession of those secrets?
CoG: He is WM, I have tried him and proved him.
WM: Then let him be admitted in due form — Brother Junior Deacon
JD, after placing kneeling stool in position, goes to door, which is opened by the CoG. The Candidate is admitted and stands on the edge of the carpet in the West – JD on the Candidate’s right.
WM: Brother … Welcome to this Assembly of Master Masons. You have gained admission on the Five Points of Fellowship and with the words of a Master Mason. However before I can entrust you with the Ancient Charges of our Order, it is first necessary for you to give me further proofs of your rank and worthiness to receive them. You will therefore advance to me as a Master Mason, first as an Entered Apprentice showing the frill signs and words of each degree.
Candidate responds with the sign & words.
WM: Brother …,whilst I acknowledge you as a Master Mason of our Order, it is clear from the manner in which you have executed those signs that you are in need of further instruction, before you can continue to preside over other Masons. For as a Master of a Lodge, it is your duty to Employ and Instruct die Brethren in Freemasonry But you will first kneel on both knees, whilst a Blessing is invoked in aid of our proceedings.
To order Brethren.
WM (or EP): Supreme Being and creator of all things, we implore Thee to send down Thy divine blessing on this assembly and pray that the candidate who now kneels before Thee is imbued with the continuance of Thy spiritual guidance and the wisdom of Enoch, that he may one day, ascend beyond this earthly plane and pass through the cold light of Venus to everlasting life.
All: So Mote it Be. Discharge SoP.
WM: The candidate will rise. Brother JD, you will direct the candidate to the SE corner of the Court, and we will first remind him of his duties as a MM. Be seated Brethren.
All sit. JD removes the kneeling stool and conducts the candidate from the North and directs him to the SE corner of the Court just past the WM’s pedestal.
WM: Brother …, It must be very gratifying for you to know that you are a Master Mason and that you have sealed your allegiance to one of the Grandest and Noblest of Fraternities in existence, one that encircles the globe and whose influence for good is never-ending.
Your particular reasons for becoming a member of this Grand and Noble Order are known only to yourself. It may have been the prompting of idle curiosity or it may have been for material reasons; that being true, be at once undeceived for Freemasonry offers no pecuniary benefits to any of its Initiates.
It may have been the result of social aspirations; that being true, you are now afforded the opportunity to acquaint yourself with many intelligent Brethren, whose acquaintance might be of some benefit to you.
It may be that your father was a Mason and expressed a desire for you to follow in his footsteps. That being true, it is not only an honour to the Fraternity, but to yourself as well.
With emphasis: But be the reason what it may, this question confronts you: Are you worth anything or nothing to Freemasonry and is Freemasonry worth anything or nothing to you? Pause.
The question is for you, and you alone, my Brother to answer in your heart; for if you apply to your own life the teachings inculcated in the Three Degrees, you will not only become a better citizen, but also a better father, a better son and a fonder husband, and I call upon some of our Brethren to further explain this:
JD conducts the Candidate to the JW’s pedestal. JW stands and recites – Not to be read!
In a Mason’s Lodge, with darkened eyes
And cable tow about you,
You swore to guard all mysteries
That Masons’ keep and prize,
The Brother’s secret, whispered low,
The words they speak, the things they do,
In mystic manner taught to you.
On yonder Book that Oath you took; Indicates VSL
And you should break it never:
But stand by this, Takes E.A. step
And this, Makes E.A. sign
AND THIS. Cuts the E.A. sign.
Forever, and forever.
JD conducts Candidate to the SW’s pedestal. SW stands and recites – Not to be read!
You swore to answer and obey
The Summons sent you duly
By Brother’s hand or Lodge away.
You swore that you would never stray
From ancient laws and rules that bind
All Masons in the Craft,
But would observe them truly.
On yonder Book that Oath you took
And you should break it never:
But stand by this, Takes F.C. step
And this, Makes F.C. sign
AND THIS. Cuts the F.C. sign
Forever, and forever.
JD sits, the SD conducts the Candidate to the WM who stand and recites – Not to be read!
