National Grand Order of the United Brothers of
the African Race of America
Initiation Ritual of the First Degree
Form of Opening
At the proper hour, the H. P. takes her seat and gives one rap. This calls the Castle to order, and then she shall say: Officers, brothers, and sisters, regal. We are about to open … Castle No. …·
All persons who are not brothers and sisters will please retire.
H. P. to H. Marshal: Brother (or Sister) H. Marshal, you will please get the password in the …
degree, and report.
H. M. to H. P.: Sister H. P., I have visited all persons that are present and find all in possession of the password (except …, naming the person or persons that have not the password.)
If there are any who have not the password, the H.M. stands them before the altar.
H. P.: Thank you, Sister H. M. You will give notice to the O. G. that we are about to open and to guard the outer door. Allow no one to pass in without the password.
H. M. returns, advances to the altar and says: Sister H. P., the Castle is guarded by, a
sister with full instructions.
H. P.: Thank you.
Three raps, the members all rise and form a circle around the altar. The Chaplain stands in front of the altar and sings:
Blest be the tie that binds,
Our hearts in Christian Love;
The fellowship of kindred minds,
Is like to that above.
Before our Father's throne,
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims, are one,
Our comforts and our cares.
We share our mutual woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And of ten for each other flows
The sympathizing tear;
When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.
After the hymn is sung, the H. P. says: Sister H. Chaplain, will you please pray?
At the close of the prayer all the members raise and lower their hands and repeat the words: Amen, Amen, Amen.
H. P.: Officers and members, repair to your stations and remain standing.
The H. P. then will repeat Psalm 133 as follows: 1. Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
2. It is like the precious ointment upon the head,
that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard:
that went down to the skirts of his garments;
3. As the dew or Herman, and as the dew that
descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the
Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.
V. H. P.: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. Amen, Amen, Amen.
Members all repeat after V.H. P.
H. P.: Sister Senior ·warden, how is the North?
S. W.: The North is ready for business.
H. P.: Sister Junior Warden, how is the South?
J. W.: The South is ready for business.
H. P. gives one rap and calls down the Castle.
H. P.: Brothers and Sisters, I, acting H. P., declare … Castle No. … now open for business, and will proceed to the business of the evening.
Sister Scribe, please call the roll for monthly and benevolent dues.
H. P.: Sister Scribe, you will please read the minutes of the last meeting.
H. P.: Brothers and Sisters, you have heard the minutes. Shall they stand approved?
The candidate having paid his or her initiation fee, the Marshal returns inside the Castle.
H. M.: Sister H. P., all is ready.
H. P.: Sisters and Brothers, Mrs. (Miss, or Mr.) … has been duly balloted for and elected a member of this Castle. I therefore recommend her as a candidate.
The candidate is seated in an outer room, with bandage over eyes. The Porter gives three raps.
I. G.: Brother (or Sister) H. P., I hear an unusual rap at the door.
H. P.: Who cometh thou, to disturb the peace of this meeting?
I. G.: A lost child of the African Race.
H. P.: Admit him (or her).
The Porter with candidate marches around in the hall three times, and all sing "I Am a Child of the King." The candidate is led to the altar.
V. H. P.: Do you want to live in union, peace, and harmony, and have the protection of King David's Castle?
Candidate: I do.
V. H. P.: Sister (or Brother) Porter, you may conduct the candidate to the H. P. for the obligation.
H. Porter: Sister H. P., I bring to you the candidate to take the obligation.
H. P.: Mr. (Mrs., or Miss) … you are now in position to take upon yourself the obligation of a member of this Castle. If you are willing to take it, repeat your name and say after me:
I, …, do solemnly promise and swear, in the presence of the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and the witnesses around me assembled, that I will never reveal any of the symbols, signs, passwords, grips, proceedings, or plans, of this or any other Castle of the Order of the United Brothers of the African Race of America, which I may here receive, or which hereafter may be imparted to me, unless it be to a sister or brother of the Order, known to me as such after due trial and test in conferring this degree upon me.
I furthermore promise and swear, that I will defend to the extent of my ability the principles of equal civil and religious rights to all men who owe allegiance to the spirit of liberty on American soil.
I further swear, that I will aid and defend any and all worthy members of the Order, when called to their assistance by our Hailing Cry of Distress, and give aid and assistance to a sister or brother in sickness or distress, so far as my means will permit.
I further promise, that I will be governed and ruled by the laws and regulations of this Grand Order.
I will obey the gavel and not expose any of the secrets that are given to me.
I further promise to recognize in the dark and the light the sign of a distressed brother or sister, and fly to their rescue.
And, should I fail to fulfill this obligation, may my body be torn into pieces and scattered to the four corners of the earth, should I willfully violate this my obligation, O, Lord.
H. P.: Sister (or Brother) …, you have taken the oath of allegiance, and upon, the symbols of our faith, resting on that altar before you, and in the presence of these witnesses, you have sworn to protect and defend the principles of this Order, and upon your ladyship to never reveal any of the secrets of this Castle, unless duly authorized to do so by competent authority. Under the banner of the United Brothers of the African Race of America, you are enrolled as a member of this Castle.
Sister (or Brother), you have made known to this Order that you desire to become a member of the United Brothers of the African Race of America, and pledged yourself to keep our laws and walk in our statutes. I now declare you a member of the United Brothers of the African Race of America.
