Annual Memorial Service
Grand Lodge AF&AM of Connecticut
Masonic Culture & Public Relations Committee
WM: Opens Lodge; conducts business; calls a short recess.
During recess, drape altar with a black cloth (place jewels above cloth), bring in a table of sufficient size, place it east of the altar (and slightly north), place candles in holders in triangular design (or designs, depending on number of deceased) with one candle for each departed Brother.
WM: * (Calls Lodge to order.) Brethren, let us proceed with our Memorial Service to the honor and memory of our departed Brothers.
WM: Brother Stewards, you will proceed to light the candles.
Stewards go west of the altar, bow to WM and proceed to light the candles. Organist plays Pleyel's Hymn while candles are being lighted and as Stewards return to their respective chairs.
WM: (Standing; reads slowly) My Brethren, as we meet here this evening, some of our faithful Brothers will not answer the roll call. Let us express our respect and esteem for these Brethren who have laid down their working tools of life and have been admitted with that the Temple of the Celestial Lodge above, where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides. (WM seats himself)
SW: (Stands after a short pause)
We recall their love, where there was hatred;
Their pardon, where there was guilt;
Their faith, where there was doubt;
Their hope, where there was despair;
Their joy, where there was sadness;
Their deeds, loyalties, and understanding;
Their struggles, fears, and dreams,
Which we shared with them till death did us part.
(SW seats himself)
JW: (Stands after a short pause)
We ask that the Giver of all good things give us vision and strength at this Memorial Service for Thy faithful servant. May we ever remain true to their trust; loyal to their precepts; and faithful to the heritage they created and bequeathed unto us. For we have learned that in giving, we receive; in pardoning, we are pardoned; and in dying, we are reborn to the Eternal Life.
(JW seats himself)
The following poem, titled THE BRIDGE BUILDER, is recited by a PM or Brother standing at the right of the WM.
An old Brother on a lone highway
Came at evening, cold and gray,
To a river fast and deep and wide
Which he must cross without chart or guide.
The old Brother crossed in the twilight dim
For the sullen stream held no fear for him.
But he paused when safe on the other side
And built a bridge to span the tide.
Old man said a fellow pilgrim near
You're wasting your time in building here.
Your journey ends at the close of day
And you never again will pass this way.
You've crossed the river deep and wide
Why build this bridge at eventide?
The Brother raised his gray old head;
Friend, in this path I've come he said.
There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This river which has been naught to me
To that fair youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I build this bridge for him.
WM: Brother Stewards, you will approach the altar. (The Stewards, without rods, approach the altar, bow, and take a position near the candles.)
WM: Brother Secretary, you will call the roll of our departed Brothers.
The Secretary reads the name of a departed Brother. He reads the name, date born, raised, and death as well as highest Masonic rank attained; pauses while Stewards snuff a candle. Each time a candle is snuffed, the Organist plays a single chime. The Secretary reads the next name with the same ceremony as before. This continues until one quarter of the names are read.
WM: (Stands and reads slowly. The Organist may softly play Pleyel's Hymn as background. If so, the Master will recite keeping time.)
On this stone now laid with prayer
Let Thy church rise, strong and fair;
Ever Lord, Thy name be known
Where we lay this cornerstone.
May Thy Spirit here give rest
To the heart of sin oppressed;
And the seeds of truth be sown
Where we lay this cornerstone.
Open wide, O God, Thy door
For the outcast and the poor
May they know this House their own
Where we lay this cornerstone.
WM seats himself. The Secretary stands and reads the second quarter of the names with the Stewards and Organist acting as before.
SW: (Stands and reads slowly. The Organist may softly play Praetorious/Avon as background. If so, the SW will recite keeping time.)
In midst of dangers, fears, and death,
Thy goodness we adore:
We praise Thee for Thy mercies past
And humbly hope for more.
Our life, while Thou preservest life,
A sacrifice shall be;
And death, when death shall be our lot
Shall join our souls to Thee.
SW seats himself. The Secretary stands and reads the third quarter of the names with the Stewards and Organist acting as before.
JW: (Stands and reads slowly. The Organist may softly play The Eternal Life as background. If so, the JW will recite keeping time.)
One sweetly solemn thought
Comes tome o'er and o'er;
Nearer my Home today am I
Than e'er I've been before.
Nearer my Father's House,
Where many Mansions be;
Nearer, today, the Great White Throne,
Nearer toe crystal sea.
JW seats himself. The Secretary stands and reads the fourth quarter of the names with the Stewards and Organist acting as before. After the last name, the Stewards return to the west of the altar and remain until the solo is completed.
Solo: The Lord's Prayer (In the absence of a soloist, it may be recited by all preset, led by the WM.)
The Stewards return to their chairs and sit.
WM: *** (Raises Lodge and uncovers) Let us pray.
Chap: In Thy Holy name, we have assembled to honor our departed Brothers. They were our Brothers, our associates, our friends, who labored with us to bring honor to our Fraternity; to practice universal Brotherhood; to comfort the afflicted, to assist the widows, orphans, and friends.
They carried heavy burdens before us which we must now carry. Grant us, O Lord, the wisdom and strength to continue as they, in practicing Charity towards all Mankind as Thou hast taught us in Thy Great Book.
We ask Thy special blessing on the widows and orphans of these departed Brothers. Grant the bereaved, peace of mind, and extended love from our Fraternity. We ask this blessing in the name of Thee, The Grand Architect of the Universe. Amen
* The WM seats the lodge. At this point, one of the following can be included: one verse of Nearer My God To Thee, or a short (5-10 minutes maximum) speech from the WM or a guest speaker. Another suggestion is to have the Organist play a stanza of Abide with Me.
WM: (Stands) The Lord bless and keep you, the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon and give you peace. Amen.
* * *
Notes: It is strongly recommended that no degree work be done on this evening so as not to unduly lengthen the communication.
It is best to READ all parts (except the Recitation on the BRIDGE BUILDER.) Read over the parts several times to become familiar with the wording and to determine where emphasis should be placed.
This ceremony may be performed with widows, orphans and friends present. Time required for ceremony: 20-30 minutes.
Permission to upload and distribute freely: Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge AF&AM Connecticut March 15, 1993 The original is item PR-16 published in March 1970.