Order of Odd Fellows
Ritual of the Initiatory Degree
Noble Grand, *: Officers, take your stations. Guardians, secure the doors.
The Inside Guardian shall ascertain that the Outside Guardian has assumed his station, and that the outer door has been closed. The Inside Guardian shall then secure the inner door and report from his station.
Inside Guardian: Noble Grand, the doors are secure.
After the Guardians have closed the doors, no one shall be admitted, except to the anteroom, until the lodge is opened.
Noble Grand: Warden, examine all present that we may know them to be Brothers.
It is the duty of the Warden to receive the password of the current term and the password of the initiatory degree from every person in the lodge-room, commencing with the Noble Grand. He shall then retire to the anteroom, without form, and receive from the Outside Guardian the same passwords, and from other persons the password of the current term. The Warden is not required to respond with any part of the passwords. If any one is present in the lodge-room without the password of the current term and the password of the initiatory degree, or in the anteroom without the password of the current term, the Warden shall report to the Noble Grand.
Having made the examination, and finding all correct, he shall say:
Warden: Noble Grand, all present are Brothers.
The flag of the country where the Lodge is meeting must be displayed when the Lodge is open for business.
The flag must always be displayed, or presented and retired in strict conformance with the laws and customs of the country where the Lodge is meeting.
Grand Lodges may prescribe specific details of floor work and charges to be used, within a Jurisdiction, when presenting and retiring the flag.
In Jurisdictions where no specific details have been prescribed and when the flag is not previously posted, the following ceremony may be used.
Noble Grand: The Warden, (or Color Bearer), accompanied by … (names escort), will retire and present the flag of our Country.
The above named individuals will rise, form in front of the Noble Grand, and retire without form to the anteroom. The Warden (or Color Bearer), will secure and unfurl the flag. The escort will give the alarm at the inner door and announce "The Warden (or Color Bearer) bearing the flag of our Country, escorted by , is ready to enter.")
Inside Guardian: Noble Grand, the Warden (or Color Bearer) bearing the Flag of our Country, escorted by …, is ready to enter.
Noble Grand: Admit them.
Noble Grand calls up the lodge.
The members will follow the lead of the Noble Grand in saluting, or standing at attention, according to the laws and customs of the country in which the lodge is meeting.
Noble Grand seats the lodge.
Duties of Officers
Noble Grand: Vice Grand, what is your duty in the Lodge?
Vice Grand: Under your direction, to have charge of the inner door, except as otherwise provided in the Ritual; to admit no brother, except a member of this lodge, who has not received the password of the current term or the annual traveling password, and the password of the degree in which the lodge is open, act in conjunction with you in maintaining order, and require the brothers to be decorous, assist you m your duties, and in your absence, enforce an observance of the laws.
Noble Grand: Vice Grand, examine your supporters.
Vice Grand: Right Supporter, what is your duty?
Right Supporter: To observe that brothers give the signs correctly; report to the Noble Grand brothers that do not conduct themselves according to the regulations of the Order; and occupy your chair when vacated during lodge hours.
Vice Grand: Left Supporter, what is your duty?
Left Supporter: To assist the Right Supporter and officiate for him in his absence.
Vice Grand: My officers are correct, Noble Grand.
Noble Grand: Secretary, what is your duty?
Secretary: To keep accurate records of the transactions of the lodge.
Noble Grand: Financial Secretary, what is your duty?
Financial Secretary: To keep correctly the accounts between the lodge and its members; receive all money due the lodge, except when otherwise provided, and pay the same to the Treasurer at the close of each regular session.
Noble Grand: Treasurer, what is your duty?
Treasurer: To have charge of the funds of the lodge; to be correct, careful and honest, and secure the lodge against any loss or possibility of loss by or through me. To pay all orders drawn on me by the Noble Grand, attested by the Secretary, and tp keep accurate accounts so the lodge can be informed of its financial condition at any time.
Noble Grand: Warden, what is your duty?
Warden: T o examine all present before the lodge is opened, give the charge of office at initiation, and perform all duties required of me in conferring the degrees; place and replace the regalia in a careful way, reporting to you any damage it may have received, and obey your commands.
Noble Grand: Conductor, what is your duty?
Conductor: To receive the candidates for initiation when they enter the lodge room, to perform all duties assigned to me in conferring the degrees and otherwise, and to assist the Warden while in the lodge.
Noble Grand: Right Supporter, what is your duty?
Right Supporter: To support you in keeping order, execute your commands, open and close the lodge in due form, see that the signs are given correctly, and occupy your chair when vacated during lodge hours.
Noble Grand: Left Supporter, what is your duty?
Left Supporter: To see that brothers who enter the room are in proper regalia and give the signs correctly, and to officiate for the Right Supporter in his absence.
Noble Grand: Musician, what is your duty?
Musician: To play all required music or accompaniment during meetings and ceremonies.
Noble Grand: Color Bearer, what is your duty?
Color Bearer: To present and retire the flag of our Country, and to see that it is properly cared for.
Noble Grand: Inside Guardian, request the Outside Guardian to enter the lodge-room.
You will officiate for him during his absence.
Inside Guardian retires and relieves the Outside Guardian.
The Outside Guardian enters the lodge-room and takes the station of the Inside Guardian.
Noble Grand: Outside Guardian, what is your duty?
