National Benevolent Society
Master calls Lodge to Order with 2 Raps.
Master: Officers, take your respective stations; Brothers, be seated; Guard, secure the door and admit no one without permission from the Warden.
If any officers are absent the Master will appoint members to fill their stations.
Master, * *: Conductor, you will now examine the brethren in the Lodge room and report the names of any not having our local pass-word and the semi-annual pass-word and the grip.
Conductor rises: Noble Master, I will carefully examine all present and obey your commands.
Conductor first approaches Master and communicates the pass-word to him (in a whisper) and then examines each member present by giving the grip with the hand and lets each member "whisper" pass-word in his left ear.
Conductor: Noble Master, I have examined our brethren and found all correct except .
Conductor returns to his chair.
Master: Brother Treasurer, are all present in good standing for our local lodge dues on your record?
Treasurer rises and takes careful notice of each member present before answering. If all are in good standing he so reports: all not in good standing can pay or withdraw.
Master to Local Secretary: Brother Secretary, are all the brothers in good standing with the Supreme Lodge of our Noble Order?
Local Secretary reports. Any not in good standing can pay or withdraw.
Social members have to pay local lodge dues only.
Master: Warden, what is your duty?
Warden rises: My duty is to encourage brotherly love and friendship between our members, to assist in the initiation of a candidate, to keep the rituals and regalia of our order safe in my possession, and to obey the orders of our Noble Master.
Master: Treasurer, what is your duty?
Treasurer rises: To receive and keep a correct record of all dues and other moneys paid for our Local Lodge, to see that all members in good standing are so reported, and to assist in the initiation of a candidate.
Master: Chief Committeeman, of how many members does your noble committee consist?
Chief Committeeman rises: One Committeeman for each five members of the Lodge, who are chosen by the Lodge and who in turn choose their Chief, who has the honor to represent their noble body.
Master: Chief Committeeman, what is the duty of your noble committee?
Chief Committeeman: To visit all sick or disabled members, to assist them in any possible way and in the dark hour of death to take charge of the obsequies of our deceased brother should his family so desire. If any deserving brother be without work to assist him to find employment or a place to at least earn his daily bread. If any brother acts as is unbefitting a member of this Lodge, to investigate and report the facts to you.
Master: Past Master, what is your duty and where is your station?
Past Master: It is my duty to serve as Master in your absence, to properly instruct candidates in the "Secret Work" and to welcome visiting brothers to our fold. My station is at the left of the Noble Master.
Master: Secretary, what is your duty?
Local Secretary: My duty is to collect the Supreme Lodge assessments and regularly forward the same to the Supreme Lodge and to promptly notify the Lodge of any brothers who are delinquent to the Supreme Lodge. It is also my duty to aid the Treasurer to collect the Local Lodge dues from the members. My station is at the right of the Master.
Master: Officers and Brothers, I expect each officer to do his duty, and brothers to be orderly and attentive to the business of the evening, so that we may not be under the necessity of enforcing the restrictive laws or fines. It is the duty of the Master to judge impartially of every transaction, and to admit no Brother who is not in good standing. I therefore trust that all will act with prudence and integrity, as on these virtues depend our happiness and comfort; keeping in view that philanthropic principle by which we hail each other as brothers, regarding our Lodge as our family, and whose actions, if founded on that grand principle, are calculated to make men social and humane. Officers and Brothers, I will thank you to stand and assist the Warden in opening the Lodge. Master gives three raps and all rise.
Warden: By the direction of our Noble Master I now proclaim this Lodge opened for the transaction of such business as may be properly brought before it and for the diffusion of principles of "Benevolence," during which time we will admit of no political, sectarian or other improper debate under penalty. We will now sing our opening ode, after which we will kneel with our Master in a word of prayer.
N. B. S., Hail to thee
King of Fraternity,
Leader of men,
Come join us, while ye may
Protect thyself today.
Lay all thy fears away,
And join the throng.
Master's Opening Prayer
We humbly beseech Thee, our Heavenly Father, to preside over our assembly, to breathe into our hearts the spirit of love, and may each and all be governed by an anxious desire to advance Thy glory. Be with us, guide us, and protect us, we humbly ask in His name. Amen!
Master gives one rap and all are seated.
Master: Conductor, you are requested to retire to the ante-room and ascertain if there be any strangers in waiting to receive the "Initiatory Degree." Conductor retires.