You swore with generous gifts to care
For those in sorrow stricken,
The Brother on the darkened Square,
The mourner with dishevelled hair
The orphan doomed - alas - to stray
Down Life’s cold path and cheerless way.
Upon this Book that Oath you took
And you should break it never
But stand by this, Takes M.M. step
And this, Makes M.M. sign
AND THIS. Cuts the M.M. sign.
Forever, and Forever.
SD takes over and instructs the Candidate to make half turn to the IPM or EP who stands and recites – Not to be read!
You swore with honesty to deal
With each true heart around you;
That “Honour bright” should ever be
The unbroken bond twixt him and thee;
No wrong, nor guile, nor cruel fraud
Should ever break the Holy Cord
With which that Vow hath bound you.
You swore the Chastity to keep
Of women, true and tender;
A Mason’s widow, wife or child,
His Mother, Sister - undefiled
Those pure in heart
Whose love adorns a Mason’s home
Of which you are the guardian, sworn.
On yonder Book that Oath you took
And you should break it never:
But stand by it, forever.
Marshal instructs Brethren to stand with the sign of Fidelity, SD takes over and instructs Candidate to make a half turn towards the GO (or the WM) who stands and recites – Not to be read!
These are our vows, our daily cares
And may such light be given
In answer to our earnest prayers
To God, that we may do or dare
All that His Sacred Law enjoins;
So when the evening shades pass o’er us
We may be found in Heaven, glorious.
For on this Book that Oath we took
And we should break it never
But stand by this, Indicates VSL
And this, Indicates Square
And this. Indicates Compasses
Forever, and forever
SD places Candidate in front of WM’s pedestal.
WM: Brother …, you are now about to take an obligation, in many ways similar to those you have taken in the former degrees. Are you prepared to meet it as you ought?
Can: I am. Prompted by SD if required.
WM: Then you will kneel on both knees, place both hands on the Old Testament, state your names at length and repeat after me: Knocks once – repeated by SW and JW, All rise. I full name, in the name of the Supreme Being and creator of all things, and in the presence of this regular session and assembly of Court Master Masons, of my own free will and accord, do hereby and hereon solemnly promise and swear, that I will never divulge the secrets of a Court Master Mason, to anyone in the world not lawfully entitled thereto. I further solemnly pledge myself to maintain and uphold I further solemnly pledge myself to maintain and uphold the honour and dignity of the Order, and the high character and usefulness of this Court in both my civil and private callings.
That I will pay due allegiance to the Sovereignty of the Grand Master of the Order and the Statutes of the Grand Court of the Masonic Order of Athelstan for England, Wales and its Provinces Overseas.
Lastly I swear to pay due respect to the Head of State and pay due obedience to the statutes of the country in which I do now, or may in the future reside. So help me the Supreme Being and creator of all things in this, my solemn obligation as a Court Master Mason.
You will seal that obligation twice and then twice further with sour lips on the Old Testament. Candidate kisses the Old Testament.
WM: Rise, duly obligated, Court Master Mason.
Mar: Brethren be seated
WM: Having taken the solemn obligation of this degree. I will now proceed to instruct you with its secrets The SD and Candidate step back four paces from the WM.
WM: In this order, the full signs of the degrees of Craft Freemasonry are adopted. You will therefore take a short step with your left foot, bringing your right heel into its hollow.
This is the first regular step in Freemasonry and it is in this position that the sign of an Entered Apprentice should be given.
Place your hands in this position, right above left, thumbs extended in the form of a square, as if holding the open VSL between your palms. The full sign is given from this due guard, by dropping the left hand to the side, raising the right hand thumb extended in the form of a square to the left of the windpipe, drawing it smartly across, dropping it to the side and recovering to the due guard thus.
JW, stands: You are well aware of the words of this degree, and the usage of the twenty-four inch gauge, the common gavel and the chisel. Likewise the three immovable and the three movable jewels. I will now explain the signification of a point within a circle.
