With their own distinctive terminology, structures and practices, each masonic Order is different from the others. Here Brian Price breaks down the origins, requirements and organisation of Royal and Select Masters.
When was it constituted?
The Grand Council of Royal and Select Masters of England and Wales and its Districts and Councils Overseas was constituted on 29 July 1873 by four councils chartered two years earlier by the Grand Council of New York. They organised themselves into a sovereign body under the patronage of Canon Portal, Past Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, who was installed as the Grand Master of the Order. After World War II, the Order grew rapidly and there are now over 250 councils and nearly 5,000 members.
Where is it based?
The original councils met in Red Lion Square in London, but moved to Great Queen Street (to today’s Connaught Rooms). The Order is now administered from Mark Masons’ Hall at 86 St James’s Street, London.
Who can join the Order?
It welcomes Master Masons in good standing who are also Companions of the Royal Arch, and Mark Master Masons. Members are called Companions.
What is the emblem of the Order?
It is a stylised depiction of the Ark of the Covenant surrounded by a triangle and the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Beneath is a scroll bearing the motto ‘Ego Alpha et Omega Sum’ - meaning ‘I am alpha and omega’.
What is the relationship between the Craft and Royal and Select Masters?
Although UGLE’s position is that ‘pure Ancient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more’, during an address in 2007 the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, acknowledged the existence of many masonic Orders and accepted their sovereignty. He included Royal and Select Masters as one of those which had a role in providing Freemasons with additional scope for extending their research in interesting and enjoyable ways.
Is the country divided into Provinces in the same way as the Craft?
Yes, although in this Order they are called Districts. Each is headed by a District Grand Master and a team of District Grand Officers. And individual units are referred to as councils rather than lodges.
Does the Order have distinctive regalia?
It has crimson and gold regalia with a triangular apron. The Grand Officers collar and apron bear the emblem of the Order of the Silver Trowel. The Order also features some distinctive jewels.
Who runs it?
The Order is controlled by a Grand Council headed by the Grand Master, Deputy Grand Master and a Principal Conductor of the Work. The current Grand Master is Most Illustrious Companion Kessick Jones.
Isn’t it sometimes called the ‘Cryptic Order’?
The four core degrees (with ceremonies based on the Old Testament Solomonic legends) are Select Master, Royal Master, Most Excellent Master and Super Excellent Master. They are sometimes referred to as the ‘Cryptic Degrees’, and the Order as ‘Cryptic’, as the traditional history of the Degree of Select Master references the underground ‘crypt’ of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, which also features in Royal Arch and other masonic ceremonies.
I have a friend who’s a member overseas. Is he allowed to visit here?
So long as he’s taken the four core degrees of the Order in a recognised jurisdiction – subject to invitation, of course. However, in many jurisdictions, the degree of Most Excellent Master is not a ‘Cryptic Degree’ but part of the Royal Arch.
The Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons (GLMMM) are seeking to recruit two talented individuals to perform the duties of Assistant to the Grand Tyler
You will be expected to work as part of a flexible team which will consist of the two advertised roles plus the Grand Tyler. For the majority of the time the successful applicant will be based at Mark Masons’ Hall and work on a shift based system, to be agreed with the successful applicants. Duties will include: Setting up Temples, maintenance, repair and servicing of Masonic furnishings, assisting with room bookings, locker management and equipment inventory, providing cover on the Reception desk, providing 'First Response' in cases of health, safety, first aid or fire, assisting with banking and lost property management plus, such other duties as may be required by the Grand Tyler.
The successful applicant will be required to have good computer literacy and be familiar with the Microsoft Office suite. They will also need to possess good interpersonal skills and be happy and confident in meeting and communicating with members, visitors and colleagues. A lot of the time the role will include being the public face of Mark Masons’ Hall and an ambassador for the building and the organisation. A working knowledge of most of our Masonic Orders would be beneficial. You will need to be within reasonable commuting distance of the office.
What's in it for you?
Employees benefit from private healthcare, life assurance, pension scheme and a range of other company benefits, in addition to a generous basic salary. You will be given full training and support in order do your work to the high standard that will be expected. The role does not carry any Masonic Rank.
If this opportunity sounds like the challenge you are looking for then we would be pleased to hear from you. Please send your CV and covering letter/supporting statement to us at the email address below. CVs sent without a covering letter or supporting statement will not be considered.
Closing date for applications is 23 January 2019. If you have not been contacted by 2 February 2019 then you have not been selected for interview. Initial Interviews – Early February 2019
With their own terminology and structures, masonic Orders offer new opportunities for growth, development and friendship in Freemasonry. We look at the origins, requirements and beliefs of the Knights Templar
When did it begin?
The earliest records of the masonic Knights Templar can be found in the minutes of the Chapter of Friendship in Portsmouth dated 1778. At that time, the degree was worked under lodges and chapters warranted by the Antient Grand Lodge using a variety of rituals. Lancashire had 10 of the first 40 encampments (now called Preceptories).
When did the Knights Templar become popular?