Conductor: Noble Master, I have obeyed your commands and find a stranger named Mr. awaiting our rites.
Master: Brother Recorder, you are requested to retire with the Conductor to the ante-room and perform the duties of your office.
The Recorder and Conductor retire and ask the candidate the following questions, the Recorder keeping a record of the questions and answers on his minute book.
Recorder should have questions already written in his Minute book and spaces left to write answer.
All the candidates can answer at once.
Recorder: Do you promise to keep forever secret all that may take place in the lodge room, and divulge none of the secret work and initiatory ceremony?
Recorder: Is it your desire to join with and aid us in building up our noble order?
Recorder: Have you faithfully and truly answered every question in your application for membership to the Supreme Lodge?
The candidate and Recorder both sign their names under the questions and answers.
Conductor takes minute book and reads questions and answers to himself.
Conductor: All these questions have been answered to my satisfaction. Are you now willing to enter into an obligation to keep secret all that may transpire during your initiation?
Candidate: I am.
Conductor: Then place your right hand in mine, and repeat after me: "I, upon my honor as a man, do solemnly promise that I will forever keep secret all that may transpire during my initiation.
If there is more than one candidate all can take obligation at once.
The Outside Guard now blindfolds the candidate and conducts him to the inner door and gives three raps.
Inner Guard, * * *: Who comes there?
Outside Guard: Our Noble Conductor and Noble Recorder, with a candidate who desires to be initiated into our Order.
Inner Guard: Brother Warden, the Outside Guard reports that a candidate, in care of our Noble Conductor and Noble Recorder, desires admission.
Warden: Open the door and bid them enter.
Inner Guard: Come in, my Brothers; the stranger is also welcome. The candidate enters and Guard closes the door.
As the Initiatory Ode is sung, the candidate is conducted in front of the altar and faced toward the Master and the Conductor places a hand on his shoulder and says:
If there is more than one candidate all face Master and Conductor takes hand of each in turn, walking from each to each as he delivers his charge. The Recorder assists Conductor in guiding candidate throughout initiation.
Conductor: You are now within a Lodge of your friends; here the world is shut out; you are separated from its cares and distractions, from its dissensions and vices. Here Benevolence and Love asert their dominion. Those who surround you have all assumed the obligations, and endeavor to cherish the sentiment peculiar to Benevolence. But before you can unite with them you must pass through an initiatory ceremony which will not conflict with your duties as a citizen or with any church or religion of which you may be a member. Are you willing to proceed?
Candidate: I am.
Conductor: Be patient then and firm and remember that you are now with friends. Place your left hand over your heart, which signifies that you are sincere, and follow me.
Conductor assisted by Recorder, will now conduct candidate once around the hall to Treasurer's station.
Conductor: Treasurer, this stranger having placed his left hand over his heart as a token that he is sincere in his desire to be our brother, I now commend him to you for further instructions.
Treasurer: My friend, place your right hand over your heart also, which means that you are doubly sincere. It is now my duty to administer to you a solemn and binding obligation, one which we have all taken, but which will not conflict with any of those exalted duties which you owe to your God, your country, your family or yourself. With this assurance are you willing to take such an obligation?
Candidate: I am.
Master gives three, raps; all rise.
Treasurer: Then pronounce your name and repeat after me: I, , in the presence of this honorable lodge of brethren do solemnly promise that I will forever keep secret all the secret work, signs, grips, and pass-words of this honorable lodge. That I will truly and faithfully live up to all its tenets and principles and will faithfully perform and obey such charges as may be given me from time to time.
I furthermore promise I will do all in my power to assist a brother in distress, the same not being detrimental to myself or my family, and I will cheerfully and willingly at all times assist a brother member to obtain and retain employment.
To all of these I faithfully and conscientiously promise upon my honor as an honourable man.
Master will now give four raps and all members will quietly form a circle between altar and Master's station.
Conductor marches candidate slowly around the hall two or three times while preparations are being made.
By music, if there is an organist, an appropriate song may also be sung by the members.
Lights are all extinguished and two candles are lighted, one at the foot and one at the head of the "representation of death."
If no skeleton can be secured a member with a white covering over him up to his chin, lying on his back perfectly still, with two coins in his eyes, makes a very good "representation." The hair can also be powdered and the face powdered with flour or talcum.
