REBEKAH, OR LADIES’ DEGREE.
Dit amerikaanse rituaal dateert uit 1909.
Noble Grand (one rap calling to order): Officers and members, we have assembled for the purpose of transacting business in the Degree of Rebekah. Therefore, those who are not entitled to a seat with us in this degree are kindly requested to retire to the ante-room. The Guardian will close the door, and the Warden will prove those present according to our laws and usages.
Warden examines all present and reports.
NG.: Inside Guardian: retire and assume the duties of Outside Guardian and request that officer to enter the Lodge-room.
The Outside Guardian will enter, without Alarm, and take the station of the Inside Guardian.
NG.: Outside Guardian, what is your duty?
OG.: To secure the outer door, and permit none to enter the ante-room, without your permission, unless qualified in the Password of the current term.
NG.: Return to your station and request the Inside Guardian to enter.
The Inside Guardian will enter, without giving Alarm, and resume her station.
NG.: Inside Guardian, what is your duty?
IG.: To attend the inner door, to permit none to enter but those who are qualified and allow none to retire without the permission of the Noble Grand.
NG.: Conductor, what are the duties of your office?
Conductor: To conduct Candidates through the mysteries of the degree, and to assist the Warden in the duties of his office.
NG.: Warden, what is your duty?
Warden: To prove those present, at opening, in the Passwords; to see that the room is in order, and to care for the regalia.
NG.: Secretary, what is your duty?
Secretary: To keep accurate minutes of all transactions and business of the lodge.
NG.: Vice Grand, what are the duties of your station?
VG.: To officiate in my station and for the Noble Grand in his absence, and to give my assistance in the performance of the business of the lodge.
NG.: Worthy Chaplain, what are the general duties prescribed for our members?
Chaplain: To live peaceably with all men, to do good unto all men as we have opportunity, and especially to obey the Golden Rule: “As ye Would that others should do unto you, do ye even so to them.”
NG. (to the Lodge): Such are the duties; see ye that they are duly performed three raps, all rise. The members will sing the opening ode.
Brethren of our mystic Union,
Sisters of our Social Band,
Here, in peaceful, pure communion,
We at FRIENDSHIP’S altar stand.
LOVE unfurls her banner o’er us,
TRUTH will guide us on our way,
FAITH illume the path before us,
HOPE a future bright display.
CHARITY that faileth never,
Fall to worship at her shrine ;
Here we bow, and pledge forever
Labor in her cause divine.
When the clouds of sin and sadness
Shroud in gloom the weary head,
There, in peace and Joy and gladness,
Shall the light of LOVE be shed.
NG.: Worthy Chaplain, will you invoke the blessing of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe upon our convocation?
Chaplain: Almighty God, our Creator and Preserver, we invoke thy blessing upon the members of this Lodge and the entire Order. May we be ever faithful to the principles of Odd Fellowship, so that benevolence and charity may be promoted. Bless the widow and orphan, and that in affliction or distress, and relieve their necessities. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name: Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven: Give us this day our daily bread: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver as from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever. AMEN.”
The Test or Trial Sign is given by all present.
NG.: Warden, you will proclaim this lodge duly opened.
Warden: By order of the Noble Grand I proclaim this lodge open in the Degree of Rebekah for the transaction of any business that may be legally brought before it.
NG.: Officers and members, so be it.
Members: So be it!
NG. (one rap, all are seated).
If more than one Lady Candidate is in waiting, the wording of the proceedings will be changed to the plural throughout. An Officer is appointed by the NG. to act as Conductor. He passes into the ante-room, and in company with the Candidate, who has removed her hat, etc., he gives one rap on the inner door.
IG. (opening the wicket): What do you desire?
Conductor: To be admitted with a candidate who wishes to be instructed in the Rebekah Degree.
The Inside Guardian closes the wicket.
IG.: Noble Grand, the Conductor with a candidate, who wishes to be instructed in the Rebekah Degree.
NG.: Admit them. (Calls up the Lodge)
Cond.: Worthy Vice Grand, I present to you this lady, who is desirous of obtaining the privileges and honors of a degree that will enable her more fully to co-operate in the work of Odd Fellowship.
NG. seats the Lodge.
NG.: Do you believe in a Supreme, Intelligent Creator and Ruler of the Universe?
Candidate: I do.
VG.: Do you desire to unite with us in this Degree of Odd Fellowship in order that you may Cultivate and, extend the Social and Fraternal relations of life, and assist in performing the duties enjoined upon Odd Fellows by that imperative law which Commands them, “to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphan?”
Candidate: I do.
