Covenanters’ Mystic Union
Initiation Ritual, First or Historic Degree
The Commander will give * with the gravel, when all officers clothed in their proper regalia will occupy their proper stations.
Com.: The Commandery will come to order.
Guardian Knight, is the Sentry Knight at his post, on duty?
Guard. Knight: He is, Commander.
Com.: Field-Marshal, are you fully satisfied, after your careful inspection of the field, that all persons within sound of your clarion are duly qualified and entitled to listen to the deliberations of this secret conventicler? If any present are not qualified and entitled to remain, it is my order that they retire at once.
Field-Mar.: Commander, all persons now present are loyal Covenanters duly qualified and entitled to listen to our secret, deliberations.
Com.: Field-Marshal, are all officers clothed in their proper regalia?
Field-Mar.: They are, Commander.
Com.: Has the semi-annual pass-word been collected?
Field-Marshal: Not vet, Commander.
Com.: Field-Marshal, you will now instruct the Covenant and Guardian Knights as to their present duty.
Field-Mar.: Covenant and Guardian Knights you will now collect the semi-annual pass-word and report.
After taking the pass-word, beginning with the Past-Commander, then the officers and members in proper order, which each one gives in a low whisper, by rising in his place, the
Covenant and Guardian Knights advance together, face the Commander and the altar, between the first two Tables, give the salutation sign, then with their hands placed on each other's opposite shoulder, and outside hands on the two Tables, give report:
Cov. and Guard. Knights, in unison: Commander, all persons present have given the correct semi-annual pass-word.
Com.: I now declare the meeting of this Commandery open in due form. Our worthy Chaplain will lead us in prayer.
Commander gives * * * *.
Chaplain: "Our Heavenly Father, Almighty and Eternal God, before whom the angels and archangels bow, and whose all-seeing eye beholdest the innermost thoughts and intents of our hearts, we acknowledge to Thee our manifold sins and shortcomings and humbly invoke Thy forgiveness and Divine blessings upon us and upon all our deliberations and actions, that brotherly love may continue to bind us together and strengthen our sense of fraternal obligations to each other, that our Society may be productive of great good to us and those dependent upon us, that we may serve Thee acceptably as worthy Covenanters, loyal to the principles of righteousness, truth, brotherhood and freedom, as embodied in our Four Tables of Home, Honor, Hope, and Help, for which our progenitors so nobly fought in Thy name. Amen.
Officers and members will respond: Amen.
Com.: We will now sing our
Come Covenanters with one acclaim,
Our Tables to surround,
We guests are met in God's own name,
Let love and grace abound.
In His Divine appointed way,
The worlds through cycles swing,
The morning star welcomes the day,
The sun its praises sing.
With Shepherd's staff or Covenant sword.
In peace or war we stand,
Sweet liberty is our watchword,
The world our banners band.
The cross when planted on our shore.
Brought freedom o'er the sea,
It anchored us forevermore.
To our bless'd
Then let us scatter sunshine here,
And join in works of love,
Our sacred ties we'll e'er revere,
And look for grace above.
Safely through another week,
God has led us day by day.
Here we come new strength to seek.
Scattering roses in the way
Making smooth the thorny roads.
life's heavy loads.
Brightest joys through service come.
Richest grace through noblest deeds,
This will earn the glad "Well done",
Enrich your soul by ethers needs:
Scatter seeds along the way.
Of loving deeds, yes, it does pay.
Father of all grace we pray.
Guard the portals of our hearts.
Guide us in our deeds to-day.
Give us grace Thy love imparts:
Teach us here to do Thy will,
Strengthen lead, and bless us still.
Here fraternal ties entwine.
Here we lay our burdens down.
Guarded from the shoals of time,
And the treacherous rocks that frown:
Faithful to our Covenants keep.
Till the ripened grain we reap.
Commander seats the Assembly with * *.
Com.: Past-Commander, it is gratifying to this Assembly to observe your faithful discharge of duty and the maintenance of the dignity of your high office, for it is well with us that we can continue to regard you as a co-worker, ardent adherent and adviser in all that pertains to the welfare of this Assembly and of all loyal Covenanters scattered throughout the country.