Outside Guardian: To see that candidates for initiation, or others to be admitted, are in order and qualified; examine and reject anyone I suspect— until your opinion is taken; obtain the term password from brothers previous to admission; and prevent the admittance of anyone during ritualistic ceremonies, or at other times when so directed.
The Outside Guardian will not admit a brother into the anteroom without the password of the current term or an official certificate showing dues paid in advance unless directed by the Noble Grand, although he may be satisfied that the brother is a member of the lodge. He is not required to respond with any part of the password.
Noble Grand: You will resume your station.
The Outside Guardian returns to his station.
The Inside Guardian returns to the lodge-room.
Noble Grand: Inside Guardian, what is your duty?
Inside Guardian: To receive the password of the degree in which the lodge is open; see that all brothers who enter are in proper regalia; act in conjunction with the Outside Guardian, and officiate for him during a temporary absence; and obey your commands.
Noble Grand: Right Scene Supporter, what is your duty?
Right Scene Supporter: To assist at initiations or otherwise, according to my office.
Noble Grand: Left Scene Supporter, what is your duty?
Left Scene Supporter: To assist at initiations or otherwise, according to my office.
Noble Grand: Officers and brothers, I expect each of you to do his duty, and to be orderly and attentive, so that we may not be under the necessity of enforcing restrictive laws or fines. It is my duty to judge impartially of every transaction. I trust that you will act with prudence, zeal and integrity, as on the exercise of these virtues depend our happiness and comfort. Regarding our lodge as our family, hailing each other as brothers, may all our actions be founded on those grand principles that tend to make men social and humane.
Noble Grand calls up the lodge.
The following Ode, and no other, may be sung.
Brethren of our friendly Order,
Honor here asserts her sway;
All within our sacred border
Must her high commands obey.
Join, Odd Fellowship of Brothers,
In the song of truth and love;
Leave disputes and strife to others,
We in harmony must move.
Honor to her courts invites us—
Worthy subjects let us prove—
Strong the chain that here unites us,
Linked with friendship, truth, and love;
In our hearts enshrined and cherished,
May these feelings ever bloom—
Faiïing not when lif e has perished,
Living still beyond the tomb.
Noble Grand: Let us unite with our Chaplain in prayer.
Chaplain: Let us pray. Almighty God, our Creator and Preserver, we invoke Your blessing upon the members of this lodge, and our entire brotherhood. May we be ever faithful to the principles of our beloved Order, so that benevolence and charity may be promoted.
Bless the widow and orphan, and all 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 us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen."
Noble Grand: Brothers, advance the countersign.
The Noble Grand will give the answer.
Right Supporter, proclaim this lodge opened.
Right Supporter: I proclaim this lodge opened for the transaction of lawful business, and for the diffusion of the principles of benevolence and charity.
Noble Grand: During which time we admit no political, sectarian, or other improper debate.
Noble Grand seats the lodge.
Noble Grand: Inside Guardian, inform the Outside Guardian the lodge is open.
The Inside Guardian retires and re-enters without form.
The Noble Grand, after affording an opportunity for those to enter who are in waiting, will proceed to business by giving one rap with his gavel for silence and order; which will be repeated by the Vice Grand.
In a Degree Lodge, the titles of the officers shall be Degree Master (who occupies the principal chair), Deputy Degree Master (who occupies the chair of the Vice Grand), First, Second, Third and Fourth Assistant Degree Masters, whose stations are to the right and left of the Degree Master and the Deputy Degree Master; Chaplain, Past Grand, Warden, Conductor, Secretary, Treasurer, Outside Guardian, and Inside Guardian, whose positions are the same as in a regular lodge.
Where the title of Noble Grand or Vice Grand is used in a lodge, that of Degree Master or Deputy Degree Master is to be substituted.
A Degree Lodge shall have other officers as the degrees require.
In all respects a degree lodge may do anything which a lodge may do when working in the degrees.
No officer or member may enter or leave a degree lodge without addressing the proper officer, except as provided in the ritual.
vocal or instrumental music, consistent with the ritual, is permissible at any
time during the ceremony of initiation.
Notes for Outside Conductor
The preliminary examination of the candidate must take place in the anteroom.
The question book, prepared and sold by The Sovereign Grand Lodge, and which each lodge must use, contains the following form.
1. What is your name?
2. Where do you reside?
3. What is your occupation?
4. How old are you?
5. Do you hold membership in, or are you suspended or expelled from, any lodge of this Order?
6. Are you, so far as you know, in sound health?
7. Do you believe in the existence of a Supreme. Intelligent Being, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe?
The candidate is required to answer these questions, and each answer is to be written, in ink, directly opposite the question, by the Outside Conductor. The candidate is required to subscribe his full name as written in his application for membership.
The Outside Conductor shall attest the Signature with his own.
Should any of the above questions not be satisfactorily answered, the Outside Conductor shall immediately report the fact to the Noble Grand who shall order the dismissal of the candidate.
If the questions are satisfactorily answered, the Outside Conductor shall ask the candidate, "are you willing to enter into an obligation to keep secret all that may transpire during your initiation?" If he assents, the Outside Conductor shall require from him the following:
"I hereby pledge my sacred honor that I will keep secret whatever transpires during my initiation,"
Noble Grand: Secretary, have any candidates been elected to become members of this lodge by initiation?
Should there be more than one candidate, change text throughout the ceremony from singular to plural.