VG.: Will you devote yourself to this work in our way? Will you silently do good, as good ought always to be performed; and, in spite of envy and calumny, keep your charities and your labors of love secret from the selfish world? Will you do good for its own sake; return kindness for hostility, and ever strive, quietly and unboastingly, to mitigate the vast amount of suffering and pain in the world?
Candidate: I will.
VG.: You must be warned before you proceed. We seek to impose on you no obligation that in after-life you may regret. No reluctant vows are asked for here. Reflect therefore! You may not think, you cannot realize how difficult are the duties you in common with us are about to assume. Our work is a constant war with selfishness, unaided by even human praise, for which alone so many toils are undertaken. In the holy Bible it is written: “When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth; that thine alms may be secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, Himself shall reward thee openly.” Behold in that law the only recompense you may hope for; the only praise to which you can aspire. We have none other to offer. Still more think of the sacrifice applied in that second great commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” You are yet free. Pause then, before you consent to assume obligations that will bind you, as they have bound us, to duties like these. Reflect, for it may happen that you will be called upon to give up the pleasures of life to minister at the couch of suffering. You may be summoned from the whirl of gayety to stand at a bedside of anguish. You may be asked to forego the pleasure of some social evening circle to watch through the long vigils of night, the struggle between life and death, and to pour oil if possible, into the expiring lamp of life. Having given you this admonition it becomes my duty to administer to you a solemn obligation both to impress on your mind and conscience the humane duties of Odd Fellow ship, and to rivet on your remembrance the deep importance of strictly guarding the test of the Degree.
With this explanation of our object in asking you to pledge us your word of honor, are you willing to enter into an obligation with us?
Candidate: I am.
If the candidate does not give acceptable answer, the candidate will be taken to the ante-room.
VG.: Conductor, present the Candidate at the altar for obligation.
NG. calls up the Lodge.
VG (to Candidate): Place your right hand upon the Bible and repeat after me:
I, ..., in the presence of the members of the Rebekah Degree of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows here assembled do solemnly promise that I will never reveal to any one the Mysteries of this Degree, or the Passwords and Signs belonging to it, and now about to be intrusted to me, except to a member of this Degree, whom I may find, on due trial, to be in possession of them, or when in the discharge of official duties within the Lodge. I furthermore promise to abide by the Laws, Rules and Regulations of the Sovereign Grand Lodge to which my Lodge may be Subordinate, and of this Lodge or any Rebekah Lodge of which I may become a member. To all secrecy and obedience in this respect, I hereby pledge my sacred word of honor, without any mental reservation, and with a full determination to preserve my plighted faith inviolate until the end of life.
VG.: Conductor, you will now present this sister to the Noble Grand for the necessary instructions.
Cond.: I will, Worthy Vice Grand.
VG. (one rap seating the lodge).
The Conductor will then proceed with the Candidate to the Noble Grand’s chair.
Cond.: Noble Grand, I have the pleasure of presenting to you this lady who has pledged to our worthy Vice Grand her sacred honor never to reveal the secrets now about to be intrusted to her keeping.
NG.: Reposing confidence in your plighted faith, I now proceed to give you such instructions as appertain to this degree.
The NG. explains and exemplifies the signs and countersigns of the Degree.
NG.: Let me state to you distinctly and emphatically that these signs are never to be idly used, merely for pleasure or curiosity. They are intended for useful purposes only; and though you are at liberty to practice them in the secret privacy with others whom you may know, OF YOUR OWN KNOWLEDGE, to have received them legally, you are not allowed to use them at home or abroad without some practical, useful end in view. In times of distress or peril or difficulty you are not only at liberty to use them, but are also instructed to do so.
THE ANNUAL PASSWORD is intended as a further proof-test of membership in the Degree. It goes into operation on the 1st of January of each year. After having received some sign which would seem to indicate membership in this degree you are at liberty to ask for the password, and upon being answered, “commence yourself,” you will commence with the last letter of the word. This is replied to by the person you challenge with the first letter of the word, and you then respond with the middle or any of the middle letters, to be replied to, “even so.” The password is never to be given in full under any circumstances whatever, never to be written, never even to be spoken as a word, except in giving instructions, as in the present case; and especially no experiments are to be tried with it without some useful or friendly purpose in view.
The Conductor will proceed with the Candidate to our worthy Chaplain, there to receive the Scriptural Lecture of the Rebekah Degree.
The Conductor leads the Candidate and seats her in front of the Chaplain.
