Commemorative Order of St. Thomas of Acon
Ritual for Admission to the Order
Points of Procedure
When standing for prayer, the sword is taken to the recover and lowered so that the point rests on the floor between the feet, with the right hand on the pommel and the left hand placed on top of the right. The head should be bowed. The Mantle is not to be raised with the left arm. At the termination of prayers the sword is taken back to the recover and then to the carry.
Any member or visitor (including Grand Officers) admitted to the Chapel before the Minutes of the previous meeting have been approved must address the Eminent Prior. Those entering after the Minutes have been approved must address the Worthy Master.
Signing the minutes
When the Minutes of the previous Meeting have been adopted only the Prior signs them. The M.E. Grand Prior if present may be invited to append his signature as a courtesy, as may the R.E. Prov. Grand Prior (if present). The Master (and M.W. Grand Master or Grand Preceptor, if present) do not sign the Minutes.
White gloves are to be worn by all Knights except the Prior. Any Officer required to handle the Holy Bible will first remove his gloves.
All badges must be either genuine shells or solid metal.
As in other Military Orders, when the Marshal or his Deputy conduct a member in the Temple, they do not lead them by the hand.
Items not depicted in the Layout of the Chapel should not be placed on the altar at any time (cap, lighter, snuffer etc).
The Installation Candle
The Installation Candle is placed on the Altar in front of the Cross, but not obscuring the Cross, at that point in the Ceremony immediately prior to the item on the summons for the election of a Master. It is then lit by the Prior.
Before the opening of the Chapel bread and water should be placed near to hand on a side table. They should be suitable for the purpose for which they are to be used, i.e. sufficient bread on the plate and water in a cup with a napkin for four Working Knights if there is no candidate and it is not an Installation meeting.
Opening the Chapel
All the Knights are assembled in the Chapel.
Marshal: Sir Knights: Upstanding.
Prior: Sir Knights, the Opening Hymn.
He who would valiant be 'gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy follow the Master.
There's no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent to be a pilgrim.
Since, Lord, Thou dost defend us with Thy Spirit,
We know we at the end shall life inherit.
Then fancies flee away!
I'll fear not what men say,
I'll labour night and day to be a pilgrim.
Prior: Bro. Deputy Marshal, what is the first duty of Knights of St. Thomas of Acon when in a Chapel assembled?
Dep. Mar.: To see that the Doorkeeper is at his post and in communication with the Sentry.
Prior: Command him to do his duty.
Dep. Mar.: Bro. Doorkeeper, do your duty.
Doorkeeper draws his sword, opens the door, and takes Password from the Sentry then closes the door. Doorkeeper keeps his sword drawn until the closing.
Doorkeeper: Bro. Deputy Marshal, the Sentry is at his post and in possession of the password.
Dep. Mar.: Eminent Prior, the Doorkeeper is at his post; he is in communication with the Sentry who is in possession of the password.
Prior: Bro. Deputy Marshal, what is the second duty of Knights of St. Thomas of Acon?
Dep. Mar.: To see that all present are members of the Order.
Prior: See that they be so.
The Deputy Marshal takes the password from each Knight, proceeding clockwise (following the sun) round the Chapel. He first collects the password from the Master, then proceeds to pass in front of the Altar and Prior, to take the password from all present, finally passing in front of the Master and the Altar to communicate the word to the Prior. If any fail to give it, the Marshal and Deputy Marshal shall escort them from the Chapel.
Prior: Bro. Deputy Marshal, what is the third duty of Knights of St. Thomas of Acon?
Dep. Mar.: To see that the Knights are properly armed.
Prior: You will examine them for that purpose.
Deputy Marshal draws his sword and proceeds to south west corner, turns to the east.
Dep. Mar.: Sir Knights - To Order.
The Knights stand at the carry. The Prior holds a closed Holy Bible, in front of him; similarly, the Almoner holds the Alms Dish, to show his Office and function. When the Deputy Marshal is satisfied that all are correctly armed, he returns to his place, facing the Prior; comes to the recover, and returns to the carry.
Dep. Mar.: Eminent Prior, the Knights here assembled are all properly armed.
Prior: Bro. Deputy Marshal, what is the fourth duty of Knights of St. Thomas of Acon?
Dep. Mar.: To prepare their hearts and minds for constant prayer.
Prior places the closed Bible on the Altar and lights the candles. He then uncovers, but does not place his hat on the Altar.
Prior: Sir Knights, let us pray.
Almighty and Everlasting God, we beseech Thee to strengthen in us our belief and lively faith in Thee. Preserve us from the attacks of evil men, and so direct our spiritual and temporal powers that we may be able to use them to serve Thee. Guide us in all our understandings and inspire our hearts with wisdom so that our actions may proclaim Thy glory all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Omnes: Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.
The Prior opens the Holy Bible at Matthew XXV verse 35, covers, and resumes his place.
Dep. Mar.: Sir Knights - Be seated.