The above is also addressed to the Exalted Senior Past Commander, and to the Senior Past Commander, when present.
Past-Com.: Commander, all loyal Covenanters never shrink from duty.
Com.: Vice-Commander, what is the official position and what are the duties of the Commander of this Assembly?
Vice.Com.: The official position of the Commander is facing the Assembly and in the East, where the sun and morning star rise every morning to chase away the darkness of the fleeting night and usher in the dawning of a bright and happy day: so shall the Commander govern his Assembly of the Four Tables with equal regularity and with like conformity to the Supreme Laws which govern his high position, wisely harmonizing the forces under his control and spreading brightness, truth and good cheer throughout the Assembly.
Com.: Vice-Commander, what is your official position and what are your duties?
Vice-Com.: Commander, my official position is in the West, opposite the position of the Commander: my duties require me to take the Commander's place during his absence, to assist the Commander in the government of the Assembly, to have special oversight of the approaches to the Commandery, and as my position in the West corresponds with that of the setting sun at the close of the day, so shall I assist the Commander in the closing exercises of the Assembly.
Com.: Secretary, what are your duties?
Sec.: Commander, my duties require me to keep a correct record of the proceedings of the Assembly, receive all moneys for assessments and dues, pay the dues over to the Treasurer, taking his receipt therefore and to make all regular, special or financial reports to the Supreme Commandery.
Com.: Treasurer, what are your duties?
Treasurer: Commander, my duties require me to faithfully take charge of all moneys belonging to the Commandery, pay out the same on lawful warrants and render a full and complete statement of the financial condition of this Assembly as required.
Com.: Chaplain, what are your duties?
Chap.: Commander, my duties require me to assist the Assembly in devotional exercises, to have special care of the sick and the afflicted and to report all such cases to the Assembly.
Com.: Field-Marshal, what are your duties?
Field-Marshal: Commander, my duties require me to bind together the scattered forces of my command, to see that my generals in the field uphold the righteous principles of the Four Tables and punish our common enemies who invade our sacred borders, who slaughter the helpless and innocents regardless of sex, who despoil our sacred, happy homes, and place our comrades in prison bonds of solitary confinement and torture, without a trial, because they are upright, patriotic citizens amid loyal Covenanters, who dare to die for a just cause. For such enemies of our Four Tables, my broadsword shall never be sheathed.
Com.: Covenant Knight, what are your duties?
Covenant Knight: Commander, my duties require me to assist the Commander in guarding the Charter and Great Seal of the Covenants and to assist in displaying the Articles of the Covenants in public places to receive the signatures of all loyal, patriotic citizens, and enroll them as Comrades of the Covenant.
Com.: Guardian Knight, what are your duties?
Guardian Knight: Commander, my duties require me to securely guard the entrance to and from the Commandery, to see that no loiterers or enemies are about the Commandery, to receive and welcome all Comrades of the Covenant who have the proper passwords, and assist the Covenant Knight in the enrollment and instruction of new members in the mysteries of the Covenant.
Com.: Guardian Knight, what are the duties of the Sentry Knight?
Guardian Knight: Commander, the duties of the Sentry Knight require him to stand at his out-post to guard the outer lines, and demand from all who cross his guard-line, the pass-word of a loyal Covenanter, and to assist the Guardian Knight in guarding the approaches to the Commandery.
Commander: I declare … Commandery No. … now open for the transaction of business.
Guardian Knight von will retire to the Ante-room, inform the members in waiting that the Commandery is now open, and invite them to enter.
Com. gives * with the gavel, which is repeated by the Vice-Com.
Officers and members, during the, ceremony of initiation, shall observe toward each other that courtesy and decorum which the dignity of the Society demands, and for which the Covenanters in olden times were noted, whose exemplary lives we are pledged to emulate.
Com.: Guardian Knight, you will please retire to the Ante-room and ascertain if there are any candidates in waiting for initiation.
Guardian Knight, salute at the altar and retire, upon returning, salute and say: Commander, I find in waiting ... give names ready to be admitted into our honorable and ancient Society.