Chaplain: He who reads the pages of holy Writ intelligently often finds his memory wandering back to those sketches of the women of the Bible, which appear as delightful episodes in the great history, linking it, by a chain that all can see and feel, with our own realizations of domestic life. And woman needs no higher eulogy than to be judged by those noble specimens of her sex immortalized by having their names embalmed in the Book of Books. What a glorious galaxy appears on those sacred pages!
We especially refer you to the beautiful and graceful REBEKAH whose kindness and hospitality to an humble, unknown servant, portrays the grandeur of her character. When Abraham being old and well stricken in years, became anxious to provide a suitable wife for his son Isaac, he called his eldest servant and said to him: “Go unto my country and my kindred and take a wife unto my son Isaac.” Upon this direction, Eliezer arose and went into the city of Nahor, and REBEKAH was pointed out by God himself as a fitting wife for Isaac, and she went forth from the vale of Haran at that bidding, leaving home, family, and friends, to travel the journey of life with a stranger in a distant land.
We call your attention also to the MOTHER OF SAMSON, who held discourse, timid yet confiding, with the Angel whose name is Wonderful; to HANNAH, who dedicated her first-born to that illustrious service of the Almighty, which has linked the name of Samuel with all our brightest recollections of prophecy and priesthood; to DEBORAH, who, as has been so beautifully said, in that era of her womanhood, rose, in times of trouble, like a morning star over the night of Israel’s calamities, and at whose word the stars, in their courses, fought against Sisera; to that unselfish and queenly ESTHER, who, when a cruel king had condemned the children of Israel, to suffer death, promptly risked station and life to save her people and her race; and to RUTH, whose character is enshrined in the pastoral record that bears her name, and that has handed down to us her fortitude, her affection, and her piety in a simple narrative more thrillingly fascinating than the most highly wrought scenes of fiction. Need we even allude, in passing, to that heroic and well-remembered decision she exhibited in her sad but fearless reply to Naomi, when, in spite of the dangers of toil and exposure, of poverty and trial, of frowning and adverse prospects, she attested her filial piety in that strain of as lofty and impassioned eloquence as ever fell from human lips: “Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.”
We ask you to consider also the character of SARAH, emphatically chief among the Mothers of the Bible, the ancestress of Israel’s hosts, the wife of the patriarch of patriarchs, at whose tent the Angels of the Lord sat down at meat, and who was indeed the most specially honored of God. Of the vestal prophetess, MIRIAM, the sister of Moses and Aaron, who stands forth inferior to none in whatever makes a true woman memorable in action or suffering. In the afflictions of Egypt, in the triumph of the Red Sea, and in the perils of the wilderness she towers resplendent in her zeal and devotion. From the time when at the river’s bank she watched her infant brother’s ark, through that long journey, where quail and manna mysteriously fed the wandering hosts, and water poured from the flinty rock to assuage their thirst, until the hour that entombed her in her sequestered grave, she proved herself a woman in all that was noble and pure and holy. It was no unmeaning song of rejoicing that poured from her lips, when at the bead of the Hebrew women, on the banks of the rapidly closing Red Sea, her clear, loud voice rang forth in notes of rejoicing and praise to God:
Sound the loud timbrel o’er Egypt’s dark sea,
Jehovah hath triumphed; His people are free.
Sing for the pride of the tyrant is broken,
His chariots and horsemen all splendid and brave,
How vain was their boasting the Lord hath but spoken,
And chariots and horsemen are sunk in the wave.
Sound the loud trumpet o’er Egypt’s dark sea,
Jehovah has triumphed; his people are free
His people are free.
The inspired history of these and others who might be named is a nobler testimony to woman, a worthier eulogy of her rank and honor than can be found in. the histories of thousands of earth’s mightiest. Elizabeth, Cleopatra, Catharine or Isabella, we do not cite for your emulation and imitation, but rather the record of those whom the Bible commends, who signalized their lives, not by bloody victories on fields of carnage and of death, not by despotic sway over a nation of millions, not by the charms of personal beauty, but by their zeal in doing good, in vindicating the true modesty and worth of woman’s natural character, in pouring the oil of consolation into the wounds of the afflicted, in whispering words of sympathy in the ears of the heart-stricken, for these are duties angels might not, nay, do not scorn to perform.
Such is the sphere in which woman has gained her most unfading laurels. Nobly, right nobly, has she performed her mission. Poets have sung in glowing numbers of her constancy in hours of trial, of darkness, and of peril, of her labors at the bedside of the sick and afflicted, of her patient endurance of life’s roughest lot when shared by those she loves. To develop the spirit of helpfulness, to prompt the performance of kindly deeds, is the mission of our Degree; therefore we admonish you, wherever sorrow’s cry is heard, wherever sickness lays its paralyzing hand, to follow the innate sympathies of your nature.