Hereafter, upon being addressed, a Knight shall be named thus: Sir John of Gaunt, except where indicated in the ritual, and save only the Worthy Master, the Most Worthy Grand Master, Most Eminent Grand Prior, Right Worthy Grand Preceptor, Right Eminent Provincial Grand Prior, and the Eminent Prior who shall always be addressed as such.
If there is a Dispensation to be read for:
i) a change of date;
ii) a change of venue;
iii) an emergency meeting;
before the Muster Roll is called, the Prior requests the Secretary to read it thus: 'Sir .... of ...., please read the Dispensation.'
If there is a Dispensation for any other purpose, the Master requests the Secretary to read it immediately prior to the item on the Agenda to which it refers thus: 'Sir .... of ...., please read the Dispensation.'
A Dispensation to admit more than two candidates at a meeting should be read after any ballot and before the candidates are admitted.
Prior: Sir .... of .... , please read the Muster Roll.
The Knights remain sea ted until their name is called when they stand, reply, and be seated.
If there is a requiem for a deceased Knight it should be held at this point, if there is not a requiem proceed to the reading of the minutes.
Requiem for a Deceased Knight of the Order
Prior stands at his place: Sir Knights we meet to commemorate the passing into a higher life of our dear Brother Knight(s) Sir ... of ... (and Sir ... of ...).
It is but natural that those of us who have known and loved him (them) should regret his (their) departure from amongst us; yet it is our knightly duty to think not of ourselves, but of him (them).
Sir Knights, our Ceremony has acquainted us with four of the seven Corporeal Works of Mercy (go! feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked with a garment, go! bury the dead). The First Prior of the Order, William, through his compassion, also embraced the other three (visit and relieve the sick: visit and ransom the captives: and harbour the harbourless).
Today we have the opportunity to honour him (them) who is (are) no longer with us, to pay a last tribute to departed worth and merit, and to remember by his (their) deeds, all those Corporeal Works of Mercy.
A short Eulogy to the Knight is given by the Eminent Prior and/or other knight(s). The Prior uncovers, stands in front of the altar facing east.
Marshal: Sir Knights - To order.
Prior: Let us pray. Almighty God, who hast Dominion
over both the living and the dead and dost hold all Thy creation in the everlasting arms of Thy love, we pray for the peace and repose of our Brother Knight(s), Sir .... of .... , that he (they) being dead unto this world, yet ever living unto Thee, may find in Thy continued and unceasing service the perfect consummation of happiness and peace.
Organist plays a few bars of suitable music.
Prior: Requiem aeternam dona ei (eis), Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei (eis). Or Give him (them) eternal rest, O Lord, and let everlasting light shine upon him (them).
The Prior covers and returns to his place.
Marshal: Sir Knights - Be seated.
Prior: Sir ... of ..., please read the minutes of our last meeting.
Prior: Sir Knights, you have heard the record of our last meeting. If you deem it correct, remain silent.
If any Knight wishes a correction, he must rise and address the Prior.
The Deputy Marshal takes the Minute Book to the Prior for signing. From this point the Chapel, and all business thereof, is under the direction of the Worthy Master. Historically it is not known when the Master took precedence over the Prior other than that the custom was established by the time the Order settled in Ironmonger Lane.
The Agenda continues.
Admission to the Order
1. In accordance with the Regulations, only two candidates may be admitted without the need for a dispensation.
2. When there are two candidates, each must proceed individually through the ceremony; viz .: the tests, the challenge and the Obligation: after the second candidate has completed the tests, the challenge and the Obligation, the Eminent Prior reads the passage from St. Matthew once. From this point both candidates proceed through the ceremony as directed by the Marshal.
3. Providing that a Dispensation has been obtained for three candidates to be admitted at a meeting, and where there are three candidates at a meeting, each candidate should proceed individually through the tests, the challenge, and the Obligation. After the third candidate has taken his Obligation, the Eminent Prior reads the passage from Matthew once to all three candidates. A representative candidate is then used for the remainder of the ceremony with the other candidates observing and participating as directed by the Marshal and/or as directed in the Ritual.
4. Providing that a Dispensation has been obtained, to admit more than three candidates at a meeting, and where there are Jour or more candidates at a meeting, a representative candidate will take the ceremony on behalf of all other candidates. The "special instructions" for more than three candidates already have their own instruction section. The representative candidate takes the tests, the challenge and then, with the other candidates assisting in formation behind him, by placing the "left hand on the left shoulder, right hand on the heart", he takes the Obligation with the other candidates repeating the Obligation at the same time. After the Obligation, the Eminent Prior reads the passage to all the candidates at once.
Thereafter the representative candidate continues the ceremony with the other candidates observing and participating as directed by the Marshal and/or as directed in the Ritual.
5. General Note: Whether there is one candidate or more, each must individually kneel and be knighted, and individually proclaimed. The responsibility for organising the orderly flow of candidates to the Worthy Master, rests with the Marshal and Deputy Marshal as set out in the Ritual.