In 1791, Templar Masonry entered a new era with the formation of its first Grand Conclave (now Great Priory). Thomas Dunckerley was Grand Master. At that time, there were just seven encampments in existence; it wasn’t until after 1851 that the Order began to expand in response to the standardisation of the ritual.
Did the masonic Knights Templar fight in the Crusades?
There is no historical connection between the medieval Christian military order and the masonic body known as the United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta of England and Wales and its Provinces overseas – more commonly referred to as the Knights Templar.
What does the Order believe in?
Thomas Dunckerley wanted to promote a concept of chivalry and Christianity within a masonic framework.
So is it open to all faiths now?
The Order is one of several in masonry in which membership is open only to Freemasons who profess a belief in Christianity.
How many members are there?
The Order numbers just under 12,500.
How do I join?
Membership can be achieved through the recommendation of an existing member.
Is it difficult to progress?
Having joined the Knights Templar, the next step is to take the Malta Degree, which is a two-stage process: first becoming a Knight of St Paul by taking the Mediterranean Pass, and then becoming a Knight of Malta.
Can anyone from the Craft become a member?
To become part of the Order, a brother must be a Master Mason and a member of the Royal Arch.
Who heads up the Knights Templar?
The Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master is Paul Raymond Clement, who joined the Order in 1984 and was installed as its Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master in May 2017.
Where is the nerve centre?
The headquarters of the Order is Mark Masons’ Hall, St James’s, London, from where all administration activities are conducted.
What causes does it support?
The Order has a favoured charity that members have supported since 1915 – the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital, which is the main provider of charitable eye care in the West Bank, Gaza and the East Jerusalem area.
Simon Wills, General Manager of Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay, Devon, had invited Ian to view the latest introduction to their collection – an exact replica of the iconic Freemasons' Hall building in Great Queen Street. Ian was also featured in his dress regalia as part of the new model demonstration.
These models had taken many months to build and also included in their new City display is a model of Mark Masons Hall.
The village, which has been open since 1963, houses hundreds of model scenes of famous and iconic buildings which can be found around the country, surrounded by waterfalls and water features and includes over 13,000 miniature residents who live there.
Simon also kindly offered to donate 50% of the entrance fee from Devonhsire Freemasons and their families to help fund the MCF Masonic Charitable Foundation Devonshire Festival 2023.
An opportunity has arisen to recruit a talented and energetic individual to join the senior management team at Mark Masons' Hall as an Assistant Grand Secretary
The successful candidate will have a proven track record in management; possess strong interpersonal skills, be an effective communicator (written and orally) and an accomplished administrator. A good working knowledge of MS Office applications is essential.
Membership of the Orders administered from Mark Masons' Hall would be a distinct advantage.
Primary responsibilities include:
- Assisting the Grand Secretary in the daily running of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, having specific responsibility for the administration of several of the Orders administered from Mark Masons' Hall
- Dealing with a wide range of issues relating to the Constitutions, Ritual and Ceremonial of designated Orders
- Assisting the Grand Secretary with the preparation for meetings of various Boards and Committees and acting as Minute Secretary, as appropriate
- Representing GLMMM at national and international events. This aspect of the role will involve significant UK and Overseas travel as well as evening and weekend working
This is not a conventional ‘9 to 5’ role as the successful candidate will be required to work outside normal office hours to fulfil the duties associated with the post.
A competitive salary is available to the successful Candidate (based on experience) together with a comprehensive benefits package to include stakeholder pension and private medical insurance.
The deadline for receipt of applications is Wednesday 23 May 2018.
A family tradition
May Fair Lodge, No. 8294, which meets at Mark Masons’ Hall in London, has a strong family history with no less than 13 father and son relationships in its short 46-year history, three of which were sons initiating their fathers. The tradition has continued with a double initiation of Matthew Flynn and Dilip Singh Dhanjal, each aged 21.
A visit by Sandy Khouri, secretary of the Lodge of Freedom & Courtesy No.4762, to his family in Italy has led to the prospect of a twinning of his lodge, which meets at Mark Masons’ Hall in London, with the Lodge Raimondo di Sangro No.167.
After his visit to the Barletta lodge, Khouri invited a group of Italian masons to a Lodge of Freedom & Courtesy meeting in London, where they also visited the Grand Temple. As a result, formal application has been made for the two lodges to be twinned.
While organ music has become part of the rich fabric of masonic meetings around the country, Naunton Liles wonders whether lodges should seek to preserve these historic but expensive instruments
Look at any masonic music books in use today and you’ll find that the music you sing in your lodge would be familiar to your grandfather and those before him. Many lodges have a reluctant organist who has been persuaded to play a little and is unlikely to introduce fresh ideas while the senior grandees keep reminding everyone ‘that’s not how we used to do it’. So we sing music that is well known and well proven – we all enjoy singing familiar tunes.
Outside Freemasonry, the organ has been constrained in its development by cost. No church council or town hall likes spending money on organs when other priorities seem more worthy. It is the same within Freemasonry. If a masonic hall committee has to choose between a stairlift and a new organ, mandatory legislation and similar pressures push the organ aside.