NG.: Conductor, present the candidate to the Past Noble Grand, to receive the Charge of the Rebekah Degree.
The Conductor will proceed with the candidate to the chair of the Past Noble Grand.
Cond.: Past Noble Grand, by direction of the Noble Grand, I present to you the candidate for the Charge of this Degree.
Past NG.: My friend, you have become acquainted with some of the duties enjoined by Odd Fellowship. It is strange, in a cold, calculating world like ours, where so many walk through life incased in a frozen garb that repulses all approach and with ears closed to the calls of humanity, to see the heart soften under the influence of fraternity. It is odd to see a Society whose members are banded together for the benevolent duties Odd Fellows have bound themselves to perform. Tonight you have entered with us into a fraternal bond; you have assumed our obligations, and become of us and with us. Learn, then, that to correct the besetting sin of selfishness is one of the highest aims and objects of Odd Fellowship. It teaches us that there is but one family, the whole human race, and that we are sent here together, the rich and the pour, the haughty and the humble, not as cumberers of the Earth, but as sharers of each other’s burdens. It teaches us that, wherever we hear the sigh of sorrow, the moan of the heart-broken, the appeal of the destitute or the wail of the miserable, we should be quick in our ministrations of mercy, not passing by on the other side, but hastening to relieve. It teaches us that we are sent here to labor for humanity, for our age, for our country. It teaches us that suffering and distress, wherever found, command the service of every one who can soften a sorrow or dry a tear, Turn from the lessons of our Order to its practical work. See the widow and the fatherless as they leave the dreary solitude of the tomb. how cheerless the prospect! Bereft of him upon whom they had leaned with trusting confidence, the future seems as dark and gloomy as their hearts are sad and heavy. Their hope, their happiness, their all seem to have been entombed, But in that dark hour there comes to them the golden promise of Odd Fellowship, to be a guardian of the widow, a father to the fatherless. It comes and lights the gloomy prospect with rays of hope. It comes and the widow realizes that she has a shield against the rough winds of adversity. It comes and the orphans know that they will be cared for; that they will find a Home around which will cluster all the love and tenderness and watchful care which make home the dearest place in all the earth.
Teaching such lessons, performing such work, resting on the immutable corner-stones, Friendship, Love and Truth, the mighty fabric of Odd Fellowship rears its stately form toward the skies. Though the storms of opposition may beat around its base, and the surges of prejudice strive to engulf it in the billows that they hurl upon it, its stately and majestic form will still remain unharmed amid the contending tempests, and crumble into atoms only when the Earth upon which it stands, yields in the wreck of matter and the crash of worlds. There it will stand:
As some tall cliff that lifts its awful form,
Swells from the vale, and midway leaves the storm;
Though round its breast the rolling clouds are spread,
Eternal sunshine settles on its head.”
Past NG.: Conductor, you will present the candidate to the Noble Grand for final instruction in this Degree.
Cond.: Noble Grand, I present to you the candidate who has listened to our beautiful teachings, and awaits the concluding instruction.
NG.: My friend: having entered within our sacred circle and assumed our obligations it becomes my duty to inform you of the badge or collar of this Degree: for Sisters a badge or collar of pink and green, the colors being emblematic of Steadfast Friendship and Eternal Love. For Brothers, the regalia they are entitled to wear in Subordinate Lodge. Sister, for by that name you shall now be known, receive from me this badge or collar as the token of the Rebekah Degree, to which, in the name, and by the authority of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, I now declare you admitted. Be faithful to your obligations. Fail not, falter not, weary not in well doing.
The NG. further instructs the Candidate in the symbols of the Degree. The Conductor presents the Candidate at the desk of the Secretary where she signs the constitution and By-Laws of the Lodge. She is then led into the ante-room, and works her way in due form into the Lodge.
NG. (to the lodge): Officers and members: Our business being concluded, you will please be standing and assist in the performance of the closing ceremonies. (Two raps, all rise.)
Good-night! a truthful, kind adieu,
“May joy be with you all”
Who here the social bond renew,
And love our sacred hail.
Good-night! Our Order’s triple chain
Keep ever strong and bright,
Each evil act and thought restrain.
Adieu! Good-night! Good-night!
NG.: Our Worthy Chaplain will please perform the duties of his office.
A prayer is offered by the Chaplain.
NG.: Warden, you will please declare this lodge closed in the Degree of Rebekah.
W.: By order of the Noble Grand I declare this lodge closed in the Degree of Rebekah.
NG.: Officers and members, so be it.
So be it!
NG. (one rap).