Special Procedures when there are more than Three Candidates
1. If there are more than three candidates for Admission into the Order at a meeting a representative candidate must be chosen to proceed through the entire ceremony.
2. All the candidates assemble in the ante-chamber wearing their K.T. tunics, mantles, hats, belts and swords; but no gloves, jewels or sashes. Every candidate must pay a fee comprising a silver coin, which must be placed in the Scrip Purse.
The candidates must not be informed that they will have to remove their mantles until the appropriate point in the ceremony is reached.
3. The Sentry will: Collect from each of the candidates a silver coin, and ensure that they are all placed in the Scrip Purse;
Conduct the representative candidate out of the Ante-Chamber to prepare him;
Give the Representative a scrip purse, with some bread in it, a bottle of water, and tell him to put them on under his mantle;
Tell the Representative to place a silver coin in the purse. Say to the Representative: You have: some bread in the purse;
a flask of water;
a mantle to keep you warm;
a strong right arm.
You have to pass a number of tests to prove that you are worthy of being admitted to the Chapel and you will receive no assistance whilst taking them, but must "do what seemeth thee good".
4. Meanwhile the Secretary (only) goes in to the Ante-Chamber. Under no circumstances may the Marshal or any other Officer go into the Ante-Chamber.
The Secretary says to the other candidates: Normally each candidate has to pass a series of tests to prove that he is worthy of admission into the Order, these tests only take a few minutes; In view of the number of candidates on this occasion the Most Worthy Grand Master has given permission for a representative candidate to take the tests on your behalf; If the representative candidate passes the tests you will all be admitted, otherwise none of you will; Please observe this procedure closely and silently as it has a bearing on the Ceremony which follows in the Chapel.
On no account should you give advice or assistance to the representative candidate.
He then requests them to move to one side of the Ante-Chamber.
5. The four Working Knights process in to the antechamber, where the tests will be conducted, and take up their positions about two to three yards apart along the opposite side of the room to the candidates.
6. The Secretary then informs the Sentry that all is ready.
7. The Sentry conducts the representative candidate into the Ante-Chamber and leads him to the 1st Working Knight.
8. Immediately after the candidate has passed the third test, the Secretary in structs all the other candidates – except the Representative – to remove their mantles and carry them over their left arm.
9. When the representative candidate has passed the fourth test, the Secretary instructs all the candidates, except the representative, to proceed in to the Chapel and be seated. The Secretary also proceeds to his place in the Chapel.
10. When all the other candidates are seated the Marshal informs the Sentry.
11. The Sentry instructs the representative candidate to enter the Chapel. The ceremony then proceeds as normal.
12. The candidates should not put on any Insignia of the Order until after the representative candidate has been invested.
Admission of a Candidate
The candidate wears his K.T. regalia, mantle, tunic, hat with sword and belt, but without jewels or sash.
The Sentry instructs the candidate(s) to place their white gloves into his/ their pockets. The Sentry hands him a scrip purse with some bread in it, and a bottle of water and tells him to put them under his mantle. He tells the candidate to place a silver coin, as his fee, in the scrip purse.
Master: The four Working Knights will now retire.
The four Working Knights retire after the 3rd Working Knight has left his mantle on his seat.
Master: Any Knight who would care to witness the passing of the Tests, may now retire to do so.
The four Working Knights take up their positions in the Ante-Chamber for the tests with sufficient space to do their duties individually.
Upon entering the ante-chamber the candidate sees Working Knights 1, 2 and 3 standing, wiping their foreheads, and making other signs of fatigue, whilst 4th Working Knight is trying lift the c ....
They speak one at a time. The candidate advances to the 1st Working Knight.
1st. W.Kt.: I am so hungry.
He repeats this utterance until the candidate offers bread. The other three Working Knights maintain silence. After the candidate has fed the 1st Working Knight, the 1st Working Knight goes into the Chapel directly to his seat in the west, and sits.
The candidate then advances to the 2nd Working Knight.
2nd W.Kt.: I am so thirsty.
He repeats this utterance until the candidate offers water. The other two Working Knights maintain silence. After the candidate has refreshed the 2nd Working Knight, the 2nd Working Knight goes into the Chapel directly to his seat in the west, and sits.
The candidate then advances to the 3rd Working Knight.
3rd W.Kt.: I am so cold.
He repeats this utterance until the candidate offers his mantle. The 4th Working Knight maintains silence. After the candidate has clothed the 3rd Working Knight, the 3rd Working Knight goes into the Chapel directly to his seat in the west, and sits.
He continues to wear the candidate's mantle. The candidate then advances to the 4th Working Knight.
4th W.Kt.: I am so tired.
He repeats this utterance until the candidate helps to lift the C. After the candidate has assisted the 4th Working Knight, the Working Knight goes into the Chapel directly to his seat in the west, and sits.
All Knights having retired to witness the passing of the tests now return to their seats in the Chapel.
The Sentry and candidate are left alone outside the door, which remains ajar but guarded inside by the Doorkeeper, who now stands in the doorway.