Lodges were anciently dedicated to King Solomon, but Masons professing Christianity, dedicated theirs to St John the Baptist and St John the Evangelist, who were two eminent patrons of Freemasonry; and since their time, there is represented in every regular and well governed Lodge a certain point within a circle, the point representing an individual brother, the circle the boundary line of his conduct to God and man, beyond which he is never to suffer his passions, prejudices or interest to betray him on any occasion. This circle is embordered by two perpendicular parallel lines, representing those saints who were perfect parallels in Christianity, as well as in masonry; and on the vertex rests the Holy Scriptures, which point out the whole duty of man. In going around this circle we necessarily touch upon the Holy Scriptures and while a Mason keeps himself thus circumscribed, it is impossible that he should err.
WM: You will now take another short pace towards me with your left foot, bringing your right heel into its hollow as before. This is the second regular step in Freemasonry and it is from this position that the sign is given. Stand to order thus, again with the due guard. WM demonstrates & the Candidate copies.
The full signs are given by placing the right hand on the left breast with the thumb extended in the form of a square, elevating the left hand, palm to the front, with the thumb likewise in the form of a square. The sign is discharged by dropping the left hand to the side, drawing the right hand smartly across the chest, dropping to the side, and recovering to the due guard. WM demonstrates & the Candidate copies.
Again, you are well acquainted with the working toots of this degree. You will therefore advance to me once again with your left foot, bringing your right foot into its hollow as before. This is the third regular step in Freemasonry and it is in this position that the full signs of the degree are given.
Stand to order thus. WM demonstrates the due guard. It is also from this position that the penal sign of a MM is given, by dropping the left hand to the side, drawing the right hand smartly across the body, dropping it to the side and recovering on the centre, before finally discharging it.
This penal sign should always be given in full when addressing the WM or upon entering or leaving the Court, the due guard sign when addressing the WM and the penal sign to discharge it when finishing.
The Grip or Token of this degree is given by a distinct pressure with the thumb on the fourth knuckle joint of a brother’s right hand. This grip demands a word, a word to be treated with the same strict caution as the other secrets in Freemasonry. For your instruction I will give you that word, it is Chokmah It is spelled C H O K M A H and is pronounced Hock—Mah. The import of the word is wisdom. Its meaning, comes from the earliest mists of time, when belief in an almighty was beginning to form in the minds of mankind. It equates to the Greek word ‘Sophia’ for it stands for the divine perfection of the Wisdom which is manifest in God’s creative acts. It corresponds to Uranus in astrology. Perhaps the best way to describe Chokmah is as the “Eureka” moment. At the very instant at which we solve any problem or puzzle, there are no words. There are no thoughts. There is only an instant of “Eureka” as we realize that we have found a solution. This moment is soon followed by thought, and yet the moment itself is beyond thought. The flash of creativity that is Chokmah is very close, to the “nothingness” of Keter. Proverbs 1.7 begins “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; but fools despise wisdom and instruction”. The Hebrew word that is used for fear in this passage can also be translated as awe and it is in this context that this passage should be understood. Chokmah stands at the threshold of Keter and when we are able to trace that creative thought back to its origin in that which is beyond thought, we tremble with awe. Hence, wisdom is the gateway to the awe that lies beyond our world of thought and form.
Solomon said: “incline thine ear unto wisdom and apply thine heart to understanding.”
For “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.
For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies; and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.”
Knowledge is cognizance of fact. Wisdom is the strength of mind to apply that cognizance soundly and to effect. A Mason may know every word of our ritual from the beginning of the Entered Apprentice’s Degree to the final words of the Sublime Degree of Master-Mason and still be without wisdom.
The JD picks up the large framed visual aid from in front of the JW’s pedestal, on which are depicted the emblems of a Master mason’s Court and holds it up in front of the Candidate.
WM: Our brethren will now explain to you the meaning of the emblems of a Master Masons Court.
JW, stands: I will explain the emblems of a Master Masons Court. The first three emblems of a Master Mason’s Court are the Three Steps, the Pot of Incense and the Beehive.
The first three regular steps in Freemasonry represent to us the three principal stages of human life, youth, manhood and age. In youth, as Entered Apprentices, we ought industriously to occupy our minds in the attainment of useful knowledge; in manhood, as Fellow Crafts, we should apply our knowledge to the discharge of our respective duties to God, our neighbours, and ourselves. So with age, as Master Masons, we may enjoy the satisfaction and happy reflection consequent upon a well-spent life, as we contemplate the ending of our mortal existence with the hopes of the life which is to come.