Secretary: Noble Grand, … reading name in full, has been elected to become a member of this lodge by initiation.
Secretary hands two cards hearing name of candidate in full to Noble Grand, who will retain one of these cards during Ceremony.
Noble Grand: Warden, handing card to that officer retire to the anteroom and see if this candidate is in waiting.
Warden, hearing wand, retires in form and re-enters in form, and reports from center of floor.
Warden: Noble Grand, … reading name of candidate in full is in the anteroom, awaiting the ceremony of initiation.
Warden advances to chair of Noble Grand, returns card to that officer, and resumes his station.
Noble Grand: Brother , Past Grand, I appoint you Outside Conductor.
The Outside Conductor will advance to the chair of the Noble Grand, receive from that officer the card bearing the name of the candidate, and the question book, then proceed to the center of the floor and face the Noble Grand.
Noble Grand: Outside Conductor, retire to the anteroom, receive the candidate, propound the questions laid down in the ritual, and record his answers. Require him to subscribe to the truth of those answers, and attest his signature with your own. You will then administer the primary obligation, and await further instructions.
Outside Conductor retires in form and performs duties assigned to him. For primary obligation see the preceding.
If officers retire to robe, the following form between lines may be used.
Noble Grand: The officers will proceed to robe for initiation. During their absence, Brother , Past Grand, will officiate as Noble Grand; Brother , Past Grand, as Vice Grand; and Brother as Inside Guardian. The officers will retire.
Lodge is called up when the officers retire and re-enter.
Officers retire and re-enter in procession, without form.
Noble Grand seats the lodge.
Noble Grand: Warden, prepare the lodge-room for initiation.
Warden ascertains that chains and scene, candles or torches, and brothers who are to participate in procession, are in readiness, that ode cards have been distributed, and reports from his station.
Warden: Noble Grand, the lodge-room is prepared for initiation.
Noble Grand: Inside Guardian, request the Outside Conductor to enter and report.
Inside Guardian retires and re-enters without form.
Outside Conductor enters in form and reports from center of floor.
Outside Conductor: Noble Grand, I have propounded the questions to the candidate and recorded his answers. I have required him to subscribe to the truth of those answers, and attested his signature with my own. I have administered the primary obligation. The candidate awaits your pleasure.
Outside Conductor advances to station of the Noble Grand, hands card and question-book to that officer, returns to center of floor and faces Noble Grand.
Noble Grand: Outside Conductor, you will prepare the candidate for initiation and conduct him into the lodge-room.
Outside Conductor retires in form.
Noble Grand calls up lodge.
Noble Grand: Vice Grand, I place the lodge in your official charge until the candidate is introduced to me.
Vice Grand seats the lodge.
The Outside Conductor shall blindfold the candidate, approach the inner door with him and give the alarm.
Inside Guardian, opening wicket: Who comes there?
Outside Conductor, speaks in a low tone, so as to be heard in the lodge-room only by the Inside Guardian.
Outside Conductor: The Outside Conductor, with a candidate for initiation.
Inside Guardian advances to center of floor.
Inside Guardian: Vice Grand, the Outside Conductor, with a candidate for initiation.
Vice Grand: Admit them.
Inside Guardian returns to his station.
Inside Guardian, opening door: You have permission to enter.
The door being opened, and the room partially darkened, the candidate shall be received at the threshold, by the Conductor, in a dignified and courteous manner, and advanced a few paces into the lodge-room.
The Scene Supporters shall accompany the candidate, with the Conductor, around the room from the time he is admitted and until he is introduced to the Noble Grand; but at no time shall the Warden accompany the Conductor with the candidate.
The Conductor and Scene Supporters shall bear staffs.
Conductor: You are now within a lodge of Odd Fellows. Here the World is shut out you are separated from its cares and distinctions, its dissensions and its vices. Here friendship and love assert their mild dominion, while faith and charity combine to bless the mind with peace and soften the heart with sympathy. Those who surround you have all assumed the obligations and endeavor to cherish the sentiments peculiar to Odd Fellowship.
Before you can unite with them, you must pass through an initiatory ceremony, which will lead you to primary truth. Are you willing to proceed?
Conductor: Be patient, and firm. Brothers! the candidate awaits our mystic rites.
Right Scene Supporter: Then at once the chains prepare.
Left Scene Supporter: The chains are here! Entwine their links about him!
Reaching the chains and assisting in placing them.
Conductor: Man, in darkness and in chains!
How mournful the sight! This is the condition of millions of our race, who are void of wisdom, though they know it not. We have a lesson to impart to him one of great moment and deep solemnity; a faithful exhibition of the vanity of worldly things of the instability of wealth and power of the certain decay of all earthly greatness.
A procession may be formed, which passes slowly around the darkened room, in the following order:
Two brothers, wearing black gowns and black turbans, each bearing a lighted candle or a lighted torch.
Right Scene Supporter
Scene, borne by four brothers, wearing black gowns and black hoods or cowls.
Left Scene Supporter.
Two brothers, wearing black gowns and black turbans, each bearing a lighted candle or lighted torch.
Outside Conductor, escorting candidate bound in chains.
A gong may be slowly and lightly sounded, a bell tolled, or solemn music lightly played or sung, while the procession is moving around the room.
The Outside Conductor shall, at some point, stop and open the blindfold to permit the candidate to observe a portion of the procession.