Com.: Secretary, have the required Dues and Assessments been paid, and are the applications for membership properly filled out and approved?
If the same have not been paid and applicants approved, the Commander will say: Secretary, you will retire and collect the dues and examine the applications. Upon his return, or if already paid and applications approved, he will say:
Secretary: Commander, the required amount have been paid and the applications approved.
Music: during which the Field-Marshal and Guardian Knight prepare for initiation.
Com.: Field-Marshal, are your forces in the field prepared to receive the candidates in due form?
Field-Marshal: They are, Commander.
The Commander will now appoint enough members, who together with the Field-Marshal and Guardian Knight, will make one escort for each candidate. These forces line up in order, before the altar and salute.
Com.: Guardian Knight, during the ceremony of initiation, permit no one to enter or retire, and instruct the Sentry Knight upon your arrival at our outer lines of defence, to allow no alarm to be given at the inner door.
Com.: Field-Marshal, you will now retire with your forces, and introduce your Candidate in due form.
Candidates should be hoodwinked; the Commandery lights turned low, and four red lights arranged in a square about the altar, or on the Four Tables, burning low. If possible a solemn piece of music should now be played while Candidates enter.
Field-Marshal at inner door gives * * * *.
Cov. Knight: Who comes here?
Field-Marshal: Brave Knight of the National Covenant, a fellow countryman is here from the West who desires to sign our Covenant and be admitted into the mysteries of our Society.
Cov. Knight: Vice-Commander, a stranger has traveled East to this Assembly from our Western border, who has come to sign our historic Covenant, and be admitted into the mysteries of our imperishable Society.
Vice-Com.: Let him be admitted.
Candidate is conducted once around the room, stopping the second time in front of the Commander.
Field-Marshal: Commander, I take pleasure in presenting to you a stranger who has traveled East, toward the rising sun and morning star, in search of light, justice and liberty, and to subscribe to our National principles as enacted by our Four Tables and embodied in our National Covenants, and be admitted as a useful and honorable member of our imperishable Society.
Com.: Has he presented proper credentials and proofs of his sincerity to entitle him to admission?
Field-Marshal: He has, Commander.
Com.: You will please conduct the candidate before the altar for proper instructions from our Past-Commander.
The hoodwink is removed from Candidate before the altar, the Past-Commander approaches the front of the altar and addressing Candidate, says: Do you now, in the presence of this Assembly, acknowledge your willingness and desire to become a member of this Society ? Your answer is "I do".
Past-Com.: Are you influenced in your decision by a favorable opinion of the Society, and a desire to be serviceable to your fellow-creatures?
The answer is, "I am".
Past Com.: You are now about to take upon yourself the solemn vows and pledges of "Our Sacred Covenant", which all members have taken who have traveled this way before you.
As Past-Commander of this Assembly, I promise you that it contains nothing which would interfere with your duties that you owe to God your country, your neighbor, your dependents, or yourself. Do you therefore, before all these witnesses, declare your willingness to take upon yourself the solemn vows and pledges of "Our Sacred Covonant", with a determination on your part to ratify, confirm and observe the same faithfully throughout your whole life?
The answer is, "I do".
Past-Com.: You will now place your left hand upon the Holy Scriptures and your right hand over your heart thus ..., and repeat after me, "Our Sacred Covcnant".
I solemnly and unreservedly promise that I will endeavour, in every way to live a good moral life, and emulate the lives of the exemplary, sturdy Covenanters; will deal honestly with all people, and will not become a party to any corrupt or malicious practices. I further promise that I will never knowingly wrong or defraud the Covenanters' Mystic Union, or any Assembly or member of the same, out of the value of anything, nor allow it to be done by another if within my power to prevent it. I further promise that I will never reveal to any person any of the secret work of this Society, and will consider this obligation as binding should my connection with the Society cease. I further promise that I will endeavor, in all honorable ways, to advance the interests of the Covenanters' Mystic Union, and that I will aid, protect and assist all worthy members of the Society and their families as far as lies in my power, without material injury to myself or those dependent upon me. I further promise to conform to and abide by all the laws, rules and regulations of the Society now in force, or which may hereafter be adopted. I further promise that I will guard the good name of all comrades of this Society against all slanderous innuendoes, while satisfied they have violated no law or been guilty of such conduct as to make them objects of contempt, and have been true to their obligation. To the true and faithful performance of this obligation. I pledge my sacred honor. I am a believer in a Supreme Being, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe.