The pot of incense alludes to a pure heart, which alone is an acceptable sacrifice to the Deity and reminds us that, as this glows with fervent heat, so should our hearts continually glow with gratitude to the great and beneficent Author of our existence for the manifold blessings and comforts we enjoy.
The beehive is an emblem of industry, essential to some extent or another to all created beings, from the highest seraph in heaven to the lowest reptile of the dust. It teaches us that, as we came into the world able, rational and intelligent beings, so we should ever remain industrious, never sitting down content while our fellow-creatures around us are in want, when it is in our power to relieve them, often without inconvenience to ourselves.
Behold man, in his infancy, more helpless and indigent than brute creation. He lies languishing for days, weeks, months and years, totally incapable of self-sustenance; of guarding against the attacks of the wild beasts of the field, or of sheltering himself from the inclemency of the weather.
It pleased The Great Creator of Heaven and Earth to make fully formed men capable of great independence and strength of mind. There is, however, a wonderful paradox, since dependence is one of the greatest strengths of Humanity. By His wisdom mankind were made social and dependent on each other for protection and security By this apparent weakness. we have been truly blessed by the potential enjoyment and fulfillment of reciprocal love and friendship. Hence it is our profession as Masons to teach, and communicate happiness. Thus was man formed for social and active life, the noblest part of the work of God, and he that will so demean himself, as not to be endeavouring to add to the common stock of knowledge and understanding, may be deemed a drone in the hive of nature, a useless member of society, and unworthy of our protection as Masons.
JW takes the visual aid from the JD and holds it for him.
JD: The next five emblems are the Book of Constitutions, guarded by the Outer Guard’s Sword, the Sword pointing to a naked heart, the All-Seeing Eye, the Anchor and Ark and the Forty-Seventh problem of Euclid. It is the duty of the Deacons to explain them when required.
The Book of Constitutions, guarded by the Outer Guard’s Sword. reminds us of that important Latin Motto of the Craft “Audi, Vide, Tace”, and to be ever watchful and guarded in our thoughts, words, and actions, particularly when before the enemies of Masonry, ever carrying a remembrance of the values of silence and circumspection.
The Sword pointing to a naked heart, demonstrates that justice will sooner or later overtake us; and although our thoughts, words and actions may be hidden from the eye of man yet that All-Seeing Eye, whom the sun, moon and stars obey, and under whose watchful care even comets perform their stupendous revolutions, pervades the inmost recesses of the human heart, and will reward us according to our merits.
The JD steps back and the SD takes his place and continues the explanation of the emblems of a Master Mason’s Court.
SD: The Anchor and Ark, being emblems of a well-grounded hope and a well-spent life, are emblematical of that Divine Ark, which will safely carry us over our tempestuous sea of troubles, and that anchor which shall moor us securely in a peaceful harbour.
“There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary shall find rest.”
The Forty-Seventh problem of Euclid was an invention of our ancient friend and brother, the great Pythagoras, who, in his travels through Asia, Africa and Europe, was initiated into several orders of priesthood, and raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason. This wise philosopher enriched his mind abundantly with a general knowledge of things, and more especially of Geometry, or Masonry. On this subject he drew out many problems and theorems; and among the most distinguished he erected this, which, in the joy of his heart, he called Eureka, in the Grecian language signifying, I have found it; and upon the discovery of which he is said to have sacrificed a hecatomb. It teaches Masons to be general lovers of the arts and sciences.
The JW passes the visual aid to the SD who places it in front of the pedestal. The SD returns to his seat. The Candidate is conducted by the JD, followed by the SW, to the West, where the Hour Glass is placed on a pedestal or table.
SW: The Hour Glass, the Scythe, the Spade, the Coffin, Death-Head, Marrowbones and Sprig of Acacia are the final seven emblems. You may be acquainted with some of their symbolism, but it is my duty to explain them to you further, that you may be better enabled to contemplate the next steps on your journey.