The procession now forms about the scene. The following order should be observed as far as practicable: Scene in center of floor, head toward station of Noble Grand; Conductor at one side, facing scene and Past Grand; candidate on opposite side, facing scene and Chaplain; the Outside Conductor stands behind the candidate; Right Scene Supporter at head, Left Scene Supporter at foot, a torch bearer at each of the four corners, facing center of scene; scene bearers one pace in rear of torch bearers. The Outside Conductor begins to take off the blindfold, the Conductor saying at the same time:
Conductor: Be serious, for our lesson is as melancholy as it is truthful. The blindfold being off. Observe a representation of the effect of death! That silent, yet impressive lecturer to vice, confusion; but to virtue, peace—is all that remains on earth of one who was born as you were born; who lived as you now live; who for many days enjoyed his possessions, his power, and his pleasures. But now, nothing is left of him except that sad memorial of man's mortality. The warm heart that throbbed for other's woes, or the cold one that held no sympathy, has deteriorated and joined its kindred dust! Contemplate the scene!
The following dirge or other appropriate song may be sung. During the singing all members surrounding the scene should kneel, the candidate alone to remain standing:
"Lord of all below, above,"
God of friendship, truth, and love;
May the lessons we impart
Be impressed on ev'ry heart.
In this emblem sad, we see
Proof of man's mortality,
All his pleasures and his pow'r
Fade and wither in an hour.
This great truth may we receive
" 'Tis not all of life to live;"
To our souls, this truth apply,
" 'Tis not all of life to die/
Members kneeling will rise.
Conductor: Should it not humble human pride? Should it not awake the soul to a just sense of responsibility to its God—of duty to itself? And m view of this, the common lot of all, should it not enlist the tenderest of human sympathies? My friend, that gloomy monitor is but an emblem of what you are sure to be, and what you may soon become. Seriously meditate the solemn admonition it affords; ponder it well, and see that your own heart fosters not evil—the bane of society, the fountain of all wrong, the progenitor of crime, hatred, and violence, whose consequences must continue to afflict mankind until that period, to which hope looks forward with ardent joy, when one law shall bind all nations, tongues, and kindreds of the earth—and that law will be the law of universal brotherhood.
Solemn music may be sung or played.
Right Scene Supporter: I have seen the rose in its beauty spread its leaves to the morning sun. I returned, and it was dying upon the stalk. Its grace and form were gone; its loveliness was vanished away; its leaves were scattered to the ground, and no one gathered them again. I have seen man in the pride of his strength; his cheeks glowed with beauty; his limbs were full of activity; he walked, he ran, he leaped, he rejoiced in that he was more excellent than the rose. I returned, and life was departed from him, and the breath from out of his nostrils. Death is in the world, and the spoiler is among the works of the Almighty.
All that is born must die.
Solemn music may be sung or played.
Left Scene Supporter: I have seen the leaves fall and lie thick upon the ground; I have heard the wintry blasts sing sad requiems over their decay; yet spring came, the soft zephyrs played among the branches; they budded forth again, and in the place of death there was life, beauty, and joy.
Solemn music may be sung or played, or the following prayer may be recited by the Chaplain:
Chaplain: Let us pray. Almighty and Supreme Ruler of Heaven and Earth, with reverence we come into your presence in behalf of each friend now about to unite with this Order, and dedicate his life to works of charity, love, and peace. We beg you to guard him from all the perils of his way. May you continue to watch over him in the hours of darkness and of light. May he consecrate himself to Your service and to the cause of humanity as he assumes the obligations of this brotherhood. Create in him a generous, self-sacrificing spirit. May the helpless, the widow, and the fatherless never appeal to him in vain.
May friendship, love, and truth be the sentiment of his heart and the practice of his life.
May he live Your law, the law which commands us to do unto others as we would that they should do unto us. When after a life well spent on earth, he shall pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and cross the silent river to join the loved ones gone before, may he meet You, his Father, and hear the welcome plaudit, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of Thy Lord."
As the music or recital closes, the Outside Conductor blindfolds the candidate.
Conductor: You may think it strange, my friend, that we blindfold you; its symbolic purpose will be fully explained.
The procession reforms in original order and slowly passes around the room. The scene bearers, with scene, and the torch bearers withdraw from the procession and quietly leave the room, The Conductor, Scene Supporters, and Outside Conductor arrive at the Warden's chair.
The formation at the Warden's chair should be as follows:
Conductor stands nearly in front of the chair of the Noble Grand and faces the Warden. The Scene Supporters, when about three paces from the Warden's chair, march to the right and to the left, and then face to the front, so as to allow the Outside Conductor with candidate to advance to a position directly in front of and about three paces from the Warden. The candidate stands in line with the Scene Supporters, and the Outside Conductor stands bebind the candidate.
The Outside Conductor removes the blindfold.
Conductor: This is our venerable Warden.
Listen attentively to what he may say.
The candidate must not be prompted to touch the Warden, nor is the Warden permitted to touch the candidate. Care must be taken to avoid anything that might be repulsive.
Warden: How old are you?
Warden: What is your trade or profession?
Warden: Can you keep a secret?
Warden: Will you?
