Dispatches from Maine

Just another person of little note writing about ordinary things. That I reside in Maine is icing on the cake.

01 November 2006

History of Masonic Ritual in Maine

With XMap 5.0 ready for ship, the time has come for much needed time off. I chose to spend my first day of rest at the fine library at the Grand Lodge of Maine. During my class on the history of ritual for the Maine Masonic College, I realized I knew next to nothing about Masonic ritual in this great State. At least nothing outside of my own nine years of Masonry. For someone who claims to love ritual so much, I realized there is so little I really know.

The project I have undertaken, therefore, is to gather all of the information I can on the development of Masonic ritual in the State of Maine. I am starting by reading the proceedings of the Grand Lodge from 1820 - 2006 to build a list of all of the information they offer about the development of our ritual. There are so many changes during the first decade transcribing all of the changes for the first seven years took two hours. The events were tremendously interesting, but among these early tidbits there are two particularly interesting items.

First, the position of Grand Lecturer was filled in for the first time on 13 January 1826 by Brother Samuel Kidder. He was examined for his excellence in the work by R.W. Bros. Samuel Fessenden, Charles Fox and Simon Greenleaf (yep, the Simon Greenleaf). At the time the lodges themselves had to pay for Bro. Kidder to attend on their meetings and teach them the correct ritual. The Grand Lodge was quick to act, however, and requested that these same Brethren explore the possibility of the Grand Lodge employing the Grand Lecturer, bearing the cost for the several Lodges.

The Committee of the subject of instruction in lectures and work, respectfully report, That they have examined Brother Samuel Kidder, and being satisfied that he was worthy, well qualified, and skilled to teach, they gave him a certificate of which a copy is herewith annexed.

Samuel Fessenden,
Charles Fox, Committee
Simon Greenleaf,

We the undersigned, a committee of the Grand Lodge of Maine, appointed for this purpose, do hereby certify, that we have examined the lectures and work of Bro. Samuel Kidder, in the first degrees of Masonry, and are satisfied with the same as correct; and we recommend to the several Lodges under this jurisdiction to avail themselves of his instruction so far as they may need the same, until the next annual communication of the Grand Lodge in January ensuing, at which time it is understood that the subject may receive further attention.

Simon Greenleaf and Charles Fox.

(Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Maine, Vol. 1, pg. 132)

Second, the ritual for the reception of the District Deputy Grand Master and other Grand Officers was set on 10 January 1823. The ceremony is almost entirely the same as we observe today with the difference that there is no Acting Grand Marshal in the old ritual. The Lodge Marshal performed all of the functions which we now associated with the Acting Grand Marshal. The old ceremony makes no mention of support from a suite of Past Masters and Grand Officers, but that may well be implied, further research being required on my part. The District Deputy Grand Master was also to be escorted out of the Lodge by a procession when he was ready to leave.

The committee appointed to report on the ceremonies to be observed in subordinate Lodges, on receiving official visits from District Deputy Grand Masters and other Grand Officers, made the following Report, viz:

The committee to whom was referred the subject of considering the proper ceremony to be observed and paid by the Lodges to the District Deputy Grand Masters when the visit them report –

The District Deputy Grand Masters shall give previous reasonable notice of their intended visit, to the master of the Lodge, who shall summon the same, and provide on of the ante-rooms, or some other convenient place within the Lodge building, to which the D.D.G. Master will repair and inform the Lodge by their Marshal that he is in waiting. The Lodge being opened, the Master shall then direct the Marshal, accompanied by the Deacons and Stewards with their rods, to wait on the D.D.G. Master and inform him that the Lodge is ready to receive him, and conduct him to the door of the Lodge in the following order:

1s. Marshal
2nd Stewards
3rd Deacons
4th District Deputy Grand Master

On arriving at the door of the Lodge the Marshal makes demand, and the door being opened, he announces “the District Deputy Grand Master,” and they enter the Lodge; the Brethren arise, the Stewards and Deacons halt within and open to the right and left, crossing their rods, the District Deputy Grand Master enters between them, preceded by the Marshal; being entered the Brethren salute him in ancient form, the Marshal conducts him to the East and the Master offers him a chair. The visit being ended, and the D.D.G. Master signifying his intention to retire, he is conducted to his chamber in the same manner, the Stewards and Deacons halting as above at the door of his apartment only. And the substance of the above order will be observed when the D.D.G. Master visits by deputation of a Past master or Master of a Lodge, except that such Deputy will not take the chair, but sit uncovered at the right of the Master.

Charles Fox,
George Thatcher, Jr.

Voted, That the foregoing Report be accepted.

(Proceedings of the Grand Lodge of Maine, Vol. 1, pg. 81-82)

Labels: , ,


At 02 December, 2006 09:20 , Blogger Doug said...

Brother Christian - I have a copy of the "Freemasons Monitor or Illustrations of Masonry" by Thomas Smith Webb with a printing date of 1805

Would you be interested in perusing this volume?

At 02 December, 2006 12:21 , Blogger Christian Ratliff said...

It would be a pleasure to have a look at the book. I imagine it must be quite close to Preston's Illustrations at that point. Which edition is it?

At 02 December, 2006 19:04 , Blogger Doug said...

It does not list an edition number, only that is "A New and Improved Addition"

The Preface has a date at the end of September 26th, 1797

The first page after the title page has what appears to be a "copyrite" notice and says "That on the fourteenth day of November, in the thirtieth year of Independence of the United States of America". I am assuming this means 1805.

The next page is a message from the "Grand Royal Arch Chpter of The State of Rhode Island" and then on the next line "Providence, July 7, A.L. 5802" (or 1802) indicating a committee had been appointed, reviewed the text and found that it is replete with useful information and is fully entitled to the Sanction of the Grand Chapter. After the names of the committe recommends it to "the attention and study of all the members of the fraternity"

I picked it up at an estate sale some 30 years ago along with some other masonic books. I freely admit that I have only thumbed through it and have not given it my "attention and study"

Perhaps we can discuss it at GL in May or at some other function we both might attend.
Doug Nelson


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home