Sentry: Are you going in?
Sentry, if the candidate hesitates: You have done good works, why hesitate, why not go in?
As the candidate enters, he is addressed by the Doorkeeper.
Doorkeeper: I see you are a Knight of the Temple. Give me the sign and word of a Crusader. Done.
The Doorkeeper directs the candidate to the centre of the Chapel.
Dep. Mar.: An intruder! An intruder!
All Knights stand to Order at their places.
Marshal: Guard the Chapel!
The Working Knights and nominated Knights remain at their place facing the intruder and pointing their swords towards him. All other Knights remain at the carry.
Marshal: Sir Knights, advance and repel the intruder.
Keeping in step with the Marshal, the Working Knights and nominated Knights advance slowly so as to give the candidate time to act and, if he does not draw his sword, to surround him.
Marshal, if the candidate does not draw his sword: Here is a stubborn Knight to oppose us.
or if the candidate does draw his sword: Here is a brave Knight to join us.
Marshal: Sir Knights, halt! Carry swords. To your places, march.
The Four Working Knights remain standing behind the candidate. Nominated Knights return to their places.
Marshal to candidate (if candidate has drawn sword: Return your sword.) Follow me.
As Marshal leads candidate to the kneeling stool, Working Knights 1, 2, 3 and 4 follow closely behind, keeping their swords at the carry. When the candidate reaches the Altar, the 1st Working Knight strikes him with the edge of his left hand, on the left arm just below the shoulder; after a slight pause the 2nd Working Knight strikes him with the edge of his left hand on the right arm just below the shoulder; after another slight pause, the 3rd Working Knight strikes him with the edge of his left hand, on the back of the knee.
3rd W.Kt., whispers: Kneel on both knees.
(Note: The kneeling stool is situated away from the Altar so that the Prior can stand before the candidate) After another slight pause the 4th Working Knight then strikes him with the left hand on the back of the head. So that the blows are given in the form of a cross. If there are more than three candidates, the other candidates are instructed to rise and form up in lines behind the representative candidate with one hand on the shoulder of the Brother in front. Each candidate must separately repeat his own name; then all the candidates jointly repeat the Oath of the Order. Working Knights about turn, and return to their places. Prior moves in front of the candidate holding his small Holy Bible.
Prior: Place both hands on the Holy Bible. In this impressive posture you will take the oath of a Knight of St. Thomas of Acon. Repeat your several names at length and say after me:
"I, ..., swear by the ever-living God to keep secret from all persons whomsoever, the manner of my reception into the Order of St. Thomas of Acon, and the mode of recognition used by my brother Knights, unless in a Chapel of the Order lawfully assembled for that purpose. Furthermore I will consider all charitable claims made upon me by any persons whomsoever, and will assist them when in my opinion they are worthy and I am able to assist.
All this I swear by my 'halidom', under a penalty no less than that of being struck down as was St. Thomas, and being forever deprived of the confraternity of this Order."
Prior: You will seal this Oath with your lips four times on the New Testament.
Every candidate must individually seal the Oath four times on the New Testament.
Prior reads from St. Matthew Chapter XXV vs.34-40, using his small Holy Bible: Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an-hungered, and ye gave meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee an-hungered and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? Or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Marshal: Sir Knights - Be seated.
The other candidates resume their seats.
Marshal: (to candidate) Rise and follow me.
They proceed to the Treasurer.
Marshal: Sir ... of ..., Worthy Treasurer, this Knight has taken the Oath of our Order, and I present him to you.
Treasurer: What fee does he bring?
Marshal: The fee of a Knight of our Order.
Treasurer: Give it to me.
The candidate hands bag of coin(s) to the Treasurer, who counts and checks to see that all the coins are of silver. Satisfied, he nods to the Marshal). The scrip purse is left on the Treasurer's table, together with the water bottle. They proceed to the Almoner.
Marshal: Sir ... of ..., Worthy Almoner, this Knight has taken the Oath of our Order, and has paid the fee of a Knight of St. Thomas. Will you prove his worthiness?
Almoner: Are you prepared to collect alms in the cause of knightly charity?
Candidate: I am.
Almoner: Then you will take this alms dish and collect what alms you may from the Knights here assembled, and return to me.
Marshal stands aside.
Marshal: Sir Knights - Upstanding.
The representative candidate will only collect Alms from the existing members of the Order, not from any other candidates, each of whom has already paid a silver coin as his 'Fee' in the ante-chamber. These fees form part of the Alms Collection. The candidate proceeds alone around the Chapel.
Returning to the Almoner, he hands him the dish. The Almoner takes the Alms dish to the Prior. The Prior takes the Alms dish and offers it to the Altar. The Prior returns the Alms dish to the Almoner who takes it to the Treasurer. The Almoner then returns to his seat.
Marshal: Sir Knights - Be seated.
Marshal to candidate: Come with me.
They go to Working Knights 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Marshal: Brother Knights, this Knight has taken the Oath of our Order; he has paid the fee of a Knight of St. Thomas; and has collected knightly charity. Have you aught to say in his favour?
