Form of opening a Lodge of Most Excellent Masters
R.W.M. gavels once: Brethren, assist me to open this Lodge of Most Excellent Masters.
R.W.M.: Brother Senior Warden, what is our first care?
S.W.: To see that the Lodge is properly tyled.
R.W.M.: Direct that duty to be done.
S.W.: Brother Inner Guard, see that the Lodge is properly tyled.
Inner Guard goes to the door, opens it, and sees that the tyler is present. He then closes the door.
I.G.: Brother Senior Warden, the Lodge is properly tyled.
S.W.: Right Worshipful Master, the Lodge is properly tyled.
R.W.M.: To order, Brethren, as Most Excellent Masters.
All the Brethren stand to order with the Sign of a Most Excellent Master.
R.W.M.: Brother Senior Warden, are you a Most Excellent Master?
S.W.: I am, try me.
R.W.M.: How will you be tried?
S.W.: By the Key Stone.
R.W.M.: Why by the Key Stone?
S.W.: Because it was used for the completion of King Solomon's Temple, on the ceremonies at the dedication of which this Degree is founded.
R.W.M.: Where were you received and acknowledged a Most Excellent Master?
S.W.: Within the body of a duly constituted Lodge of Most Excellent Masters composed of four or more.
R.W.M.: When composed of four, of whom does it consist?
S.W.: The Right Worshipful Master, the Senior Warden and the Senior and Junior Deacons.
R.W.M.: Why is there not a Junior Warden?
S.W.: Just before the completion of the Temple our Grand Master Hiram Abiff was slain. At the dedication, therefore, no one having been appointed in his place, his seat was vacant and his light extinguished.
Chaplain: May He, to whom the earth and its fullness belong, pour down upon us the abudence of His grace, that serving Him with clean hands and pure hearts we may receive a blessing from the Lord, and at length be found worthy to stand in His Holy Place.
Omnes: So mote it be.
R.W.M.: I declare this Lodge of Most Excellent Masters duly opened.
All Brethren discharge the Sign of a Most Excellent Master.
R.W.M. gavels *** *** which is repeated by S.W. I.G. goes to door and knocks *** ***; Tyler responds.
Past Master opens V.S.L. on the Master's pedestal at 1 Kings, chapter 7 and adjusts Square and Compasses.
D.C.: Be seated, Brethren.
Ceremony of Reception
Tyler knocks *** *** * *.
I.G., gives Sn.: Right Worshipful Master, there is an alarm.
R.W.M.: Brother Inner Guard, ascertain the cause thereof.
I.G., discharges Sn., opens door of Lodge and addresses the Tyler: Whom have you there?
T.: Brother …, having received the necessary preceding degrees, wishes further promotion by being received and acknowledged a Most Excellent Master.
I.G.: By what right or benefit does he expect to obtain that important privilege?
T.: By benefit of the pass.
I.G.: Has he the pass?
T.: He has not, but I will give it for him.
T. communicates the pass to I.G.
I.G.: Wait while I report to the Right Worshipful Master.
I.G. closes door and goes to North of S.W.'s pedestal, gives Sn.: Right Worshipful Master, a worthy Brother, having received the necessary preceding degrees, stands without and wishes further promotion by being received and acknowledged a Most Excellent Master.
R.W.M.: By what right or benefit does he expect to obtain that important privilege?
I.G.: By the benefit of the pass.
R.W.M.: Has he the pass?
I.G.: He has not, Right Worshipful Master, but I will give it for him.
R.W.M.: Advance and communicate it.
I.G. discharges Sn. and advances directly to the front of R.W.M.'s pedestal, communicates pass aloud, returns to his station and faces East, giving Sn.
R.W.M.: The pass is correct. Let the candidate be admitted, Brother Deacons.
I.G. discharges Sn., opens door and admits Can. The Deacons receive Can. at the door. Door is closed and Can., flanked by Deacons is placed at the North of S.W., facing East.
S.D.: Salute the Right Worshipful Master as a Royal Master. Done
R.W.M.: Brother Senior Warden, you will direct the Senior Deacon to instruct the Candidate how to advance to the pedestal in due and ancient form.
S.W.: Brother Senior Deacon, you will instruct the Candidate how to advance to the pedestal in due and ancient form.
Senior and Junior Deacons conduct Can. to the North East and halt, facing South; S.D. then moves to the front of and faces Can.
S.D.: The method of advancing to the pedestal is by four steps. Three as in the Entered Apprentice Degree, that is, three steps of increasing length with the feet in the form of a square, and one additional step. For your instruction I will now demonstrate them and you will afterwards copy my example.
S.D. demonstrates the steps, returns to Can. and accompanies him while he takes the steps. As soon as Can. arrives at the pedestal in the East, J.D. places himself on his left.
R.W.M.: Brother …, you being duly qualified have prayed to be admitted to the secrets of a Most Excellent Master. Are you willing to take upon yourself an obligation to maintain the secrets of this Degree?
Can.: I am.
R.W.M.: Then you will kneel on both knees and place both hands on the V.S.L. on which are the Square and Compasses. R.W.M. gavels once.
All rise and stand to order with hand on heart; Ds. Cross wands.
R.W.M.: State your several names at full length and repeat after me:
"I, …, of my own free will and accord, in the presence of these Brethren, do hereby and hereon most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear that I will for ever keep and conceal the secrets belonging to this Degree of Most Excellent Master. I will not communicate them to anyone in the world, except to those who I shall have ascertained to be lawfully entitled to them, or in the body of a just and duly constituted Lodge. I will not confer, nor be present at the conferring of, this Degree upon anyone who is not a Select and Royal Master. All these points I solemnly swear to observe on my honour as a Most Excellent Master."