The Hour Glass should be demonstrably turned over and the flow of sand indicated by the SW.
SW: The Hour Glass is an emblem of human life. Behold! How swiftly the sands run, and how rapidly our lives are drawing to a close. We cannot, without astonishment, behold the little particles which are contained in this machine; how they pass away, almost imperceptibly, and yet to our surprise in a short space of an hour they are all exhausted. Thus wastes man! To-day, he puts forth the tender leaves of hope; tomorrow, blossoms, and bears his blushing honours thick upon him. The next day comes a frost, which nips the root, and when he thinks his greatness is still ripening, he falls like autumn leaves, to enrich our mother earth.
The SW walks back to his pedestal but remains standing. The Candidate is conducted to the East by the JD and placed in front of SW’s pedestal. The JD then picks up the large framed visual aid, from alongside the JW’s pedestal, and holds it up in front of the Candidate.
SW: The scythe is an emblem of time, which cuts the brittle thread of life, and launches us into eternity. Behold! What havoc the scythe of time makes among the human race! If by chance we should escape the numerous evils, incident to childhood and youth, and with health and vigour come to the years of manhood, yet withal we must soon be cut down by the all-devouring scythe of tune, and be gathered into the land where our fathers have gone before us.
The Spade, Coffin, Death-Head, Marrowbones and Sprig of Acacia, are thus explained. The Spade opens the vault to receive our bodies where our active limbs will soon moulder to dust.
The Coffin, Death-Head and Marrowbones are emblematical of the death and burial of our Grand Master Hiram Abif, whose noble example of fortitude and fidelity to his Obligation is worthy of your serious attention.
The Sprig of Acacia is emblematical of that important part of man which never dies—and when the cold winter of death shall have passed, and the bright summer’s morn of the Resurrection appears, the Son of Righteousness shall descend, and send forth his angels to collect our ransomed dust. Then, if we are found worthy, by His password, we shall enter into the celestial lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides. There we shall see the King in the beauty of holiness and with him enter into an endless eternity.
SW sits. Marshal places seat in the South on the edge of the carpet.
SW: Our Brother Secretary will now explain to you the Ancient Charges of a Master Mason You may be seated.
Candidate is seated in the South facing the Secretary. JD replaces the visual aid in front of the JW pedestal and returns to his seat. The Secretary rises.
Sec: In former times the Ancient Charges of a Master Mason applied to Operative Masons, who needed to be able bodied to perform their daily work. As Moralising, or Speculative Masons, we have no need of such stringent health and fitness to perform our duties. Similarly, the Masons’ Guilds admitted in those times only Christian men, regular churchgoers, whose “Allogements”, (from which the word “Lodge” is derived) were built as temporary structures on the side of the Cathedral, Abbey, or Church they were working on. Nowadays, as has been the case for almost two centuries, our Craft Lodges and Royal Arch Chapters do not require members to be Christians, but admit all men professing a belief in a Supreme Being.
There were nine Charges for all Masons and a further nineteen Charges for Masters and Fellows. In the course of a full year all of these Charges will be read out to the members in open lodge.
Sec: These are the Nine Charges for All Masons.
· First, that you shall be true men of God and holy Church and that you use no error nor heresy but be discreet and wise men;
· Also that you should be true liege men to the king of England without treason or falsehood and that you know no treason unless you amend it or warn the king or his Council;
· Also that you be true to one another, that is to say to every Mason of the Craft you shall do unto them as they should do unto you;
· Also that you keep the counsel of your fellows truly, in lodge and in chamber or in other councils that ought to be kept by way of Masonhood;
· Also that no Mason shall be a thief in Company so far as he may know and that he shall be true each to the other and to the lord or master and truly see to his profits and advantages;
· Also you shall call Masons fellows or brethren and no foul names;
· Also you shall not take your fellow’s wife in villany nor desire ungodly his daughter or his servant or put him to disworship;
· Also you shall truly pay for his meat and drink where you go to board;
· Also you shall do no villany where you go to board whereby the Craft might be slandered.
Secretary sits; SD collects Candidate and places him in the centre of the Court, facing the WM.