The candidate still having both hands over the heart and all members kneeling in a circle, the "representation of death'' in the center, and all being very serious and solemn, the Conductor will conduct the candidate into the circle, at the foot, and very solemnly say to the Local Secretary: Brother Secretary, what should this lesson teach us?
Local Secretary: That we know not what the morrow may bring forth. Today we laugh in merry sport or we are sad or we meditate solemnly and tomorrow we die. Friends, loved ones, no more will we see. Our voice they will hear not. Our helping hands they will know not. Then let us not only leave a monument of ourselves in their hearts, but let us make the path of our loved ones to our own end be eased.
Let us, united in one Grand Benevolent throng, prepare from day to day to help the loved ones of each other in their fight for life, as each of us pass away. Oh, never should we be careless of the morrow. Never should we allow our standing with our brothers to lapse. Sacrifice and work hard today for the great love which we bear our kindred in order that they may not seek charity tomorrow when we die.
Conductor, now says solemnly: Man in darkness and alone; how mournful the spectacle!
Yet, 'tis but the condition of millions of our race, who are void of wisdom, though they know it not. My friend, we have a lesson to impart to you, a lesson of great solemnity, a lesson that we hope will make you a nobler man, a truer friend, a more Christian gentleman. Be serious now, for our lesson is truthful
Be serious now, for our lesson is truthful. The candidate is now unblindfolded.
Behold a representation of death―that silent, yet impressive lecturer―it is all which remains on earth of one who was born as you were born, who live as you now live, who died as we all must die.
Seriously meditate the solemn admonition it affords, ponder it well and see that your HEART fosters no evil. Conductor will then silently remove candidate's hands from his heart, then Conductor and all members begin to softly sing "Jesus Lover of My Soul." Conductor and candidate march out of the circle and march around the hall, solemnly, each member rising and following in single file (all softly singing) march around the hall two or three times and then Conductor and candidate go to the ante-room; this completes first part of initiatory degree.
Lights are now lighted, the "representation of death" put in proper place and members are seated.
The sick bed scene should now be prepared. A cot is brought in (representing a bed) a member, representing a sick brother, with a bandage tied around his head, lies down on the cot, and cover is put over his body. Sick brother's face can be whitened with talcum. A brother should be seated in a chair with a palm leaf fan, fanning the sick brother. All other members form a square (representing a square room), all standing around the sick bed, between the altar and Wardens station. When everything is in readiness the Conductor (with candidates blindfolded) advances to inner door and gives three raps.
Recorder continues to assist Conductor in guiding candidates.
Inner Guard, * * *: Who comes here?
Conductor: Conductor with candidate who desires to be initiated into the second part of the Initiatory Degree of our Noble Order.
Inner Guard: Brother Warden, the Conductor with the candidate desires admission.
Warden: Open the door and bid then enter.
Conductor marches once, around hall to the right until candidate and himself both stand directly in front of and facing the Warden.
Conductor, removes blindfold: This venerable old man is our Warden. Listen attentively to what he says.
Warden, wearing old man's wig and beard, rises with difficulty, and representing a very old man, in a trembling voice, asks:
Warden: Stranger, what is your name?
Warden: How old are you?
Warden: What trade or profession have you?
Warden: Are you willing to aid us in building up our Noble Order, and to assist us if we need your assistance?
Warden: Then, stranger, listen to the voice of wisdom speaking from age and experience, and let it sink deep into your heart.
I have indeed seen many years and many solemn scenes have passed before me. But one of the sadest scenes that I have ever witnessed was a sick man without protection, among strangers.
There was no one at his bedside who loved him, no one who cared for him; it was indeed a pitiable sight.
My friend, the scene before you Conductor turns candidate around is enacted to teach you the true spirit of fraternity.
This man represents a brother who, when he was in health, always was prompt in helping his brothers and keeping up his part of our Noble Order. True, his burden was not heavy, yet he always met it promptly and paid it cheerfully. This scene represents him receiving the fruits of his benevolence. Now, when he is in need and sick among strangers, he finds that he is surrounded by his brothers and the word "stranger" fades away. These men represent his brothers who have come to his bedside to aid him in every possible way. Anywhere in the world you go you will always find us ready and willing to assist you if you need our assistance.
