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Masonic Burial Ritual

Rotating Compass & Square


Sam Cantey Revised Masonic Burial Service

(Adopted December, 1959 by The Grand Lodge of Texas, A.F.&A.M.)

Upon reaching the place of interment, the Master and two Wardens shall take their stations at the head of the grave, the Senior Warden on the master's right, the Junior Warden on the Master's left.

Worshipful Master: Let us unite with our Chaplain in prayer.

Chaplain: Unto Thee, O God, Father of all men, do we come in our hour of grief and bereavement. Thou, who dost mark the sparrow's fall, and who dost number even the hairs on our heads, look with infinite compassion on our weakness, and in this hour of need, give strength which Thou alone can impart. As we commit the body of our Brother to its resting place, may we realize how weak is every human arm, and may we trust in Thy might alone. Grant Thy grace to these dear ones this day and may Thy comfort be theirs as they await that day when death shall be swallowed up in victory. Amen.

Response: (By the Brethren assembled): So mote it be.

Worshipful Master: Loved ones, friends and Brethren: We assemble today to perform the last duty the living can render the dead. We pay our tribute of love and esteem to our departed friend and Brother, who was a beloved member of __________ Lodge, Number _____, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. We mourn the loss of our Brother whose spirit has been summoned into the presence of the Lord and Father of all men. While we are assured that the storms of life can no longer disturb him, we should consider the certainty of death, and the vanity of all earthly ambitions.

From time immemorial, it has been the custom among the Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, at the request of a Brother or of his family, to perform the last rites with the usual ceremonies of the Craft. In conformity to this usage, we are assembled in the character of Masons to offer to the memory of our Brother, this tribute of our affection.

The passing of our Brother from the cares and troubles of this transitory existence has removed another link from the fraternal chain by which we are united man to man. May we who survive him be more strongly bound in the ties of friendship and union. Unto the earth we consign the body of our deceased Brother. We trustingly leave his spirit in the hands of Him who doith all things well. With those of his immediate family we sincerely and deeply and most affectionately sympathize, and we place you in the arms of our Heavenly Father who grants his love and protection to those who put their trust in him.

When we look about us we see the marks of change and decay written upon every living thing. The cradle and the coffin stand side by side -- and, it is a solemn truth that as soon as we begin to live, that moment we begin to die. Yet how seldom do we seriously consider our own approaching end? We go on from design to design, add hope to hope, and lay out the plans for the employment of many years. Then the messenger of death comes when we least expect him. What are all the externals of majesty, the pride of wealth, or charms of beauty when nature has paid her last just debt? In the grave all fallacies are detected, all ranks leveled, all distinctions are done away. Here the scepter of the prince and the staff of the beggar lie side by side.

Let us see to it, and so regulate our lives by the plumb line of justice, ever squaring our actions by the square of virtue, that when the Grand Warden of Heaven shall call us from our labors we may be found ready. Let us cultivate the noble tenets of our profession -- Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Then when our summons draws nigh, let us with joy obey and go forth from our labors on earth to eternal refreshment in the presence of an All Wise Governor, where because of an unshaken faith in the merits of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, we shall gain admission into the celestial Lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides.

Then the Worshipful Master, holding the apron, will continue:

The lambskin or white apron -- the first gift of Freemasonry to our departed Brother, is an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason. This I now deposit in the grave of our Brother. (Deposits it upon the casket) We are reminded by this of the universal dominion of death. The arm of friendship cannot interpose to prevent his coming; the wealth of the world cannot purchase exemption; nor will the innocence of youth or the charms of beauty or the serenity of age change his purpose.

Then the Worshipful Master shall hold the evergreen in his hand and continue:

This evergreen is an emblem of enduring faith in the immortality of the soul. by it we are reminded that we have a life within us that shall survive the grave, and which shall never, never, never die. By it we are reminded that we, too, like our Brother, shall soon be clothed in the habiliments of death, yet through our belief in the mercy of God, we may confidently hope that our souls will bloom in eternal spring.

The Master and the two Wardens shall deposit the evergreen in the grave or upon the casket.

The Worshipful Master and Wardens then shall say:

Worshipful Master: We consign the body of our Brother to the earth.

Senior Warden: We cherish his memory here.

Junior Warden: We commend his spirit to the God who gave it.

The Worshipful master here takes the sand or earth (or petals of flowers) in his hand, and as he repeats the following, he shall deposit a small quantity in the grave or upon the casket.

Worshipful Master: The dust shall return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.

The two Wardens will repeat this ceremony with the same words:

The dust shall return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return to God who gave it.

The Worshipful Master then says:

Worshipful Master: Let us unite in prayer.

Almighty God, we now turn from this solemn service to the duties of life. As we go, we pray, O God, that Thy hand will lead us in all the paths our feet will be called upon to tread, and when the journey of this life is ended, may light from our immortal home illuminate the dark valley and voices of loved ones, gone before, welcome us home to that house not made with hands eternal in the heavens. Amen.

Response by the Brethren: So mote it be.

If desired, the Lord's Prayer may be offered by the Brethren present.

The Worshipful Master shall then pronounce the following benediction:

Worshipful Master: May the blessings of Heaven rest upon us and all regular Masons. May brotherly love prevail, and every moral and social virtue cement us. Amen.

Response by the Brethren: So mote it be.

The Worshipful Master shall then state:

Worshipful Master: This concludes the public memorial to our Brother.

Then the non-public portion commences...

Further Reading:

Memory Work - Masonic Rituals and Ciphers