1st W.Kt.: I was hungry and he gave me bread.
2nd W.Kt.: I was thirsty and he gave me water.
3rd W.Kt.: I was cold and he gave me his mantle.
4th W.Kt.: I was weary and he gave me help.
Marshal to candidate: Come with me.
They proceed to the kneeling stool.
Marshal: Eminent Prior, this Knight has taken the Oath of our Order; he has paid the fee of a Knight of St. Thomas; he has collected knightly alms; he has given bread, water and raiment to those in need, and has helped the weary in his labours. He now comes to do homage that he may be received into this Order.
Prior stands at his place: Is it your earnest desire to unite with us in the Lord's Oath, to live in brotherly love, and to serve all men, without fear or favour, as did our blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Candidate: It is.
The Deputy Marshal takes the candidate's sword and places it on the Altar.
Marshal, quietly: Please remove your hat and give it to me.
If there is more than one candidate, the Marshal must instruct them all to come forward, remove their hats, and for each to hold them in their left hand.
Prior: You will kneel before the Altar.
Marshal: Sir Knights - To order.
Prior: You will now recite Our Lord's Prayer.
If there is more than one candidate, the Prior instructs them all to recite the Lord's Prayer.
All Knights assume the attitude of prayer.
Candidate Recites the Lord's Prayer.
Prior: Sir Knights, let us implore a Blessing on this candidate for our Order.
Turns to face the Altar and uncovers. If there is more than one candidate, the Prior must say all nouns in the plural, viz.,: "Let us implore a Blessing on these candidates for our Order." For this purpose ideally they should all kneel, but this may not be practical.
Prior: O Almighty God, look down, we beseech Thee, on this assembly, and impart Thy Holy grace on him (them) who kneels (kneel) before Thee; that he (they) may, with firm resolve, serve Thee through all dangers and difficulties to Thine honour and glory, in the Name of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.
The candidate remains kneeling. The Knights recover to Order.
Prior covers and returns to his place: Worthy Master, this worthy Christian Knight has come to do homage that he may be received into our Order. Is it your pleasure to receive and reward him?
Master: He is indeed a very worthy Christian Knight. I will receive his homage with pleasure, and will reward him as far as in my knightly power lies.
The Master removes his gloves and moves in front of the candidate.
To candidate: Place your hands between mine and say after me: "I pledge my homage to the Prior and the Master of this Chapel of St. Thomas of Acon, and will obey them in all things whatsoever, those things being consistent with the laws of God, of man and of reason"
If there are more than three candidates, the candidates should all take the pledge together, the other candidates standing with the right hand on the shoulder of the candidate in front. If there are a large number of candidates, after taking the pledge they may be seated until they are individually called upon to be dubbed and proclaimed. As each candidate approaches to be dubbed, he should be quietly requested to hand his mantle to the Third Working Knight, and then to present his sword to the Deputy Marshal, who retains it until the candidate is kneeling, and presents it to the Master.
I dub you a Knight of St. Thomas of Acon, and declare you to be a Brother amongst us. Be loyal (left shoulder), brave (right shoulder) and true (head). Arise Sir ... of ..., please replace your cap, (pause to allow him to receive it from the Marshal and do so) and receive your sword.
Deputy Marshal whispers: Sheath it.
The 3rd Working Knight returns sword, comes forward and places the candidate's own mantle upon him. The 3rd Working Knight draws his sword, and returns to his place.
If there is more than one candidate he does not retire at this point; instead he takes the mantle from each candidate before he kneels and holds it until the candidate has sheathed his sword, before placing it on his shoulders. When he has placed the mantle on the shoulders of the last candidate he returns to his place.
The 3rd Working Knight puts on his own mantle.
The Worthy Master returns to his place.
Master: Sir ... of ..., our Worthy Herald, you will present our new Comrade-in-Arms to the Brethren.
Herald moves to stand north of candidate, instructs him to face west: Sir Knights, I present to you our new Comrade-in-Arms, Sir ... of ..., and I call upon you to salute him.
The Knights raise their sword arms upwards at full length, flourish their blades and shout: "Sir ... of ...".
Every candidate in turn must be proclaimed by the Herald. If there is more than one candidate, the Deputy Marshal conducts each of the new Knights, except the Representative, back to his seat immediately after they have been saluted. Any elderly or frail candidates should be instructed to sit rath er than remain standing if there is a large number of new Knights. Herald returns to his place.
Marshal: Sir Knights - Be seated.
Deputy Marshal places a seat centrally in front of the Working Knights, facing west, and returns to his place.
Marshal to candidate: Come with me.
Takes him to the seat in front of the Working Knights.
Marshal: Sir Knights, be pleased to instruct our new Comrade-in-Arms in the history of our Order.
Marshal whispers to the candidate "sit" and returns to his place. The 4th Working Knight waits until the candidate is seated before he stands and reads the history. (Note: A lectern may be placed behind the Working Knights facing east from which the readings may be given).