Warden: Be serious, while I address you as a man. Listen to the voice of wisdom, speaking from age and experience, and let it sink deep into your heart. These trembling limbs and this wrinkled brow show that the weight of years is upon me. I have seen years, and many changes have passed before me. A wise man has said, "I have been young and now am old, but never have I seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." I would impress this upon your mina; and add another maxim, which I ask you to heed, and be wise. It is this: In the practice of friendship, love, and truth will be found the best safeguard against the ills of life. Forget it not! Forget it not!
Conductor, present the candidate to the Vice Grand for obligation.
The Outside Conductor then blindfolds the candidate, and the procession reforms in the same order as it arrived at the Warden's chair, and, under the escort of the Conductor, proceeds to the center of the floor, in a position facing the Vice Grand. The formation, in the center of the floor is the same as at the Warden's chair, except that the Conductor shall stand at the right of the line. As the Conductor addresses the Vice Grand, by his title, that officer and his supporters arise, his supporters cross their staffs over him and retain that position while the candidate is before the Vice Grand.
Conductor: Vice Grand, I present the candidate for obligation.
Vice Grand: Will you promise never to make known the secrets of this Order to anyone, unless directed to do so by our laws?
Vice Grand: Restore him to light and liberty.
Before the blindfold is removed, the lodge-room must be made light again.
The Conductor takes his position at the right of the candidate. The Outside Conductor removes the chain and blindfold and retires to the anteroom or resumes his seat in the lodge.
Vice Grand: It is my duty to administer to you a solemn and binding obligation which will not conflict with any of those duties you owe to your God, your country, your family, or yourself. With this assurance, are you willing to take the obligation?
Vice Grand calls up the lodge.
Vice Grand: Place your right hand on your left breast, and repeat after me:
I, give your name, do solemnly promise that I will never communicate to anyone, unless directed to do so by a legal lodge, the passwords, signs, or grip belonging to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; nor will I expose or lend any books or records belonging to the Order, to any person, except to one specially authorized to receive them; that I will never reveal any private business which may be transacted in a lodge. I also promise, that I will abide by the laws, rules and regulations of this lodge, or any lodge to which I may be attached.
I further promise, that I will never wrong a Lodge or a member to the value of anything; nor will I participate in, or knowingly permit any illegal distribution of the funds or other property of a lodge; but will, to the best of my ability, endeavor to prevent the same. And I hereby pledge myself to help and support my afflicted or persecuted brother, and to warn him of approaching danger. I will point out his advantage and interest, where they do not conflict with the rights of others, and should I ever leave the Order, I will consider this promise to be fully binding. To the faithful performance of all which, I pledge my sacred honor.
Vice Grand seats the lodge.
Vice Grand: You have now entered into a society that is far more important than you may at first imagine. It conforms to law, religion, and sound morality, and does not permit anything contrary to the allegiance we owe to our country, or the duty we owe to ourselves. 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; so that, by your example, you may convince the world that good faith and virtue are the peculiar characteristics of a true Odd Fellow; for, according to our laws, we can be Odd Fellows only while we act like honest men.
Conductor, proceed with our friend to the desk of the Secretary, where he will sign the members' register of this lodge. You will then introduce him to the Noble Grand as a candidate qualified to receive instruction in the mysteries of this degree.
The Conductor, with the candidate at his side, and followed by the Scene Supporters, proceeds around the room until the desk of the Secretary is reached. The candidate signs the members' register. The procession is reformed in the same order at the desk of the Secretary, and will proceed slowly around the room, during which time the following ode may be sung,
As the procession moves, the Right and Left Supporters of the Noble Grand (bearing staffs) take positions, as if on guard, in front of their stations, standing in front of the Noble Grand.
Vice Grand calls up lodge.
The procession will conclude by marching from the Vice Grand's station to the center of the floor. The formation in the center of the floor should be as follows: Conductor at right of candidate, Right Scene Supporter at the right of the Conductor, Left Scene Supporter at left of candidate; all in single line, facing Noble Grand's station.
Stranger, you've naught to fear,
For honor's court is here
Love, peace, and joy;
Here in good faith we meet,
Here friends and brothers greet,
And in communion sweet
The hours employ.
Stranger, amidst a band
Of brothers, here you stand,
Firm, tried, and true;
Here friendship's power is shown,
Here love and truth are known,
And here, before their throne,
We welcome you.
The Noble Grand rises and his supporters cross their staffs over him.
Conductor: Noble Grand, I introduce to … giving name in full has been obligated, has signed the members' register of this lodge, and now seeks instruction in the mysteries of this degree.
Noble Grand seats the lodge.
The word "brother," as applied to the candidate, is now used for the first time in this ceremony.
Noble Grand's Charge
Noble Grand: My brother, for by that name you are now privileged to be hailed, as Noble Grand of … Lodge No. …, of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, I welcome you to its membership.
May you ever be a true and loyal brother faithful to every tenet of our Order!
The moral precepts which govern us, and according to which we would have all men regulate their conduct, are the laws of God, May those laws be indelibly engraved upon your heart, and may they guide and direct your daily walk of life!
The Conductor, with candidate, advances directly to the chair of the Noble Grand. As the Conductor and candidate leave the center of the floor, the Scene Supporters about face and return to their stations. The Scene Supporters and Supporters of the Noble Grand deposit staffs and resume their seats simultaneously. After these officers are seated, the Noble Grand proceeds.
Noble Grand, addressing the candidate: I will communicate to you the password of the current term.
