The Chevaliers
Initiation Ritual of the Esquire’s Degree


Titles.-The Chevalier should always be addressed as "Noble Chevalier" The Past Chevalier as "Past Noble Chevalier".
All other officers "Worthy," as "Worthy Clerk,"" Worthy Chaplain," etc. Members should be addressed as" Chevalier."
Signals.-One rap of gavel calls Castle to order or seats when standing. Two raps calls up the officers. Three raps calls up the entire Castle.
Balloting.-Election of candidates shall be by ball ballot. The white balls elect, the black balls reject. If no more than three black balls appear the candidate is elected. If more than three he is rejected.
By direction of the Chevalier the Master at Arms prepares the ballot box. He then presents
it to the Chevalier who examines it, and says, "Chevaliers, you are now about to vote upon the application of … for membership in this Castle. Remember that the white balls elect and the black reject. Be careful that you vote for the good of this order." The Chevalier then deposits his ballot and the M at A. places the ballot box upon the Altar so that members face the Chevalier as they vote. M. at A. then steps back three paces and faces the Keeper with sword at "carry," while the members vote.
Beginning at the Chevalier's left the members march in order to the Altar, returning to their places after voting Music if desired.
Chevalier then says: "Have all voted; if so, I declare the ballot closed. Master at Arms, you will present the ballot." At the close of ballot the box must be presented to the Keeper of the Castle, who opens and examines. It is then taken to the Chevalier who also examines. Chevalier then asks: "Worthy Keeper of the Castle, how do you find the ballot? Keeper answers: "I find the ballot favorable (or unfavorable, as the case may be.) The Chevalier then says: "The ballot is favorable, and I declare … elected." But if more than three black balls appear the Chevalier shall order a new election, without questions, explaining that white elects and black rejects after which ballot the questions shall be asked as given.
Regalia.- The Master of the Robes is the proper custodian of the regalia. He should give out the Jewels and Badges at the opening of the meeting and collect them at the close. He should see that the Altar is duly prepared.
Appointments.-All officers not provided for in the Constitution and By-Laws shall be appointed by the Noble Chevalier.
Roll Call.-Herald respond for officers at Roll Call.
Officers should rise on being addressed and give salute.

At hour or opening officers and guards gather in reception room and robe themselves. When all are ready the Herald advances into Castle Hall and proclaims:
Hear ye, all Knights, and Ladies and Guests of ... Castle, No .... The hour of council has arrived. You will therefore take your places in due order and wait the coming of your officers; and all who are not qualified to remain will at once retire to the anteroom and await instructions.
Orchestra plays march. Guards enter escorting officers. March round the ball stopping at each station while officer takes his place. Seat Chevalier last. Guards perform march and form circle round the altar.
Chevalier, calls to order with one rap of gavel:
Worthy Keeper of the Castle, what is the hour?
One hour past sunset, Noble Chevalier.
Then order the Groom to make fast the outer gates; direct Sentinel and Warder to take their posts and see that none enter these castle walls except those who challenge us as friends and can give the knight's true sign.
Worthy Groom, you will make the outer rounds and prepare the Castle for the night.
Groom retires, returns and reports.
When Keeper orders Groom to make outer rounds Guards disperse to their stations, two by Chevalier, two by Keeper two by Past Chevalier two by Chaplain, one by Clerk, one by Bursar. two by Altar facing Chevalier. Guards stand during opening excercises and at close assemble at Altar and are dismissed by Chevalier, when they take their seats in front row, six on each side. King at-Arms seated at right of Chvalier.
Worthy Keeper, we are guarded well.
Noble Chevalier, our Castle is guarded.
How are we guarded, Worthy Keeper?
The drawbridge is up, the portcullis is down, the sentinel is on the wall and the warder stands by the inner gate.
It is well, Worthy Keeper, you will now prepare our hall for Council.
Worthy Master-at-Arms, you will take the Groom with you and make the inner rounds. See that none but friends are present, and that these have the badge and word of a Chevalier and can give the knight's true sign.
Master-at-Arms, advances with Groom in front of Keeper:
We are ready.
Have you the word of a Chevalier?
Master and Groom:
We have.
Report it.
Groom gives word to Master-at-Arms, and Master advances and gives to Keeper.
The word is right, proceed upon your mission.
Master and Groom face the Castle.
Worthy Master of the Robes are all present wearing the badge of a Chevalier by your permission.
Master of the Robes:
They are, Worthy Master-at-Arms.
Master and Groom collect the word from all but Chevalier and Keeper and face each other at their station.
Worthy Groom, are all true upon the Keeper's left?
All are true upon the left.
And all are true upon the right.
Master faces Castle, Groom faces Keeper.