So why do we continue to have music in masonic ceremonies? Most people agree music enhances the occasion and a private lodge meeting without music can be a bit dull. Our annual assemblies of Grand Lodge and of Provincial Grand Lodge and in all masonic orders need to be occasions of great dignity and splendour, and to give pleasure to those present.
Usually a venue is chosen with an organ suitable for playing processional music, fanfares for the high spots and background music to maintain a suitable atmosphere. For our big showcase events in London, the Grand Temples at Freemasons’ Hall and Mark Masons Hall are best. The history and costs of the instruments found in these buildings demonstrate two very different approaches to organ music.
In 1933, organ builder Henry Willis & Sons was commissioned to construct an instrument fitting for the new art deco building in Covent Garden. It was agreed the instrument would be heard but not seen, so it was placed behind grills. This concentrates the sound at one end and when accompanying 1,500 people, it can be a bit deafening for those occupying the tiered seats in the east of the temple. Another feature was to conceal the console so the organist was not higher than the Grand Master. There is many a non-conformist chapel where the organ occupies a prominent place and a flamboyant organist can outshine the preacher. Not so in Freemasonry.
The downside at the Grand Temple in Freemasons’ Hall is that the organist has no line of sight. Forty years later, CCTV was installed, with one camera and one screen. The organists could then see the assembled brethren, but not much of the west door where processions enter, so you will always see a second organist alongside advising the player what is going on. The 1970s equipment has been replaced by a flatscreen colour monitor, but still there is only one camera. By contrast, cathedrals have a split-screen system whereby the organist can see four views as the ceremony unfolds – but this costs money.
In 1933, organ builders were much exercised by the demands of the cinema, theatre and town hall clients. The thinking of the time was that you could produce a huge sound with fewer pipes by doubling up their use in an ingenious manner. The proposal for Freemasons’ Hall included this kind of scheme and the organ has a lot of sound in a compact space.
We live in a time when many people think any object worthy of its period – Willis’s design is an excellent example of mid-1930s workmanship – should not be altered or improved. Indeed, grant funds usually insist this is so. But few would disagree that a change that enabled the pipework to speak out more clearly, and enabled some additional resources, would be sensible if we are to serve the next generations well.
The Grand Temple is quite different at Mark Masons Hall. A long auditorium that seats four hundred, it has a relatively low ceiling, lots of carpet and a propensity to attract men in heavy suits. The acoustic is dead by comparison with any church. As a Grade II-listed building of great beauty, we are not permitted to alter the appearance by installing a pipe organ. An electronic organ was in use for around twenty-five years and in February this year it was replaced by the very latest digital organ.
Good digital technology has now been with us for a decade or more and a market has emerged far removed from the disco and home organ. It is said you can blindfold the experts in the back of a church, play them a pipe organ and a new digital organ, and they’d be hard-pressed to pick the imposter.
The process of acquiring a new organ for Mark Masons Hall was lengthy. Many orders, Provinces, lodges and individual brethren gave generously to raise the necessary funds. Three leading makers then submitted proposals for a digital organ and the contract was awarded to Wyvern, which builds its organs in the UK using mainly British components.
Digital organs now use a sampling technique. For this they record each individual note from the pipework of an organ of merit. During installation and commissioning much time was spent at night, when the surroundings were quiet, to voice each stop. It is this that makes the organ so much better than a standard one. Care was also taken to position the speakers to best effect.
Not every masonic temple can afford a custom-built organ and the story so far has described those used for important Grand Lodge ceremonies. Back at home, you may find a more modest instrument, but even these can be entirely suitable for our purposes. So, should we preserve and repair the old pipe organ or buy an electronic one? My guess is there are but a dozen pipe organs in masonic premises that are worth the cost of rebuilding, especially now that such good results can be achieved with digital equipment.
Within Freemasonry there is a shortage of funds, so it is prudent to go for the best sound per pound, and there is a compelling argument in favour of digital instruments for masonic purposes.
blow by blow: HISTORY OF THE PIPES
The origins of the organ can be traced back to the third century BC, when an octave of pipes was first strung together and attached to some fireside bellows. However, it took until the twelfth century AD to refine the organ into something workable that would become the ‘must-have’ accessory for every monastery. By the seventeenth century complex instruments were in use that would be broadly familiar to us today. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a religious revival and increased wealth led to the building of new churches. At the same time, Freemasonry expanded rapidly and organs were installed in every temple that was built.
By the end of the century there were many lodges and plenty of organists. Many people had a piano at home and a generation of Freemasons was born who were not bashful about singing. Small pipe organs appeared everywhere and survived because of their relative simplicity, and several masonic temples continue to use them a hundred years later.
Letters to the Editor - FreemasonryToday No.18 - SUMMER 2012
To the great majority of brethren, the difference in the tone of a pipe organ and the modern digital ones would certainly be unnoticeable, and for myself I look forward to being able to use the new one at Mark Masons’ Hall.