Noble Grand communicates password in a whisper and requires candidate to repeat it. The Noble Grand should, at this time present the candidate with a copy of the constitution and by-laws. The Conductor, with candidate, returns to center of floor, and the Noble Grand proceeds: The password of the current term is changed at the beginning of each term, and is given to members in good standing. It is used when visiting lodges within the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of ….
The annual traveling password is changed on the first of January of each year, and is communicated to members only when dues are paid in advance. It is used in connection with an unexpired card or official certificate, when visiting lodges in any jurisdiction under The Sovereign Grand Lodge.
The interfraternal password is communicated under the same conditions as the annual password. It is used in connection with an official certificate, showing dues paid in advance, and the interfraternal sign, when visiting Regular lodges of the Manchester Unity.
All passwords are to be communicated in a whisper.
A member who is npt in good standing is deprived of the privilege of visiting other lodges, and loses the social and fraternal relations which would otherwise be his as an Odd Fellow.
We will proceed to instruct you in the mysteries of the initiatory degree of this Order.
First, the entersign.
Second, the password of the initiatory degree.
Third, the countersign, its answer, and explanation.
Fourth, the Odd Fellow's grip.
The Noble Grand instructs, according to the Unwritten Work, in: the entersign, password of the initiatory degree; the countersign, its answer and explanation; and the Odd Fellow's grip. The Conductor and Candidate then advance directly to the chair of the Noble Grand. The Candidate receives the grip from the Noble Grand and, while giving it, that officer shall say:
Noble Grand: My brother, this grip has always been honored by every true Odd Fellow, and we hope and trust it always will be by you.
Conductor and Candidate return to center of floor.
Noble Grand: In all lodges there is an outer and an inner door, and between them an anteroom. At the outer door there is stationed an Outside Guardian, and at the inner door an Inside Guardian.
Wishing to visit a lodge, in this jurisdiction, which is open in the initiatory degree, you will announce your presence at the outer door by giving one rap or two raps of the …if there be one; but any alarm will be attended to.
The Outside Guardian will open the wicket and require from you the password of the current term, which must be given in full. If given correctly, you will be admitted to the anteroom.
You will clothe yourself in the regalia appropriate to your rank and station in the lodge, which for the present will be a white collar, or badge, advance to the inner door and give ….
The Inside Guardian will open the wicket and obtain from you your name and rank, and the name and number of the lodge to which you belong.
The Inside Guardian will close the wicket and inform the Vice Grand, who, if he is satisfied, will direct the Inside Guardian to admit you, if correct. The Inside Guardian will reopen the wicket, and you must communicate to him, in the manner in which you have been instructed, the password of the initiatory degree. If correct, the Inside Guardian will admit you, when you will advance to the center of the floor and address the Vice Grand with the countersign, who will acknowledge you as a brother by giving the same countersign. You will then be seated.
Wishing to leave the lodge before it is closed in the initiatory degree, you will advance to the center of the floor and address the Vice Grand with the countersign, and that officer will answer you with the proper sign. The Inside Guardian will then permit you to depart.
Wishing to visit a lodge in another jurisdiction, you will deliver to the Outside Guardian an unexpired card or official certificate, properly signed and sealed, which will admit you to the anteroom. You will communicate to a member of the examining committee, in a whisper, the annual traveling password, which must be lettered alternately, you to commence with the first or any letter of the word, the examining brother to respond with the next letter, and so proceed until the word is completed.
You will be required to give the explanation of the annual traveling password in full and in a whisper. You must pass an examination in the work of the Order, satisfactory to the committee. Then, after clothing yourself in appropriate regalia, you will be conducted into the lodge, where, after addressing the Chair, you will be introduced and welcomed as a brother.
You will give me the countersign and I will respond with the answer.
After a satisfactory rehearsal, the Noble Grand shall say: Without being in possession of the entersign and countersign you cannot gain admittance into this or any other lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows which is open in the initiatory degree. Be observant that you acquire them, and be careful that you do not improperly reveal them. Remember! you have given us your pledge of honor a pledge which is the most binding of any that can be given or received. We feel confident that you will keep it inviolate.
Conductor, present the candidate to our worthy Chaplain f or admonition.
Conductor and candidate face the Chaplain from the center of the floor.
Conductor: Worthy Chaplain, I present the candidate for admonition.
Chaplain: My brother, you have been admitted into this lodge by a form of initiation, in which there is deep significance. You were blindfolded to represent to you the darkness and doubt through which man gropes his way to a knowledge of himself, his duty, and his destiny; a darkness not only of reason, but of the moral nature; and you were bound with chains, to illustrate that slavery of soul to sense, that subjection to things outward and perishable, into which man is brought by his own passions. You were then led to a scene where an emblem of mortality was exhibited, to represent the end of this servitude; to remind you of the insignificant and perishable nature of all those outward objects that so often excite man's passionate ambition. After this representation, you were restored to light and liberty. One of these acts is emblematic of that liberty which the virtuous enjoy when conscious of being disenthralled from sensuality and passion; the other is emblematic of the light of that truth which reveals to us love as the grand remedy for all social evils— as it is, indeed, the foundation of all good toward God or man. In this light we trust you will ever walk; this liberty we hope you will ever maintain.