WM: Brother …, you have proved yourself worthy of your rank as a Master Mason. I therefore delegate our Brother SW to invest you with your apron as a Master Mason of this Court. SD conducts Candidate to SW.
SW: Brother …, by command of the Worshipful Master, I invest you with this apron of Crimson, ennobled by the Saxon Crown of King Athelstan. May you wear it with pride and by your actions bring honour to our Order every day.
WM: You may now take your place in the Court and attend to a retrospective of the history of this degree.
Candidate is seated in the centre of the Court on the South side. SD returns to his seat, EP moves to a position just in front of the Candidate & reads: Brother …, let me first congratulate you on taking this very important step in your Masonic knowledge. It is hoped that it will stimulate your mind to further Masonic research.
Although our Order can claim links with the early Egyptian Geometricians like Euclid and wise men like Solomon and Enoch; indeed since the time of the first settlement being built by the first builder who laid the first brick on the Earths soil. It is from the time of the first administrative structure in Operative Masonry that we take this degree.
Athelstan was the first King of All the English and grandson of Alfred the Great. He reigned between 925 and 939. Athelstan was a distinguished and courageous soldier who pushed the boundaries of the kingdom further than anyone had done before, up until the time of his death at Gloucester on 27th October 939.
Under Athelstan, law codes strengthened royal control over his large kingdom. Currency was regulated to control silver’s weight and to penalise fraudsters. Buying and selling was largely confined to the Burghs, encouraging town life. Areas of settlement in the Midlands and Danish towns were consolidated into shires.
Overseas, Athelstan built alliances by marrying four of his half-sisters to various rulers in Western Europe. He was also a great collector of artworks and religious relics, which he gave away to many of his followers, and to churches to gain the support of the clergy.
Athelstan died at the height of his power, and was buried in Malmesbury Abbey. He had been an ardent supporter and endower of the Abbey and it is fitting that he should be buried there.
Sir Frank Stenton, whilst referring to a letter of gratitude from the great and the good sent to Athelstan in respect of his Law making decrees, writes in the Oxford History of England.
‘But the most significant of these unofficial texts is a memorandum recording the measures taken for the execution of the King’s decrees by a body described as a ‘peace-gild’, of which the leading members were Bishops and Reeves belonging to London.’
He continues ‘The ordinary members of the gild were the countrymen of a region which certainly included all Middlesex and may also comprise of Surrey and parts of Hertfordshire.’
‘Like later associations of the same kind, this early gild made provision for the spiritual benefit of its members.’
He continues further, ‘Its members were divided into groups often, one of whom acted as headman of his company. The groups often were combined into groups of one hundred over each of which a separate headman presided. He with the headmen of the groups often formed a standing committee.
They met once a month, accounted for the money they gave to the common stock, saw that the gild statutes were adhered to and held a “gild-fest” - And it from this model that we take our Order’s structure.
In 926 Prince Edwin, the half brother of King, Athelstan, on the Kings behest, summoned a general assembly of Master Masons at York. He had for some time been concerned about the poor practices of the operative masons and decided to lay down certain standards eventually to be known as the Old Charges. These were recorded in a number of manuscripts and a full list should be available with each Court’s Secretary for those who wish to further their researches.
The EP returns to his seat, CoG stands and addresses the Candidate from his position in the Lodge: It was thus that on your entry to this Court that you represented one of the Master Masons summoned to the Grand Assembly in York. Your shortcomings in the signs and words of the various degrees requiring you to take further “Instruction”, before being thought worthy to receive the Ancient Charges. The term “Instruction” is used in this degree as it is the duty of a Master of the Masons to both employ and instruct his brethren in Freemasonry.
Prince Edwin went on to meet a shameful end in 933. This is further expounded upon in the inner workings of the Ceremony of Installation of a Master of this degree. He had attempted to gain power from Athelstan, but his treachery was discovered. He was set adrift at sea in a small boat without oars, food water or other supplies. Rather than starve to death he drowned himself. Earlier histories state that he had been wrongly accused, but written proof confirms this to be inaccurate and that a Coup d’Etat had actually been led by Edwin.