A chair is placed to seat each member facing the altar.
Past-Com.: Yon will now be seated while the Commander will instruct you briefly in the history and objects of our Society.
The Past-Commander returns to his official position, while the Commander advances and stands before the altar facing the candidates, and says:
Com.: As Commander of this Assembly I welcome you as a candidate for admission. In order to prove your fidelity and sincerity to your vows and to convince this Assembly of your fitness to become a member, you will be required to pass through some experiences which will test your courage: but fear not, be strong and of good courage and I promise you as Commander of this Assembly that yon will not be injured in the least, neither bodily nor in any other way, but on the contrary we shall endeavor to so direct your thoughts that you will carry with you throughout your life, many instructive and beautiful lessons. The history of the Covenanter's in Scotland, England and Ireland, beginning with the year 1557 when the first Covenant was circulated and signed, and continuing for more than two centuries thereafter, sparkles with heroic deeds of patriotism, knightly chivalry, self sacrifice and unfaltering devotion to the cause of freedom from arbitrary, political and ecclesiastical domination as exercised by the British Parliament at that time. It is not the purpose of this Society to prolong the struggle thus begun for political and religious liberty, as we now enjoy in full measure that liberty for which the Covenanters so nobly fought, and we owe to them no small portion of our present freedom, for their struggles largely contributed toward breaking the shackles of British serfdom and by their example added new hope to young, oppressed. American Colonies; for many of the Covenanters' posterity, of whom the Puritans were an out-growth, emigrated to this country, and fought in the Revolutionary war for American Independence.
It is our purpose, rather to commemorate the exemplary lives of the ancient Covenanters in their deeds of patriotism, self sacrifice, devotion to home and country, and in their fidelity to the cause of personal and national liberty in the pursuit of happiness and virtue.
We welcome to our ranks men and women of good moral character, who recognize the sovereignty and dominion of One Almighty and Eternal God, the Creator and Preserver of the Universe, and who desire to emulate the exemplary lives of the ancient Covenanters.
There were four Covenants drawn up and published by the Parliament of Scotland; one of the principal Covenants being the National Covenant of Scotland (consisting of three parts) drawn up and published by the Four Tables in Edinburgh, March 1st. 1638, which was based upon a document which James the Sixth had signed in 1580; the framing of the National Covenant was entrusted to Rev. Alexander Henderson and Johnston of Warriston, an advocate, while the Earls of Rothes, Londen and Balmerino were selected to revise it. It was signed in Greyfriars Churchyard, first by the Earl of Sutherland, and afterwards the populace filled the document with their signatures, after which, copies of the Covenant were sent throughout Scotland for signatures. The other important Covenant being the Solemn League and Covenant, which was received by the English Parliament of the Assembly of the Divines, in September 1643, and signed by the members of both Houses of Parliament, and by civil and military officers. Charles the Second signed it very reluctantly at Spey in June 1650, in the hope of recovering the English throne. In the year 1661 the Scottish Parliament renounced the Covenant and declared the King supreme, who declared his doctrine of "The Divine Right of Kings." The Covenanters became "Protesters" against these wrongs.
Ejected from the churches, they became "Conventiclers", and later "Hamiltoniaus", and "Cameronians".
Under all these names they were subjected to a fierce and cruel persecution in which neither age nor sex was spared.
Sir Walter Scott relates how the loyal Covenanter, John Brown, known as "The Christian Carrier" was shot in the presence of his wife, by Claverhouse, the Royalist. The Covenanters convened in "conventicles", in secret places of the rugged mountains, where they were hunted down, tortured and killed by the relentless and bloodthirsty Royalist, Captain John Creichton, assisted by such other Royalists as Lauderdale and Montrose, the latter of whom, by an Act of Attainder, was hanged by the Covenanters, for his villainy, May 21, 1644.