It will be our duty, as Brothers, to aid you in so doing. We claim the privilege, of watching over your conduct, in the lodge-room, and in your intercourse with the world at large. As you come in contact with those who represent every vocation and calling in life, we admonish you to observe and to remember, as one of the lessons taught by Odd Fellowship, that men are not always to be taken for what they appear. One may have a rough, unseemly exterior, but a good, true heart within; while another, possessing a captivating person and manner, may be destitute of all genuine principle. Heed well this admonition.
Conductor, present the candidate to the Acting Past Grand for the charge of this degree.
The Conductor, with candidate, passes around the room and then faces the Past Grand, Solemn music may be played .or sung during procession.
Conductor: Worthy Past Grand, I present the candidate for the charge of this degree.
Past Grand: My brother, you are now recognized as a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Odd Fellowship is progressive. You have been initiated and are ready to advance step by step to a knowledge of its objectives and intrinsic value; its ability to promote goodwill among men, and its fitness as minister to the adversities of life.
Odd Fellowship recognizes man as a part of one universal brotherhood and teaches him to cherish and protect his fellow-man. It presents a broad platform upon which mankind may unite in human benefits. Under this influence, all nations of the earth may concentrate their energies for the common good. The tolerance of Odd Fellowship presents a nucleus which gathers within its orbit persons of diverse opinions, controls the elements of discord, stills the storm and soothes the spirit of passion and harmoniously directs man's united efforts to fraternize the world.
We call this first principle of Odd Fellowship ─ fraternity ─ a universal fraternity in the family of man. Our forefathers wisely made this principle the cornerstone of Odd Fellowship. Upon this solid base the Order securely rests and will repose until the end of time. From this principle we learn to regard the Author of our existence as our Father and to recognize each other as the offspring of the same Parent and our brother. As Odd Fellows we practice this brotherhood by helping each other in sickness, in health, in adversity.
Our Order does not believe in the divisions and classifications of society. It teaches veneration for religion and subordination to civil government and its laws but avoids all affinity with systems of faith or sect, whether religious or political. It requires no sacrifice of your opinions, no change in your relations to the state and no loosening of the obligations which you owe to the laws and institutions under which you live. To become an Odd Fellow in spirit and in truth, you must be grateful to your Creator, faithful to your country and fraternal to your fellow-man.
We meet in the lodge-room with pure hearts and clean hands for mutual counsel, the relief of distress and the elevation of human character. Strife, discord, party and sect, which cause ill will and divisions among men, are disallowed by our laws. If a brother permits evil influences to control his actions and violates any of these laws, he must pay the penalty. We work against vice in all its forms; Friendship toward man prompts the contest the gentle influences of Love supply the weapons Truth consecrates the effort and leads to victory.
These are some of the principles of Odd Fellowship. Its objects you will more clearly understand as you advance in the Order.
If you became a member believing that Odd Fellowship is a mere beneficial society, having for its single purpose the relief of its members in their struggles of life if you joined this brotherhood from the promptings of idle curiosity, be at once undeceived. Mutual relief is a leading office of our association. "To visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan" is the command of our laws, and a duty which we require. These are only a tithe of the real virtues of Odd Fellowship.
We seek to improve and elevate the character of man; to imbue him with proper conceptions of his capabilities for good; to enlighten his mind; to enlarge the field of his affections. Our aim is to lead man to the culmination of the true, fraternal relation designed by the Great Author of his being.
My brother, I greet you as a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and welcome you to a world-wide united brotherhood. May the principles of Odd Fellowship always excite you to greater achievements for the benefit of humanity and your community.
Past Grand: Conductor, proceed with the candidate to our Noble Grand.
Conductor presents candidate to Noble Grand from center of floor.
Conductor: Noble Grand, I present the candidate.
Noble Grand: Warden, that officer rises take charge of the candidate, retire without form to the anteroom, clothe him with a white collar, or badge, give him necessary instruction, and leave him to work his way into the lodge.
Warden, bearing wand, retires with candidate, without form.
Conductor resumes his station.
The Warden, after complying with directions of the Noble Grand, will re-enter, in form, and await the candidate at the door. The candidate will work his way into the lodge by giving the alarm and the password of the initiatory degree. The Warden and candidate will proceed to the center of the floor, and both will address the Vice Grand with the countersign, who will answer with the countersign.
The Vice Grand must insist that the countersign be given correctly.
The Warden and candidate then face the Noble Grand.
Noble Grand: My brother, I congratulate you on working your way into this lodge. I will now give you f mal instructions in this degree.
First, The Voting Sign.
Second, The Interfraternal Sign and Answer.
Third, The Honors of the Order.
Noble Grand instructs as above according to the Unwritten Work.
Noble Grand: You will now participate with the members in illustrating the Honors of the Order.
Noble Grand calls up the lodge.
As Warden leaves candidate, the Scene Supporters advance and stand to his right and left.
The Honors of the Order are exemplified according to the Unwritten Work but verbal instructions need not be repeated.
Noble Grand: The Honors of the Order are given to elective Officers of all recognized Grand Bodies of the Order, when visiting an Odd Fellow lodge officially or when introduced with an official visitor. They may be given to a District Deputy Grand Master when officially representing the Grand Master.
The following charges are optional
Noble Grand: Brother, you have completed the initiatory degree and will soon be seated with your brothers in the lodge. Before this occurs, however, the Conductor will present you to the Vice Grand for a recapitulation of this degree.
