The Lodge Secretary or Chapter Scribe E is the officer most commonly associated in the mason’s mind with works of reference, but as Lodge or Chapter Director of Ceremonies there are a number of publications useful to us on a regular or occasional basis.
The Book of Constitutions is comprehensive and so is large and unwieldy (but please see below concerning the electronic version) to master in its entirety. However, a printed copy of Rules 5 and 6 (the ranks, precedence, titles and salutes of Grand Officers) is a useful thing to keep to hand; and a knowledge of the workings of Rule 165 in conjunction with the Lodge bylaws (number of black balls to exclude a candidate for Initiation or Joining) vital to support the Worshipful Master or First Principal in the conduct of ballots.
The “Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft” booklet is packed with useful information for the Director of Ceremonies concerning dress, precedence, and regalia; it is also available electronically. The UGLE Yearbook is the authoritative guide to the ranks and seniority of Grand Officers and is especially useful when your Lodge is visited by numbers of Grand Officers to plan seating and their placement in the recession. The Metropolitan Yearbook holds useful contact information not only for the officers and support staff in Metropolitan, but of approved meeting and dining places.
VW Bro Graham Redman DepGSec’s book “Masonic Etiquette Today” bridges the gap between the provisions of the Book of Constitutions and the day-today practice in our Lodges and Chapters. It covers everything from dress to ballots, and from behaviour to rank and precedence, and is for many of us the ‘goto’ source of guidance for our questions. Ritual books are an obvious reference work for any Director of Ceremonies; a completely up-to-date copy will best match that which our newest members are learning from. If you would like to know what information your Initiates and Exaltees are being presented with at the end of their ceremonies, extra copies of the Initiate’s and Exaltee’s Guides are available from the Metropolitan office for a small charge, or can be downloaded from Porchway. But these days our bookshelves are not only wood and paper but virtual and online.
The physical version of the Book of Constitutions has the advantage that we should all already possess a copy. However, it is bulky, difficult to search and often out of date. The online version – a PDF downloadable from the UGLE website – on the other hand is portable – so we can have copies on our home and work computers and our mobile phones - electronically searchable, up-to-date and free. Royal Arch Regulations and the “Information” pamphlet are available from the same source with similar benefits.
While most find the physical ritual books the easiest to work from there are secure PDF versions of some of the most popular Craft and Royal Arch rituals available to purchase. Many find these handy for questions from members when away from their bookshelf. The lectures and ‘nuggets’ on Solomon and Porchway will be well known to all of us. Aside from their use in a planned fashion for individual advancement or to fill a ‘blank’ meeting, a hard-copy of one or two in the regalia case can be useful to have to hand when a candidate is running late or a gap otherwise needs to be filled.
Finally, the MetGDC’s page on Porchway - in no way prescriptive of how we manage the ritual and protocol of our private units - has a number of articles and checklists that will hopefully be of use.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 41 July 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 41.