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more light #312

A Lecture On The various Rituals Of Freemasonry From The 10th Century

by Ed Halpaus
Grand Lodge Education Officer
Grand Lodge of A. F. & A. M. of Minnesota

Dear Masonic Student,

I received the article below from the Newsletter of  Mesaba Lodge #255 A.F. & A.M. of MN,  located in Hibbing Minnesota. They have a fine newsletter, and along with the article was a link to a very good web site to explore. I think you might enjoy some of the information you can find on that web site. – Ed


Delivered in the Witham Lodge, LincoIn, 1863, by THE REV. G. OLIVER, D.D. PAST D.P.G.M. FOR LINCOLNSHIRE; Honorary Member of numerous Lodges and Literary Societies in various parts of the World.


It is rather late in life for me to appear before a Lodge of intelligent Masons in the capacity of a lecturer; and it is only the respect I entertain for Masonry that could induce me to do so. And even under the influence of that feeling, I should scarcely have ventured to solicit your attendance this evening, if I had not been under an impres sion that I could tell you something which is not generally known to the Fraternity. Indeed, I am satisfied, from the general tenor of my Masonic correspondence, that there are many Brethren in England who would travel over half the island, and think themselves well paid for their trouble, to acquire the information I am now about to communicate to you; not only on the ancient Rituals, but on various signs, tokens; and observances used by the Fraternity ‘many years ago, and now entirely forgotten.

During the last century, several revisions of the Ritual took place, each being an improvement on its predecessor, and all based on the primitive Masonic Lecture which was drawn up in the tenth century, and attached to the York Constitutions. This Lecture, to which I shall first call your attention, was in doggerel rhyme; a kind of composition which was very popular amongst our Saxon ancestors in the time of Athelstane. About the latter end of the fourteenth century, it was carefully translated from the Saxon for the use of the York Grand Lodge; and the MS. of that date is now in the British Museum. This invaluable document contains copious rules and regulations for the observance of the Craft, and is so curious, that I shall give you a specimen of it, to show the unchangeable character of the Order. It thus describes the duty of the Master:-

The first article of good Masonry Shows that the Master must surely be Both steadfast, trusty, and also true
His place he never then shall rue.
He must, neither for love nor dread,
Of neither party to take mede;
Whether he lord or fellow be,
Of him to take no kind of fee;
But as a judge to stand upright,
And then his conduct will be bright.

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Last modified: March 22, 2014