As a pledge of your fidelity you will seal that solemn obligation with your lips three times on the Volume of Sacred Law. Done. Companions discharge hand on heart.
Rise, duly obligated Most Excellent Master.
D.C.: Brethren, be seated.
R.W.M.: I will now communicate to you the secrets of this Degree.
The pass-word given for you by the Inner Guard on your entrance is Doric.
The Sign of a Most Excellent Master is given by placing both hands, clenched, on the left breast, then tearing them apart. Demonstrates. This alludes to the traditional penalty, contained in the former obligation, that you would have your heart torn from your breast, rather than improperly divulge any of the secrets of this Degree. The Sign is to be given on entering or retiring from a Lodge of Most Excellent Masters, or when addressing the Right Worshipful Master.
The grip of a Most Excellent Master is given by gripping the right hand of your Brother, with the thumb covering the knuckles of the first three fingers of that hand. Demonstrates. The word is Rabboni. At the completion of the Temple when King Solomon entered, he was so well pleased with the Master Builder that he took him by the right hand and exclaimed 'Hail Rabboni', which signifies Good Master or Most Excellent Master. Gives grip. The grip is called covered grip for as it covers the grips of the preceding Degrees, so should we, considering that man in his best state is subject to frailties and errors, endeavouring as Most Excellent Masters to cover his faults and imperfections with the broad mantle of charity and brotherly love releases grip. There is another Sign which is called the Sign of Admiration and is given thus: raise both hands, palms to the front, one slightly higher than the other, and the head slightly turned to the right demonstrates; it alludes to the wonder and admiration expressed by those of our ancient Brethren who were permitted to view the interior of that magnificent edifice which King Solomon had erected and was about to dedicate to the Most High.
R.W.M. sits, S.D. conducts Can. to the South-East facing North.
My worthy Brother, I may now inform you that this Degree has special reference to that important period with the Temple erected by King Solomon was completed and consecrated in all its glory and beauty.
The Masonic tradition, upon which this Degree is founded, is described in the Ancient Book of Constitutions in the following words: "The Temple was finished in the short space of seven years and six months to the amazement of the whole world, when the placing of the Key Stone in the Principal Arch was celebrated by the Fraternity with great joy. But their joy was soon interrupted by the sudden death of their Master Hiram Abiff, whom they decently interred near the Temple according to ancient usage. After they had mourned for Hiram Abiff, and the tabernacle of Moses, with its holy relics, had been lodged in the Temple, King Solomon, in a general assembly, dedicated it with solemn prayer and costly sacrifice, while to the strains of finest music the vast congregation raised their praises to Jehovah.
S.W. and D.C. leave their stations and move to the Ark of the Covenant, where S.W. takes post on the North side and D.C. on the South Side.
Upon placing the Ark of the Covenant in the most Holy place, the glory of the Lord filled the House.
Together S.W. and D.C. remove the Veil from the Ark of the Covenant, fold it and D.C. takes it, and disposes of it. S.W. and D.C. return to their stations and sit.
This was the time chosen by King Solomon for bestowing upon many of his most skilful workmen a distinguishing mark of his approval. He then instituted, as a special order of merit, the Degree of Most Excellent Master.
Into this Degree, my Brother, you have now been admitted. Endeavour, therefore, to carry out the teachings of those Degrees in Masonry through which you have already passed. Let the light of moral truth, virtue and uprightness shine through your example before all men; so will the Brethren of this Lodge never have cause to regret having received and acknowledged you as a Most Excellent Master.
S.D. conducts Can. to R.W.M. R.W.M. offers congratulations to Can.: You are now entitled to take your seat in a Lodge of Most Excellent Masters.
S.D. conducts Can. to his seat.
Form of closing a Lodge of Most Excellent Masters
R.W.M. gavels once: Brethren, assist me to close this Lodge of Most Excellent Masters.
R.W.M.: Brother Senior Warden, what is the care of every Most Excellent Master?
S.W.: To prove the Lodge close tyled.
R.W.M.: Direct that duty to be done.
S.W.: Brother Inner Guard, you will prove the Lodge close tyled.
Inner Guard goes to the door and knocks *** ***.
Tyler replies *** ***.
I.G.: Brother Senior Warden, the Lodge is close tyled.
S.W.: Right Worshipful Master, the Lodge is close tyled.
R.W.M.: Brother Senior Warden, what is the next care?
S.W.: To see that the Brethren appear to order as Most Excellent Masters.
R.W.M.: Brethren, to order as Most Excellent Masters.
All Brethren stand to order with the Sn. of a Most Excellent Master.
Chaplain: Before closing the Lodge, let us, with all humility and reverence, express our gratitude to the Great Overseer of the Universe for His divine protection throughout our labours.
Omnes: So mote it be.
R.W.M.: Brother Senior Warden, our labours being ended, you have my command to close the Lodge. Gavels *** ***.
S.W.: In the name of the Great Overseer of the Universe and by command of the Right Worshipful Master, I close this Lodge. Gavels *** ***.
All Brethren discharge the Sn. I.G. goes to door and knocks *** ***. Tyler responds *** ***.
I.P.M. closes V.S.L. and replaces Square and Compasses with hand on V.S.L.: Brethren, nothing now remains but according to ancient custom to lock up our secrets in a safe repository, uniting in the act Fidelity-Fidelity-Fidelity; Fidelity-Fidelity-Fidelity.
D.C.: Be seated, Brethren.