Conductor: Vice Grand, By order of the Noble Grand, I present this brother for a recapitulation of the initiatory degree.
Vice Grand: My brother, the degree you have just received originated over one hundred and fifty years ago. The words and phrases used in the degree are beautiful and timeless, and will always remain as a landmark of our Order. Much of the language used then, however, is difficult for us to understand now.
It is therefore my pleasant duty to offer you a brief summary of the initiatory degree, in the language of our age.
When you first entered the lodge tonight, the Conductor said to you, "Here the world is shut out—Here friendship and love assert their mild dominion." These words tell you, in essence, the true meaning of Odd Fellowship.
You were reminded of the certainty of death, and the necessity for a useful and moral life.
Life is fleetingly short. The Warden advised you, "In the practice of Friendship, Love and Truth will be found the best safeguards against the ills of life." What more do you need, my brother, to lead a useful and happy life, than Friendship, Love and Truth?
The Noble Grand has communicated to you the mysteries of the Order. If you have difficulty in remembering them, further instruction will be freely given at any future meeting.
You have learned from the charges given you that Odd Fellowship seeks to make this a better world in which to live—not only for our fraternity, but for all of mankind.
As you progress in our Order, you will see this degree presented many times, and be able to appreciate more fully its meaning and significance. For tonight, take with you the thought that "Here the world is shut out. Here, friendship and love assert their mild dominion."
Conductor, you will present our brother to the Noble Grand.
Conductor: Noble Grand, the brother has returned.
End of optional charges.
Noble Grand: One blow of the gavel giving it calls the lodge to order, or seats the members; three blows giving them call up the lodge.
Noble Grand: Officers and brothers, I introduce to you Brother … giving name in full, and commend him to your friendship and protection.
The Noble Grand may declare a short recess, and invite the officers and members to individually welcome the new member.
Noble Grand seats the lodge or calls it to order.
Noble Grand: The other degrees of an Odd Fellow Lodge are: First, or Degree of Friendship; Second, or Degree of Brotherly Love; Third, or Degree of Truth. They teach the principles of Odd Fellowship which you must know before you can enjoy all the privileges of Odd Fellowship. We urge you to qualify for these degrees as quickly as possible.
The Scene Supporters will escort the new member to a seat and then resume their stations.
If the Officers retire to disrobe, the following form may be used:
Noble Grand: The officers will retire. During their absence, Brother …, Past Grand, will officiate as Noble Grand; Brother …, Past Grand, as Vice Grand; and Brother … as Inside Guardian.
The lodge is called up when the officers retire and when they re-enter.
The officers retire and re-enter in procession.
Noble Grand seats the lodge.
Noble Grand: Officers and brothers I will thank you to arise and assist me in closing the lodge.
The Noble Grand calls up the lodge.
The following ode, and no other, may be sung.
Brothers, we thank you all
For this your friendly call,
Our hearts to cheer;
May peace her influence shed,
And heaven its wings outspread,
To guard each brother's head
From pain and f ear.
Good night! and, as you go,
Bear hence and fully show,
Stamped on your breasts,
The seal of friendship pure,
And love through life t'endure,
And truth, which still secure
With honor rests.
The following form shall be used and the Noble Grand shall say:
Noble Grand: Let us unite with our Chaplain in prayer.
Chaplain: Let us pray. Almighty Father, we pray You to bless whatever of good we have accomplished at this time, and forgive what we have done amiss. We now commend ourselves to Your care and protection. The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord lift up His fatherly countenance upon us, and give us peace, now and evermore. Amen.
Noble Grand: Vice Grand, perform the last duty of your station.
Vice Grand: The Brothers will join with me in repeating the Valediction.
I am an Odd Fellow
I believe in the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of man:
I believe in Friendship, Love and Truth as basic guides to the ultimate destiny of all mankind:
I believe my home, my church or temple, my lodge, and my community deserve my best work, my modest pride, my earnest faith, and my deepest loyalty, as I perform my duty "to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead, and educate the orphan" and as I work with others to build a better world because, in spirit and in truth, I am, and must always be, grateful to my Creator, faithful to my Country and fraternal to my fellow man:
I am an Odd Fellow!
Vice Grand: Brothers, we thank you for your attendance, and urge you to be present at future meetings.
The Noble Grand is personally responsible for the safe keeping of rituals and shall see that all are accounted for and a record made in the minutes of the meeting.
Noble Grand: Inside Guardian, as soon as the lodge is closed you will open the door, that the brothers may depart.
Inside Guardian: I will Noble Grand.
Where the flag has been presented, it should also be retired.
In Jurisdictions where no specific details have been prescribed for floor work or charges, the following ceremony may be used.
Noble Grand: The Warden, (or Color Bearer), accompanied by …, (names escort), will retire with the flag and deposit it for safe keeping.
The aforementioned officers will form in front of the Noble Grand's station. The designated officer will retrieve the flag from its receptacle and rejoin the escort after which the detail will march together to the anteroom.
When the flag detail has returned, the Noble Grand will continue:
Noble Grand: Right Supporter, perform the last duty of your station.
Right Supporter: I proclaim this lodge closed until next lodge meeting, at …o'clock, when it will be opened for the transaction of business, and for the diffusion of benevolence and charity.
Noble Grand: I declare this lodge closed.
Giving one rap of the gavel, which is repeated by the Vice Grand.