4th W.Kt., stands: Near the end of the eleventh century, in the city of London there lived a young mercer, one Gilbert Becket, who decided to undertake a perilous journey into foreign parts in order to increase his wealth. This he set out to do with what appeared to be disastrous results, for the ship in which he sailed was captured by Saracens, and Gilbert found himself to be a slave in the home of a heathen Moor. There the enslaved Gilbert toiled, yet his fair hair, his blue eyes and generous smile speedily won the heart of his Master's daughter.
The damsel became enamoured of Gilbert, and after some fifteen months, she arranged for his escape, and he returned to his home in Ironmonger Lane. Such was the tale that Gilbert Becket told on his return, and all the Mercery and Ironmongery were full of wagging tongues and doubtful thoughts until the seven days' wonder of his adventures died down. It may have well died altogether had it not been for the arrival in London of a foreign lady with scarce a word of English on her lips save "London" and "Gilbert".
She was taken to the house of Gilbert Becket who took her in. As you may surmise, she was the daughter of the Moor who had enslaved him, and had followed Gilbert to London. Very quickly she became a Christian and took the name of Matilda, thereafter marrying him.
Gilbert subsequently became the last Portreeve of the City before the introduction of Sheriffs and Lord Mayors.
3rdW.Kt., stands: Of their several children, one, Thomas, entered the Church and became secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was brilliant in his work and was appointed Chancellor to King Henry II. The King and Thomas worked as a team for the good of the kingdom and when the Archbishop of Canterbury died, Henry nominated Becket to the Archbishopric, assuring himself that Becket was his right hand man. But such was not the case, for no sooner was Becket on his Episcopal throne than he took up with all vigour the side of the Church against the King, who issued in A.D. 1164 his famous Constitution of Clarendon.
Their main dispute was that the Church claimed exclusive jurisdiction over any person who belonged to the ranks of the clergy, including what was practically the lay fringe of that body, and inflicted on them penalties which, from the lay point of view were grotesquely inadequate. The King could not tolerate this and a fierce quarrel arose between him and Becket. Becket fled to the Continent and stayed there for six years. Then in A.D. 1170 the King and Becket seemed to be reconciled and the Archbishop returned to England.
Now during the time that Becket had been away, the King had had his eldest son crowned as his successor by the Archbishop of York. This action was bitterly resented by Becket as an infringement of his See. Upon his return to England, he foolishly excommunicated all the clergy who had taken part in the crowning of the young prince. These Clergy went to France and appealed to the King. Then came that well known burst of anger when Henry was reported to have said: "Who will deliver me from this low-born priest?"
Four Knights left the Council Chamber, hurried to the coast, took ship for England and went straight to Canterbury.
There, on the 29th day of December 1170, they found the Archbishop in the Cathedral just at the time of Vespers, and there and then slew him before the Altar. The nation was shocked at the crime and almost overnight, Becket became regarded as a saint.
The 2nd Working Knight stands and points to the picture of the Acon Church which is adjacent to his seat.
2nd W.Kt.: You will have observed this and similar pictures during your journey round this Chapel. These show the remains of an early church of the Order which was founded as follows:
The Third Crusade began in A.D. 1189, and on 8th June 1191, Richard Coeur de Lion with his forces arrived before the seaport of Acre which had been besieged for two years by other Christian princes. Richard captured the city in five weeks.
Among the English was one William, the Chaplain to the Dean of St. Paul's who, when he saw the corpses of the Christians about the walls of Acre, had compassion on them. With the aid of a small band of helpers he buried a large number of dead and tended the wounded. This successful act gave William confidence and he formed an Order for the express purpose of burying Christians who fell in the Holy Land. To this first purpose he added a second, which was the ransoming of Christians taken captive by the Saracens. Back in England, by this time the relics of St. Thomas were said to be working miracles, and the Saint was very popular with the people. Be it remembered that William the Chaplain was a Londoner, and we can see how he came to name his Order after St. Thomas of Canterbury. The Order being formed at Acre, its name was always incorporated in the title, the Anglicised form of Acre being Acon. William's Order at Acre was so successful that he was able to build a church with a churchyard, which he dedicated to St. Thomas, calling himself Prior of the Order.
Upon hearing that an Order had been formed for charitable purposes and named after their relative, the family of Becket gave Gilbert's old home in Ironmonger Lane to the Order of St. Thomas of Acon for the purpose of building a church in his memory. Richard Coeur de Lion saw that the Order required protection, and commanded or sanctioned that it should contain a number of Knights. Thus the Order became a Chivalry with a Prior, and as such took part in the fighting. Of this, all Englishmen should be humbly but justly proud, for of all the five noble Orders of Knights, viz. the Poor Knights of the Temple, the Knights of the Hospital of St. John, the Teutonic Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary, the Knights of the Hospital of St. Lazarus, and of St. Thomas, this was the only one with an English foundation. The Order was always few in numbers. Perhaps the idea of burying the dead did not appeal to the gentlemen of the day, or the greater probability, that they were overshadowed by the other great Orders, prevented many from joining their ranks. However from the time of its foundation until the loss of the Holy Land, its members took a gallant part in the very heavy fighting not only against the Turks, but alas also against their fellow Christians.