Remember, my brother, that our Order is "Benevolent," and you are strictly charged with being faithful to its teachings. We will now kneel in a word of prayer with our Master.
Master: We thank Thee, Heavenly Father, that we have been permitted to meet here in the spirit of true fraternity. We thank Thee Heavenly Father, that we are permitted to assist our brothers in distress. Be with us, guide us and protect us, we humbly ask in Jesus' name.
All repeat: Amen.
The Conductor will now march candidate slowly around the room, followed by all the members (excepting sick member and the member fanning him). March around the room twice, all singing "Blest Be the Tie."
Conductor and candidate march to ante-room.
Everything being in readiness the Conductor and candidate (not blindfolded) advance to inner door and give three raps.
Inner Guard, * * *: Who comes there?
Conductor: Conductor with the candidate who desires to be initiated in the third and last part of the Initiatory Degree.
Inner Guard: Brother Warden, the Conductor and a candidate desire admission.
Warden: Open the door and bid them enter.
Conductor marches around the hall once to the station of the Chief Committeeman.
Conductor: This is our Chief Committeeman. Listen attentively to what he says, and obey his commands.
Chief Committeeman: My friend, you have now entered into a Society that is far more important than you may have imagined. It conforms to law and true Benevolence, and does not permit anything contrary to the allegiance we owe to our country, or the duty we owe to our families. Let good conduct procure you the esteem of your family and friends. Let strict caution guard you against making any improper discoveries to the uninformed, for according to our laws we can be brothers only while we act like honest men.
Chief Committeeman: Conductor, proceed with our brother to the Master for further instruction.
Conductor will march candidate around the room twice, looking everywhere for the Master. Finally, arriving at the Masters chair the second time, the Master being behind the screen, the Conductor addresses the Local Secretary.
Conductor: Brother Secretary, is the Master present?
Local Secretary: He is, my Brother.
Conductor: Business of importance calls him. A stranger desires to be introduced.
Local Secretary: Then he will appear.
Local Secretary passes behind the screen and holds the following dialogue with the Master: clear and distinct.
Local Secretary: Ho! Master, business of importance calls you. A stranger desires to be introduced.
Master: A stranger? How gained he admittance within this hall?
Local Secretary: By the authority of worthy brothers, and the permission of the Warden.
Master: Has he taken upon himself the solemn and binding obligation?
Local Secretary: He has, Master.
Master: Then I will meet him.
Screen is drawn and Master rises.
Conductor: Noble Master, I present to you Brother , and commend him to your hospitality.
Master: Brother , I am pleased to receive you into this honorable Lodge of our fraternity, and may the associations formed by you here on this glorious evening long remain a potent factor in your welfare and in the welfare of your family.
May the acquaintances which shall ripen herein be to you as the dew is to the grateful rose as it raises its thirsty petals toward the azure sky, and may you always be faithful and honourable in the sight of men and your Maker.
You are especially charged with the duty of being a law-abiding and patient citizen of our glorious country.
Remember, my brother, to always live such a peaceful and charming life that your dear ones will look to you as a guiding star, whose luster never dims and whose bright beams have power to penetrate the darkest night, and when the Supreme Master has called you hence, the memory of your brief sojourn upon this beautiful earth shall remain to those whom you leave behind, as a guiding star to induce them to strive to equal your good and just deeds.
Remember that while you are here that of all virtues, Charity is the most noble, and opens the door for the introduction of Benevolence, that supreme and mighty factor in the organization of mankind which provides the will and the way for all good and noble deeds. Our order, my brother, is "Benevolent" and you are strictly charged with being faithful to its teachings.
Always be careful that you live up to all its doctrines and keep sacred the solemn vow you have just taken.
Master: Conductor, you will please conduct our brother to the Past Master, who will instruct him in the secret work of our fraternity.
Conductor marches once around the hall.
Conductor: Past Master, by orders of the Noble Master, I present you Brother to be instructed in the secret work of our fraternity.
Past Master now instructs him in secret work.
Past Master: My brother, it is an honor to associate with honorable men and know their secrets.
So let me caution you again and again to always live an honorable life in the sight of men and your God.
You have come to me to be instructed in the mysteries and secret sacred work of our Noble Order. Believing you will try to do your duty as an honorable man I will now instruct you.
To enter the outside door give any number of raps. The Outer Guard will come to the door, and to him you give your name, and the permanent pass-word.