Attention, Chevaliers all rise Together with the Knight's true sign all give sign.
Keeper seat Castle.
Master-at-Arms, facing Keeper:
Our duty has been performed and all is right.
Return to Stations.
Noble Chevalier, our hall is duly prepared
Worthy Keeper, it gives us pleasure to see you faithful in the discharge of duty. May you never forget that the safety of our Castle is always in your care.
Seats Keeper.

Worthy Chaplain, what is your teaching?
That we are always in the sight of Him who neither slumbers nor sleeps.
What are your duties?
To pray for us all in times of safety and of danger, to give help to the suffering, and to comfort the sorrowing.
Chevalier, calls up:
Chevaliers, in all the pride of life and station, it well becomes the true Knight to bow before the King of Kings.
Almighty Father, we bow before Thee in grateful acknowledgment of Thy sovereign power and the mercy that never faileth. Grant, O God, to remember us now for good. Bless our Order, we pray Thee; bless the purposes of this hour, and bless Thy children gathered before Thee. Give grace and comfort to the sorrowing, give wisdom and truth to us all, and lead us in the way everlasting, for Thy name's sake. Amen.
Opening Ode

TUNE "Autumn," Key "G."
Brethren, once again the summons
Calls us to our labors here;
Once again we claim protection
For the friends our hearts hold dear.
In the path where truest honor
All its brightest radiance flings,
May we help each other onward,
Guarded by the King of kings.
Worthy Herald, proclaim the opening
of this Castle of Chevaliers.

All things having been done in due form, I now by order of the Noble Chevalier, and by virtue of my office declare ... Castle No ... duly open, and do proclaim that here we meet as equals and that each shall be free in proper ways to participate in our labor.
Chevalier lays aside hat, and Castle is ready for business.

Esquire’s Degree
Worthy Keeper of the Castle, are there any candidates in waiting to receive the degree of Esquire?
Worthy Master at Arms, you will ascertain if there are any candidates in waiting to receive the degree of Esquire.
M-at-A. retires, returns and reports:
Worthy Keeper, I find ... in waiting to receive the degree of Esquire.
Noble Chevalier, Mr. … is without, ready to receive the degree of Esquire.
Worthy Clerk, has (or have) ... been duly elected to member ship in this Castle?
He has (or they have.)
Have the proper fees been paid?
They have, Noble Chevalier.
Worthy Herald, you will proclaim the temporary closing of this council, that we may confer the degree of Esquire.
Calls up.
Herald, flourish of bugle:
Hear ye, all companions. By order of the Noble Chevalier, I now proclaim this council closed and this Castle now open in the rank of Esquire for the conferring of degrees. Salute the chief.
All give military salute. Chevalier seats Castle. Bugle call.
Worthy Master at Arms, who challenges this Castle with sound of trumpet?
Master at Arms:
Noble Chevalier, that is the bugle of Sir Roland, who brings a young kinsman of his to be made an Esquire in our rank.
Meet him with gracious welcome and give him escort and entrance to our ball.
Master at Arms retiree and meets the candidate, whom he robes and blindfolds; King at Arms and Sir Walter, with two guards, march to the inner gate.
Sentinel, as they approach gate:
Halt! Who comes here?
Master at Arms:
Whether friends or foes you pass not this gate without the countersign.
Master at Arms gives countersign.
Then you are friends. Pass on.
Throws open inner gate
Stop! None may pass this portal save those who are brothers sworn and who can give the Knight's true sign:
M. and Sir Roland:
We are brothers sworn and this is the Knight's true sign.
Give sign.
It is well. But who is this who comes with darkened eyes, robed in the garments of an esquire?
Sir Roland:
This is a youth of good and ancient lineage, who comes to learn of duty, to prove his valor, to swear fealty to our Order, and henceforth to follow our banner on the fields of honor.
Is he of proper age?
Sir Roland:
He is.
Is he willing to serve and to learn:
Sir Roland:
He is.
Is he of good courage?
Sir Roland:
Time will show.
Let him pass on to the Noble Chevalier, who is already apprised of his approach.
March once around hall to keeper's station and approach altar in straight line.
Sir Roland:
My Noble Liege, I present you here a youth of knightly lineage who come to learn of duty, to prove his valor, to swear fealty to our Order, and henceforth to follow our banner on the fields of honor.
Is he of proper age?
Sir Roland:
He is.
Is he willing to serve and to learn?
Sir Roland:
He is.
Is he of good courage
Sir Roland:
Time will show.
Sir Roland, why can you not vouch for his courage?
Sir Roland:
Noble Chevalier, no man knows his courage till the hour of trial. This man may be as valiant as Lancelot himself, but he has never been put to the test, so I can only answer, Time will show.
Sir Roland, you are right, and this man must yet prove himself fit to be the companion of brave men. Mr. …, you have sought admission to our hall. You come well recommended by a worthy Chevalier. By the help of friends you have passed the Sentinel and the Warder of this Castle. Your further progress must be upon your own responsibility and by your own merit alone. Is it still your desire to become, in due and regular form, one of the company, who, unseen by you, are gathered about this altar?
It is.
Are you willing to take the fraternal obligation that all esquires before you have taken?
I am.
Brethren, you will all assist in this solemn rite.
Calls up the Castle. Advances to the front of altar. Guards form about the altar. Members form a double circle about them with officers inside.
You are now within the triple circle before our sacred altar. Kneel upon your right knee.
Master at Arms removes hoodwink.