When the Holy Land was lost beyond all hope of recapture, the Teutonic Knights returned to Germany and carried on their activities against the heathen Poles. The other four Orders went to Cyprus, where they remained until the Turks invaded and defeated them. But it is of the greatest interest to us that upon its capture, the only Christian church that was allowed to ring its bells was the church of St. Nicholas Anglicorum, being the church of our Order. That building is still standing, but today it is used for secular purposes.
The four pictures you have observed in this Chapel are photographs of these ruins, and they may be considered equivalent to the tracing boards in a Masonic Lodge.
1st W.Kt., stands: Small though it was, the Order flourished and became of particular importance in the City of London; for It was ordered by the Mayor and Commonality in 1338 that the wickets of the City were not to be opened until the sixth hour sounded at the church of St. Thomas. Moreover, the Mayor on his Installation always began that great day by attending Mass in the Church of St. Thomas, afterwards proceeding with the members of his Company to St. Paul's Cathedral where a further service was held, and the new Mayor shown to the people who acclaimed him with a great shout. He and his fellows then returned to Guildhall where a banquet was prepared at his cost.
It would appear that, at some time, the Prior lost his leading position, for in 1279 we first hear mention of the Master of the whole Order of St. Thomas of Acon. The Church of St. Thomas in the City of London has been described as a stately edifice. In It the Livery Companies of London held many of their meetings and dispensed their charity for nearly four hundred years. In it, too, they were buried and held it in awed remembrance by their many successors. The last recorded admission to our Order before the present recension was that of Sir Richard de Tykehill, a chaplain from York, who on the 2nd February 1367 assumed the habit of the Order from the hands of Brother Hugh de Courteys. However surviving records are sparse, and we can be certain that the Order continued, for it was one of those dissolved by Henry VIII. As with many monasteries, King Henry VIII offered the Church of St. Thomas for sale. In memory of the illustrious Thomas, and the association of his father, Gilbert, with their trade, the Worshipful Company of Mercers purchased it. The original buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of London and now all that remains today to remind us of that building is the recumbent statue of Christ, which lies at the entrance of the new Mercers' Chapel.
As no doubt you are well aware, many ceremonies which you have enjoyed are matter of pure conjecture in regard to their origin. This Order is, however, based on historical facts in every part thereof, as may be confirmed by you through an examination of various documents and records dating back to the 13th century held in the library of the City of London in the Guildhall.
The Marshal takes the candidate to stand before the Master. The Deputy Marshal removes the candidate's seat, collects regalia (shells etc) and follows candidate.
Master: The mantle and the tunic of the Order should be white, the colour of innocence, with a red cross superimposed by a white cross, charged at Fesse point, with an escallop. I now invest you with that badge, the escallop shell, which I place upon the midpoint of the cross on your tunic. The Mantle should bear on the left breast a Greek Cross of red with a white cross superimposed, bearing a smaller escallop shell at Fesse point. You will also wear an Escallop shell as a badge on your cap. This badge is of bronze, the metal of humility, and will always remind you that the perfect Knight is always humble.
Provincial Officers wear silver badges, and Grand Officers wear gold badges. Before taking your obligation you received four blows to the left shoulder, right shoulder, leg and head. You will have noticed that they were given in the form of a cross. They serve to remind you of the four blows Thomas received from the four Knights who travelled to Canterbury and assassinated him. The sign of the Order is //// made with the right hand, to remind you of your Oath. This sign must be given when you address the Worthy Master or Eminent Prior. The password is A..., answered by Acon. The word is T....
Deputy Marshal collects warrant.
This is our Warrant or Charter from the Grand Master's Council of the Order, which is open for your inspection at this, or at any other, meeting of the Chapel. Finally, I am also pleased to hand you the Constitutions of the Order, a copy of the Provincial By-Laws, a copy of the By-Laws of this the ... Chapel, and a copy of the Ritual of the Order.
After the Master has handed the Representative candidate the Constitutions of the Order, a copy of the Provincial By-Laws, the By-Laws of the Chapel, and the Ritual of the Order he then presents similar to the other candidates.
You may now take your seat in the Chapel.
The Marshal conducts him to a seat.
Closing the Chapel
The Master rises four times to enquire.
Master: Sir Knights, I rise for the first time to enquire whether any Knight has aught to propose for the good of the Order or this, the ... Chapel in particular.
Sir ... of ..., (Secretary) are there any communications from the Grand Master's Council?
Master: Sir Knights, I rise for the second time to enquire whether any Knight has aught to propose for the good of the Order or this, the ... Chapel in particular.
Sir ... of ..., (Secretary) are there any communications from the Grand Preceptor's Council?