He will admit you to the ante-room. After you are in the ante-room you will give the semi-annual
You will advance to the inner door and give raps, which will be answered by raps, and the Inner Guard will open the door and to him you will give your name and the "local" pass-word. He will report your name to the Warden, who will order you admitted, if in good standing. You will proceed directly to the altar by way of the Warden's station, and give to the Master the recognition sign, which is given thus, . He will answer with the "Benevolent Salute, " thus , and you may be seated.
If you wish to retire you will approach the altar from the rear and give the recognition sign to the Warden, who will answer by the "Benevolent Salute," and you may retire.
You never go across the room between the Master and the altar except during initiatory and other ceremonies.
When inside the hall you are expected to honor our Noble Master, and obey his commands.
Four raps of the gavel calls the members to the center of the hall. Three raps calls all members to their feet. Two raps calls for order. One rap seats the members.
The "Red Cross" that you see standing upon the altar is our "Emblem," and designates our order as the "Red Cross" fraternity.
The permanent pass-word, which never changes, is whispers. The semi-annual, which changes twice a year, is whispers.
The local pass-word, which changes every three months, is ... whispers.
The distress cry is Whispers.
The answer is ... whispers.
The recognition sign is given thus , and is used in entering the hall, and also can be if in a strange place, and you want a friend; a brother seeing you give this sign would answer by the same sign and then advance and give you the grip and words that accompany the grip.
The grip is given thus .
The words are .
The "warning sign" (meaning danger), is given thus .
The "Benevolent Salute" is given thus: and is used both inside and out the lodge room.
Voting sign (meaning Yes) thus: .
Voting sign (meaning No) thus: .
Past Master, *: Brother Conductor, you will now reconduct our brother to the Noble Master for final instructions.
Master: Brother , you are now our brother in full, so choose your seat with those about you, and remember that this is your home, your place of welcome, and in the name of the National Benevolent Society, I bid you welcome to our fold.
Write your name upon our records and choose your seat.
Candidate goes to Recorders station and writes his name and then chooses seat.
Master, * *: Warden, do you know of any reason why we should not close this session of our Lodge?
Warden rises and remains standing: I know of no reason, Noble Master.
Master to Local Secretary: Are there any brothers of this Lodge who are in arrears?
Local Secretary: Brothers and are in arrears.
Master: Have arrangements been made to have them seen and point out to them the error of their ways and how necessary that they pay their assessments and dues; to tell them how often it is the case that a brother is struck down just after he has neglected such an important matter as keeping in force the protection which the Supreme Lodge of our Noble Order affords?
Local Secretary: It has been arranged for Brothers and to call upon the delinquent brothers and talk with and remonstrate with them, and explain to them their duty to their family and themselves to provide some source of income should they get sick or hurt.
Master: It is well. It is ever our duty to be watchful of the interest of a brother and see that he and his family will be helped by "Benevolence" and not by charity. Should a brother be sorely hurt or sick and in need of assistance, then it is that he should have our sympathy and helping hands and the financial assistance of the Supreme Lodge of our Noble Order. He should ment these by being prompt in paying his mite of the grand total which goes to help and succour us in our need.
Master: Recorder, do you know of any reason why we should not close this session of our Lodge?
Recorder rises end remains standing: I know of no reason, Noble Master.
Master: Treasurer, do you know of any reason why we should not close this session of our Lodge?
Treasurer rises and remains standing: I know of no reason, Noble Master.
Master: Chief Committeeman, do you know of any reason why we should not close this session of our Lodge?
Chief Committeeman rises and remains standing: I know of no reason, Noble Master.
Master gives three raps and all arise.
Master: Brothers in the lodge room, have we left anything undone that cannot be deferred until our next meeting?
If all are satisfied we will sing our closing ode.
God be with you 'till we meet again,
By His counsel guide unhold you,
In His arms securely fold you,
God be with you 'till we meet again.
Master: Brethren, we thank you for your attendance this evening, and will expect all of you to make it convenient to attend at any future meeting.
Master: Warden, what is the last duty of your station?
Warden: It is to collect the regalia, rituals, jewels and badges and deposit them in their proper places.
Master: Guard, what is the last duty of your station?
Guard: It is to open the door and bid Godspeed to all the Brothers. Guard opens the door.
Master, *: I therefore declare this Lodge closed.