The Covenanters' army, commanded by Baillie was defeated on August 15, 1645 in the Scottish Lowlands, by Montrose, and Edinburgh surrendered to him. The Covenanter army under the Duke of Hamilton, Sir Marmaduke Langdale and Baillie was routed by Oliver Cromwell near Preston, August 17, 1045, and in this battle the famous Bridge of the Ribble, and the Bridge of Darwen were won by Cromwell's troops.
The veteran Covenanter, Lesley on Sept. 13, 1645 at Philiphaugh surprised and defeated the Royalist army under Montrose, and Lesley re-established the Covenanters' power in the Lowlands.
The failure of the Duke of Hamilton to invade England was the signal for the most zealous Covenanters under Argyle to march to Edinburgh and seize the Government, so the most zealous Covenanters were restored to power with the Marquis of Argyle as head of the Covenanter Government at Edinburgh. This action was known as "The Whiggamore Raid".
The Covenanter Parliament, known as "The Four Tables" which ruled Scotland for many years, consisted of the nobility, the ministers, the burgesses and the gentry. Oliver Cromwell, the Great Protector, and head of the Independent Puritans of England, entered Scotland Sept. 20, 1645 and was received at Edinburgh, not as the man to whose might, their brave countrymen had been compelled to yield, but as their deliverer from a Royalist faction that might again have put their national religion and personal liberties in peril. In that memorable letter of Erbury to Cromwell, he wrote: "Great things God has done by yon in war, and good things men expect, from you in peace, to break in pieces, the oppressor, to ease the oppressed of their burdens, to release the prisoners out of bonds, find to relieve poor families with bread''.
At Bothwell Bridge, Hackston of Rathillet valiantly defended the Bridge, but not being well supported by his Covenanters, Claverhouse fighting with the Royalist, Monmouth, overpowered the Covenanters and slaughtered them there, near BothwelMoor, on June 22, 1679. Thus did the Covenanters heroically pour out their life blood upon the altar of liberty; this did the faithful husbands and fathers, sons and brothers defend the sacred firesides of their humble homes, and though often defeated in battle, they were never conquered.
All the horrors of war flung their black banners over the weary years of oppression and massacre, and the earthen floors of the peaceful peasants' cabins were wet with the sacrificial blood of mothers and their babes; sacrificed on the sacred altar of Liberty. Long before, our beloved declaration of Independence was thought of, its exalted principles burned deeply in the breasts of the liberty-loving Covenanters, and though driven and hunted in their mountain fastnesses without sufficient food, clothing or shelter, they toiled and fought and prayed for the light of the dawning of the morning of liberty and peace, when their swords should be beaten into plow-shares and their spears into pruning hooks. Again and again they were plunged into the great struggle; for national and personal liberty.
We hear the sounds of preparation for war, … the music of boisterous drums, ... the clarions' shrill notes, and the silver voices of heroic bugles. We see thousands of assemblages and hear the stirring' appeals of orators. We see the pale cheeks and quivering lips of women, and the flushed faces of determined men. We see them hurriedly sign the Covenant and buckle on their great broadswords. Some are walking for the last time in quiet wooded places with the maidens they adore, while the boughs of the weeping willows stoop to bestow Nature's kisses upon the sons of freedom.
We hear the whisperings and the sweet vows of eternal love as they lingeringly part, perhaps ... forever. Others are bonding over cradles, kissing babes that are asleep: others are receiving the blessings of aged, white-haired patriots; some are parting with mothers who press them to their hearts again and again, and are silent; ... tears and kisses, kisses and tears, ... divine mingling of agony and love. Some are talking with wives, and endeavoring with brave and cheery words to hush the awful fear.
We see them part. We see the wife standing in the open door with the hot tears in her eyes; at the turn of the road a loving hand waves "farewell", and a devoted wife holds high in her loving arms, the babe.