Master: Sir Knights, I rise for the third time to enquire whether any Knight has aught to propose for the good of the Order or this, the ... Chapel in particular.
Sir ... of ..., (Secretary) are there any general communications?
Master: Sir Knights, I rise for the fourth time to enquire whether any Knight has aught to propose for the good of the Order or this, the ... Chapel in particular.
Sir ... of ..., (Secretary) are there any apologies or any other business?
Master: Sir Knights, let the Chapel be closed.
Marshal: Sir Knights - Upstanding. (Note: NOT to Order.)
Prior: Brother Deputy Marshal, what is the last duty and care of a Knight of St. Thomas of Acon?
Dep. Mar.: To see that the Doorkeeper is at his post and in communication with the Sentry.
Prior: Command him to do his duty.
Dep. Mar.: Brother Doorkeeper, do your duty.
Doorkeeper opens the door, and checks the sentry is at his post, then closes the door. Doorkeeper keeps his sword drawn until the closing.
Doorkeeper: Brother Deputy Marshal, the Sentry is at his post.
Dep. Mar.: Eminent Prior, the Doorkeeper and the Sentry are at their posts.
Prior: Sir Knights, let us together remember the occasion of our own reception into our beloved Order and dwell on the words that our Saviour gave to us.
Each Working Knight takes a pace forward when it is his turn to read, and then standing still, reads his piece. He does not take a pace back afterwards, but stays forward so that the end of the readings all the Working Knights are one pace forward.
4th W.Kt.: Matthew Chap 11 vs 28. As our Saviour said - "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
3rd W.Kt.: Matthew Chap 25 vs 35, 36, 40. For I was an-hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and ye took me in;
Naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Verily, I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
2nd W.Kt.: John Chap 4 vs 7, 13, 14. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water;
Jesus saith unto her, "Give me to drink." And then he saith unto her "Whoever drinketh of this water will thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
1st W.Kt.: John Chap 6 vs 32-35, 38, 40. Then Jesus said to his disciples "Verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the world."
Then they said to him, "Lord, evermore give us this bread." And Jesus said unto them, "I am the bread of life. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me. And this is the will of Him that sent me, that everyone who seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life and I will raise him up at the last day."
Prior, facing west and covered: Sir Knights, what a joyful thing it is to dwell together in unity and, as we share this bread and water, let us ever remember that if a brother hungers, then feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink; if he be naked then clothe him and if he be in need then visit and assist him in his labours. All this do unto him and never forsake him.
The Prior, covered, collects both bread and water from the small table and holds them, facing west.
O Lord God, as we share these fruits of the Earth and of this world may we always keep in our hearts our aspirations through faith for a hope in due time to dwell with Thee in Thy heavenly kingdom, remembering the words of St. John who said, "And He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Prior then takes the plate of bread and cup of water and offers it to:
The Worthy Master at the Installation Meeting.
The Prior goes to the Worthy Master, escorted by the Marshal, who does not draw his sword. If Knights have been admitted as well as a new Worthy Master being Installed they may also be included after the Worthy Master.
The candidate(s) at an Admission Meeting – the Prior goes to the candidates escorted by the Marshal, who does not draw his sword.
The four Working Knights at any other Meeting the Prior goes to Knights escorted by the Marshal, who does not draw his sword. The Knights, starting with the 1st Working Knight. take a piece of bread and pass the plate with the bread to the Knight on their right with no turning of the body. The Marshal collects the plate and then the cup from the 4th Working Knight. The Prior and Marshal then march back to the east, where the Marshal will put down the plate and cup.
Marshal: Sir Knights - To order. The Knights draw swords.
Prior uncovers and goes to Altar, facing east: Let us pray. The Knights assume the attitude of prayer via the recover.
O Almighty and Ever-living God, we beseech Thee so to guide and strengthen us in our faith that, as we return and work in the world around us, we may practise those virtues of humility and service that we have been taught in this place. May our words and our actions ever proclaim Thy glory, through the teaching of Thy Son, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Omnes: Amen. The Knights remain for prayer.
Prior: Let us now repeat the words our Saviour taught us.
Omnes repeat the Lord's Prayer.
Omnes: Amen. Knights return to the carry via the recover.
Prior closes the Altar Bible; covers; extinguishes candles and resumes place.
Master: Sir Knights, the Chapel is closed.
Marshal: Sir Knights, the National Anthem.
Marshal: Sir Knights - Return swords.
Marshal: Sir Knights, the Closing Hymn.
Onward Christian soldiers! Marching as to war,
With the Cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ the royal Master leads against the foe;
Forward into battle, see His banners go.
Onward Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the Cross of Jesus going on before.
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng,
Blend with ours your Voices in the triumph song;
Glory, laud, and honour unto Christ the King,
This through countless ages men and angels sing,
Onward Christian soldiers!
Marching as to war,
With the Cross of Jesus going on before.
Marshal: Sir Knights, you will remain standing whilst the Worthy Master, accompanied by the Eminent Prior, retires.