Place your hands m mine and repeat after me: In the presence of God and this fellowship, I do solemnly promise and affirm that I will give fealty to the Order of Chevaliers; that in the line of duty I will obey its mandates, and that as far as I am able I will maintain its good name.
I promise that I will not knowingly wrong a Castle of this Order or any member thereof; but that I will protect the interests of a brother or sister as I would my own.
I promise that I will keep the secrets of this Order from all who are not entitled to them, that I will answer all due challenges, signs or summonses, and that I will to the best of my ability perform the duties of an Esquire as they shall be made known to me.
I furthermore promise that upon my part I will live in friendship with the members of this Castle, that I will be a loyal citizen of the Nation, and that I will strive at all times to make truth and justice prevail among men.
Obligation Ode
"Bannockburn," march time, Key "A flat."
Gracious Father, now are we
Pledged to each and pledged to Thee,
Till that day when Heaven shall see
All earthly banners furled;
Bless us now by Thy great might,
Keep us true in honor's sight,
Make us children of the light,
O Thou that rul'st the world.
Or this,

Before our altar true
We lift our hearts in prayer.
And here in truth our vows renew,
And pledge our mutual care.

Arise my brother, look about you and learn this lesson, that it is the duty of the strong to protect the weak. You were blind and helpless, but there has not been a moment since you entered our gates when harm could have come to vou. You are surrounded by those who would give their lives to protect the helpless ones in their charge. You will now be instructed in the nature of your obligation, the tenets of our Order, and the secret work of this degree.
Retires to station and seats the Castle.
Master at Arms and Esquire march to Chaplain.
My brother, the binding nature of an oath, or obligation has been recognize in all ages. Men have not lightly relinquished any pursuit that has been entered upon with a solemn vow. You have thus in the strongest manner known to men bound yourself to us.
You have sworn fealty to our Order: May you be steadfast.
All members respond:
So be it.
You have sworn to protect the interests of your brothers and sisters and never to do them wrong: May you be steadfast.
Members respond:
So be it.
You have sworn to keep inviolate the laws of honor; and to suffer no stain upon the banner of our Order if your conduct can prevent or efface it.
In the sight of God and your fellows, may you be steadfast.
Members respond:
So be it.
March to Past Noble Chevalier.
Past Noble Chevalier:
Worthy Esquire, the tenets of our Order are found in the words Friendship, Courage, and Protection.
One of the strongest ties of our humanity is that of noble friendship. It graces youth, it honors manhood, it comforts age. Its sacred power has been felt in every walk of life; and when the great Master would take leave of his disciples he could give them no more tender thought than "I have called you friends." Cherish wisely every friendship. Stand by the comrade at your side, no matter how the battle goes; and when the storms of life beat hardest, when the night of adversity seems darkest, then let friendship shine with steadiest light to bring strength and helpfulness to men.
Courage dwells in knightly hearts; and this you must exemplify in daily life, fearing nothing, not even death itself, when weighed in honor's balance.
Remember that it sometimes takes more courage to live than it does to die – to live and bear your share of the hardships of life, for the sake of those about you. This is often the knightly courage of our modern life.
Protection is the natural duty of the strong, and this it shall be your study to make perfect. Protect your own home, protect your brothers and sisters, protect the widow and orphan in every right; and as you advance in our Order may you strive to make your influence a shield of safety to every needy life within your reach.
March to Noble Chevalier.
Noble Chevalier:
Esquire, you have entered upon a laudable quest, to become a fit companion of the good and the brave.
Remember that if any man would reach excellence among his fellows he must come to that proud eminence through the path of service. This path you have chosen, and may you leave it to your successors brighter and more beautiful by the flowers of honor and good deeds that shall spring up wherever your feet may tread.
As an Esquire you will be under the orders of any knight whom you may serve. You will be his attendant in his tent and in the day of battle. You will care for his armor and bear his shield, and in times of danger you will be near to render any assistance in your power, even to risking your own life in his behalf. Remember that no life given to save life has ever yet been lost, but has entered into the ideals and aspirations of men, and so lives on eternally.