He is gone and forever! We see them as they march proudly away under the flaunting flags, keeping time to the grand, wild music of war, marching through the towns and boroughs, across the valleys, over the bridges and across the heath, and now disappear through the rugged glen, ... down to the fields of glory to do and to die for the eternal right. In imagination, we go with them through the furrows of gory fields, through hospitals of pain, through weary marches. We stand guard with them in the wild storm and under the quiet stars. We are with them when the wild clash and clang of arms paint the withered leaves with the blood of Covenanter heroes. We see them wounded in the trenches by forts, and in the fierce whirlwind of the charge, where men become iron, with nerves of steel. We are with them in the prisons of famine, disease and hatred; ... but human speech can never picture what they endured. We are at their home when the news comes that, they are martyred heroes.
We see young mothers and youthful maidens in the shadow of their first great sorrow, while the silvered heads of the grand old patriots are bowed with the weight of their last great sorrow, on the brink of the river of immortality.
The memory of the immortal Covenanters who were true to the highest ideals of personal and national liberty and fraternal love, shall hereafter be perpetuated, not only in history, but also in our memorial, glorious fraternity , the Covenanters' Mystic Union.
Commander: Yon have now passed through our "Historic Degree". You will now be conducted back to the place whence you came, and there prepare yourself for the Second Degree. Fear not. Depart in peace.
Com.: Officers and members, we are about to close this Assembly in due form. I earnestly admonish each of you to walk uprightly before the world, to maintain the dignity of your character on all occasions, to be slow to wrath, plenteous in mercy and brotherly kindness, admonishing the careless to be true to their solemn vows and Covenants, and guard them and yourselves against every allurement to vicious, or immoral practices, and by your unblemished fraternal spirit lift up the world to higher ideals of life. As a loyal Covenanter you are bound by duty and honor to faithfully observe and uphold by precept and example, the high moral teachings and principles of our noble Society, to zealously promote its growth and best interests and to not allow its standard to be lowered nor its secrets divulged in any manner. Let no motive cause you to swerve from your duty, violate your vows or betray your trust, and remember that the all-seeing eye of God, which observes the innermost thoughts of our hearts and follows the swallow’s wing in its swift flight, watches over and guides our destinies, Therefore be faithful, steadfast and true, a credit to yourself, an honor to the Society and a blessing to the world.
Com.: Chaplain. what is your last duty for the evening?
Chap.: To assist in the closing devotional exercises of the evening.
Com.: Chaplain, you will now attend to that duty.
The Commander gives * * * * with the gavel.
Chaplain: Let us sing our
O, bless'd Fraternity.
I ever sing of thee,
Thy joys abound:
Beacon of purest light.
Shine through the darkest night,
And make the pathway bright
The world around.
Our dear Fraternity.
Emblem, of liberty.
Belt of the world;
Watchword of all that' s grand,
We'll ever by thee stand.
A strong united band.
With flag unfurled.
My own Fraternity,
Strong in thy constancy,
Though tempests rape:
In thee, O, let me hide,
When death rolls dark the tide.
Secure when by thy side,
Youth or old
In God our trust we place.
Share His Almighty grace.
Till life shall cease:
Then with the glorified,
Covenanters side by side,
We'll evermore abide
In eternal peace.
Chap.: Let us pray.
Our Heavenly Father, Supreme Ruler and Creator of the universe, now that we are about to separate and return to our homes, grant us Thy Divine guidance in all our actions, Thy counsel in all our difficulties. Thy protection in all our trials and dangers, and wilt Thou so influence our hearts and minds that we may obey Thy divine Laws and be true to the high moral teachings of our Society. We commend to Thy grace all the sick and afflicted. Grant that we may all meet at last in that glorious assembly of the redeemed where sorrow and partings are no more, but joy and everlasting peace shall crown our earthly labors of fraternal love. Amen.
Officers and members will respond: Amen, after which Commander seats the Assembly with * *.
Com.: Guardian Knight, you will please collect the Rituals and Regalia, close the Bible and report.
When this has been done, the Guardian Knight should report from the altar and say:
Guardian Knight: Commander, your orders have been obeyed.
Commander gives * * * * with the gavel.
Com.: I now declare … Commandery No. … of the Covenanters' Mystic Union, closed until the next regular meeting, unless called earlier, when the members shall be notified by summons or otherwise.