Assemblies continued to take place in York and elsewhere, some yearly, some every third year and eventually the Old Charges emerged to be used by the masons as a guide to their work and faith.
Those Old Charges were so important that when Freemasonry began to take on a speculative nature, even the “occasional lodge” of which we know about, i.e. The Initiation of Elias Ashmole at Warrington in 1646, required that a copy of an Old Charge be presented in the lodge to make it ‘regular’.
Following the Fire of London Sir Christopher Wren, Assistant Surveyor General, almost certainly a Freemason and possibly even what today we would call Grand Master, was entrusted by the King with the great work of reconstruction and we owe to him the magnificent structure of St. Paul’s Cathedral. According to one account ‘The highest or last stone on top of the Lantern was laid by the hands of the Surveyor’s son, Christopher Wren, deputed by his father, in the presence of many other Free and Accepted Masons’.
By 1715 four old Lodges, all working in London, decided to bring some order and regularity to the Craft and formed themselves into a Grand Lodge. This took place on St John the Baptist’s day, 24th June 1717, when Anthony Sayer was elected as the first Grand Master. The Order then became purely speculative whilst retaining the working tools and technical terms of art of the old operative masons. This Grand Lodge became known as the ‘Moderns’.
During the early years of the new Grand Lodge exposures of Masonic rituals were published in London and elsewhere so the Grand Lodge had no option but to change some of the passwords and ritual 10 prevent the irregular ‘making of masons’. Not satisfied with these alterations, certain brethren from the growing number of Lodges in London, decided to break away from the original Grand Lodge and in 1751 formed the “Grand Lodge of England according to the Old Institutions” later to become known as the “Antients Grand Lodge”. The ‘Antients’ became a rival to the “Moderns Grand Lodge” of 1717 and was quickly recognised by the Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland.
The two Grand Lodges continued in parallel through to 1813, when the Duke of Sussex for the “Moderns” and his brother the Duke of Kent for the “Antients” united the two bodies to form the United Grand Lodge of England.
You will now attend to the WM, who will present to your notice the Warrant of the Court, the statutes of the Order and by-laws of this Court.
The Candidate is taken to the WM, by the SD who shows him the warrant of the Court and presents the BoC, by-laws and welcomes him to the Order & Court.
SD returns newly instructed brother to his place in the Court and resumes his own seat.
WM: Does any Brother have anything, to communicate fur the Good of the Order in General or this the … Court No ... in particular?
All matters are dealt with at one rising, commencing with the Grand Court, the Province and then the Court. The Secretary will rise, salute and communicate any appropriate matters. This should be given in summary only, unless specifically directed otherwise.
WM: Brethren assist me to close this Court. All rise.
WM: Brother JW, JW gives sign direct the CoG to ensure that the Guard is at his post.
JW: Brother CoG, CoG gives sign it is the WM’s command that you ensure that the Guard is at his post.
CoG cuts sign, goes to door and opens it. Having seen that the Guard is at his post, he closes door and returns to edge of carpet.
CoG, gives sign: WM, the Guard is at his post and all is secure.
WM: Brother SW, SW gives sign see that the Brethren appear to order as Court Master Masons.
SW: Brethren, it is the WM’s command that you appear to order as Court Master Masons.
All stand to order.
WM: Eminent Brother Prior, before the Court is closed, will you kindly discharge your last duty?
EP (all give sign): We thank thee Supreme Being fur thy spiritual presence during our labours and crave the continuance of thy divine guidance in all our lawful undertakings in this world, so that we may finally receive our due reward in the world to come.
ALL: So Mote it Be.
WM: Brother SW, the labours of this day being ended, you have my command to close the Court. Gavels with left hand ** **.
SW: Brethren, in the name of the Supreme Being and by command of the WM, I close this Court. All cut sign and SW gavels with right hand ** **.
JW: And it is closed accordingly until our next regular meeting on …, emergencies excepted of which every Brother will receive due notice.
** **. This Court is no longer in session.
WM closes Old Testament, places S&C closed on top and JD covers RS. The National Anthem, followed by the closing ode, may now be sung. The Marshal will then form the retiring procession.
NOT be used, but smaller low backed replacements substituted.