You will need to understand such secret work as will enable you to know your friends and to gain admission to any Castle hall.
We have a grip which is the same in all degrees, and which is known as the grip of a Chevalier. It is given in this manner … and is a perpetual reminder of the time when at our sacred altar you swore fealty to this Order.
We have also a sign of this degree which is as follows: … and has the meaning "my hands are ready to serve." It is answered in the same manner with the meaning "and so are mine."
With the help of the Master at Arms I will give the sign and the interpretation.
Gives sign with meaning.
The sign is given without the words.
Several Members, rising and saluting:
Noble Chevalier!
Chevalier, recognizes one instructed:
Chevalier ....
Selected Challenger:
Noble Chevalier, before this ceremony proceeds further, I wish to make a protest. It has twice been shown here that no one vouches for this esquire’s courage. Indeed, it has been stated that his courage has never yet been tested. In spite of this you have given him the secret work of this degree. You have even given him the grip of a Chevalier, so that outside this lodge-room he can rank as one of us. And now before you teach him how to enter a Castle and be a full companion to our men-at-arms, I demand that he submit to the test of courage that all Chevaliers have endured.
Many Members:
And so do I.
Worthy Chevaliers, you are right in this demand. Guard well the entrance to our Castle, that no unworthy person shall reach our fellowship. And you may know, Chevaliers, that if you had not made this protest, I myself would have given this esquire the challenge of a knight before permitting him to go further.
Esquire …, no man must be called a Chevalier who has not shown himself a fit companion for the true and the brave. Your kinsman has not fully vouched for you, neither can any knight here; and the demand is made that before I teach you how to enter this Castle you submit to such test as will prove your ability to keep all the tenets of our order. Friendship we have shown for you; courage you must show for yourself before we can know that you will protect the interests entrusted to your care. Are you willing to submit to such a test as the brethren here shall deem sufficient?
I am.
Chevaliers, you have heard the answer of this esquire. Shall we give him a sword and armor and set him in the forefront of battle? Shall we send him upon some dangerous quest unattended, where success must be by his own prowess alone? Shall we require him to
pass the ordeal? What shall be the test?
Many Members:
Ordeal! Ordeal! Roll of drum.
The voice of the Castle is for the ordeal, and it shall be so. Summon the guard.
Esquire ..., in the days of chivalry, there were several forms of the ordeal, the principal of which were the ordeal by battle, the ordeal by water, and the ordeal by fire. One of these you must now select. In the ordeal by battle you must with pointed lance and naked sword defend your life in mortal combat. In the ordeal by fire you must submit your body to the flames in passing through the fire, or you must walk with bare feet over burning coals. The ordeal by water is of two kinds: in the one you will plunge your naked arm into boiling water or molten metal, and hold it there at the pleasure of the executioner: in the other you will be bound hand and foot and thrown into deep water to float or to sink as justice shall determine.
These ordeals were required of those who were accused in order to prove their innocence; but they might become the duty of any knight as a champion of the weak or of injured innocence.
It is now demanded of you that you show this Castle whether you possess such qualities of mind and heart as would enable you to fulfill the perfect duties of knighthood should you ever reach that station; and it is required of you now that we may know whether it is prudent to admit you to the road that leads to that proud distinction.
You will, therefore, prepare to take the test.
But in order to spare you the difficulty of choice the ordeal will be determined by lot. I hold in my hand four slips of paper marked with the different tests. You shall draw one of these and hand to your attendant, and which ever one you draw that you must endure.
Roll of drum or flourish.
Esquire draws and hands to M. at A.
Worthy Master at Arms, what is the choice?
Master at Arms:
The test of …. Roll of drum.
Executioners, prepare the caldron.
Guards, attend the candidate.
Two guards advance, one each side, M. at A. steps back.
Esquire …, you have received a hard sentence. In the wager of battle, skill may save your life; in the ordeal by fire, agility may save from suffering; but in this you have only to show us that you can endure.
Guards, conduct Esquire … to the test. Companions in Arms, the executioners have chosen …. You will satisfy yourselves that the test is sufficient.
Several pass around and examine.