H. P.: Sister (or Brother), you see before you five Great Lights. They represent the base of our Order, the foundation upon which the Castle is built. We name them Friendship, Union, Peace, Harmony, and Love. This Order was established in Friendship's bond. Let Love rule all your actions toward a member of the Castle. Be good and true. By a Union of Love, Harmony, and Friendship, we expect to perpetuate our Order. Be always ready to advocate Peace between the members, teaching us that to be a benefit our Castle must have continued Harmony.
The Pass is given in this way, and is used as the grip in shaking hands, thus: Take all fingers in hands, thumbs meet. The password is, Who am I?
Is given in this way: Raise the right hand, back to the forehead, three times. This is used when you wish to consult a Sister or Brother to obtain information or advice.
The answer is thus: The left hand, palm to the forehead, three times. Then you go directly to the person, giving the grip. Should anyone be looking, you conceal the grip by placing the left hand over it, and say: "Who are you?" The answer is, "I am a child of the African Race of America."
Distress Call at night: "Sure as the Lord liveth, and thy soul liveth, there is hut a step between me and death."
The answer is: "Thy servant shall be in peace."
Warning of Danger: "If thou save not thy life tonight, tomorrow thou shalt be slain."
If you want to see a Sister or Brother, and want them to come to you, then write this notice on a piece of paper: "I. W. T. S. Y. N. " (I want to see you now) The one who receives this notice will come at once or send you an answer on paper: "I. A. C. T. S. Y. N. " (I am coming to see you now) This is used when you want to see a member on very urgent matters.
Lecture and Test for First Degree
The history of this degree is given by reading to the new member the following passages from the twentieth chapter of Samuel:
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the Lord, even require it at the hand of David's ·enemies. And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him; for he loved him as he loved his own soul. Then Jonathan said to David, tomorrow is the new moon; and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty. So David bid himself in the field; and when the new moon was come, the king sat him down to eat meat. And the king sat upon his seat, as at other times, even upon a seat by the wall; and Jonathan arose, and Abner sat by Saul's side, and David's place was empty.
Test of the First Degree
Question: Where were you when you were raised from the dead?
Answer: At the altar receiving the obligation.
Question: What did you see?
Answer: The officers of the African Race of America.
Question: Will you obey the laws and all regulations?
Answer: I will.
Question: Are you a child of the African Race of America?
Answer: I am.
Question: How am I to know you are?
Answer: By my arts and signs.
Question: Have you an art or sign by which I can identify you as a child of the African Race of America?
Answer: I have.
Question: Will you prove it to me?
Answer: I will, if you will assist me.
Question: Now give me the grip.
Take all fingers in hand. Thumbs meet. The first will seven.
Question: What is the meaning of seven?
Answer: It means there were seven golden stars in the hands of the Lord, and he stood in the midst of seven golden candlesticks.
Then when a Sister or Brother is in a place of danger, you give them the warning sign, thus: Tomorrow is the new moon, and thou shalt be missed, because thy seat shall be empty.
When a Sister or Brother is talking too much about another, or Lodge business, before the enemies of the Lodge, you warn them by saying: "The arrow is in front of you."
Hailing Sign: With a handkerchief in the right hand, by one corner, with thumb and index finger, raise it quickly three times, with arms stretched out in front of you. The Sister or Brother seeing this will answer: with a handkerchief in the left hand, by one corner, with thumb and index finger, raise it quickly three times with arm stretched out in front of you.
When you desire to call a Sister or Brother to notify them about some distressed member, stretch the left arm out in front of you, raise the right hand to form a square and lay it in the left elbow. The Sister or Brother seeing this will answer: Left hand in the right elbow.
Saluting sign when entering an open Castle is thus: Stand in front of the altar, put your right hand over your heart, bow your head and say to the H. P.: "My heart is in the world" The H. P. gives a slight bow, you then, turn to the V. H. P. and salute her, as you did the H. P. The V. H. P. will answer with a slight wave of the right hand.
We learn from I Chronicles, chapter 29, verse 29, that the life of David was written by Samuel, Nathan, and Gad. Also, it may be probably inferred that other information concerning him was contained in the poems of Jasher. The life of David naturally divides itself into three portions: (1) The time which he lived under Saul; (2) His reign over Judea in Hebron; (3) His reign over all Israel. The men of Ziph twice betrayed David to Saul, hut David twice spared Saul's life.
When a person is betraying a Brother or Sister to do them harm, you say to the Brother or Sister, "Ziph."
Ziph was the name given by David to the Castle of Zion, which he captured from the Jebusites, and in which he dwelt. It was on the southwest side of Jerusalem.
Bethlehem was called the "City of David," being the birthplace of the king.
So ends the First Degree.
H. P.: Sister Scribe, read the receipts of the evening
H. S. reads.
H. P.: It is now time to close this Castle.
H. P. gives three raps to call up.
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee;
E'en though it be a cross
That raiseth me;
Still all my song shall be,
Nearer, my God, to Thee;
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee.
Though like a wanderer,
The sun gone down,
Darkness be over me,
My rest a stone;
Yet, in my dreams I'd be,
Nearer, my God, to Thee;
Nearer, my God, to Thee,
Nearer to Thee.
H. P.: Sister (or Brother) H. Chaplain, please dismiss us by Benediction.
H. P.: I, H. P. of … Castle No. …, declare it closed until ….