Surgeon, you will attend to your office.
Surgeon advances with bandages, etc.

Esquire …, I will count, and when I count three you must … and when I say four you must immediately … and hold it there while the executioner counts three.
Executioners, bare his arm. Extinguish the flame that it shall not too rudely burn his flesh, and turn the light upon his face that all may see whether he shall turn pale or flinch from pain.
Ready! One, two, three, four.
Roll of drum.
If he shall hesitate or decline let this follow:
Chevalier, if he takes the test go on to the next star:
Ah! he flinches. It is natural my brother, to shrink from pain, but however weak the flesh the spirit must be made strong.
I will count again, and again I command you at the word four ….
One, two, three, four. Roll or drum.
If he still declines go on.
The esquire has failed in the test.
And now to teach him that we have asked nothing unreasonable the Executioner will receive him with the grip of a Chevalier, and ….
Executioner steps forward and completes the test.
Guards, you will restore Esquire to the Master at Arms.
Returns to station and seats guards and others with one rap or gavel.

Esquire …, you have borne the test well.
If he has failed say: With the help of friends you have borne this test, and let the Castle vote whether be shall go on.

We will now resume our instructions and I will teach you how to enter a Castle.
Upon approaching the outer gate you will give …, and to the Sentinel you will give the countersign, which, at present is …. If correct, he will admit you to the anteroom, where you will clothe yourself with proper badge. You will then give ... upon the inner door, and to the Warder you will give your name and the degree word, which is ….
He will announce you, and if you are found correct, he will open the door and you will give him the grip of a Chevalier. You will then approach the altar at right angles and salute the Noble Chevalier with this sign …. If he shall answer with the same, you may then be seated in the Council. Should you wish to retire while the Council is in session, you will rise and ask permission. It granted, you will approach the altar, salute the Noble Chevalier as before and
pass out.
You are now instructed in your duties and in the secret work of this degree, and as you are not yet qualified to take part in our deliberations you will retire from our Castle for the present, and await our further pleasure.
If he has borne the test. Calls up.

Brethren, the true man honors bravery, whether found in high or low estate – in esquire or knight – and to show our appreciation of this man's conduct I direct that Esquire – be attended from our hall by the Guard of Honor and from henceforth be given safe conduct in all our dominions.
G. of H. escorts candidate around hall to ante-room.
Worthy Herald, proclaim the closing of this degree and the reopening of our Council.
Hear ye, all companions. By order of the Noble Chevalier I do proclaim that the degree of Esquire is now closed, and this Castle is reopened m Council for the transaction of any business that may come before it. Salute the chief.
All Salute. Chevalier seats the Council.


Worthy Clerk, are there any matters upon your table that require further deliberation?
There are none, Noble Chevalier.
Does any member of the council or guest of the Castle know of aught that should engage our attention? Worthy King-at-Arms you will place the guards.
Guards take same places as at opening.

Worthy Keeper, what is the hour?
It is the hour of day, Noble Chevalier.
Then we must be about our active duties. Chevaliers, we must now separate to go our different ways, some to happy homes, some to relieve want and suffering, and all to the duties, the work and the turmoil of life. Whatever be your quest, Chevaliers, follow it with
courage and single heartedness. Remember that it is the first duty of the strong to protect the weak, and that the consummate flower of Knighthood is spotless character.
Worthy Chaplain.
"May the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea the work of our hands establish Thou it."
So be it.
Chevaliers, while in this Castle you have been guarded by trusty watchmen, but now as you go hence, each must guard himself. Do this in thought and word and deed, that our Order may be honored and your lives be counted for good among men. Worthy Keeper,
break up the watch.
Worthy Master-at-Arms, you will make the morning rounds of the Castle, and prepare us for the day.
Chevaliers, you will give into the hands of the Master of the Robes, the jewels and badges that you wear.
Worthy Groom, you will relieve the Warder, unbar the gates and give free pass to all who would come or go.
Groom, retires, returns, salutes Master-at-Arms:
Your orders have been obeyed.
Takes station.
Worthy Keeper of the Castle, the duty has been performed and all is well.
Noble Chevalier, the Castle is ready and we wait your commands.
Closing Ode

Our fathers' God, to Thee
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright
With freedom's holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God, our king.
Chevaliers, what shall be the words of our parting?
Friendship, Courage, and Protection.
Be it so. Fare ye well.
Flourish of Bugle.