In matters of ritual, each grand lodge sets its own rules. The United Grand Lodge of England refuses to endorse any specific form of working. The Grand Lodge of Canada in the Province of Ontario, on the other hand, enforces uniformity throughout the jurisdiction. At his installation the Grand Master is obligated to "cause the ritual established to be duly observed and worked in all the constituent lodges". How does the Grand Lodge come to have an established ritual? How has it kept the wording standardized? These questions are not easy to answer, because of traditional Masonic reticence about ritual. Nevertheless the main lines of development are clear.
Evolution of the Ritual in England
During the eighteenth century, when the Craft was being transplanted to North America, the ritual was evolving rapidly. We know that about 1760 the Grand Lodge of the Ancients had a fixed working to instruct the candidate after the degree was conferred. It was a sort of catechism, "the Master asking the questions", we are told, "and the Members, properly seated, making the answers one after another". During the next forty years, the expositors, William Hutchinson, Wellins Calcott, William Preston, and John Browne, composed various charges, addresses, and orations, some of which came to be a part of the ritual.
At the Union of the Moderns and the Ancients, December 27 1813, the Lodge of Reconciliation was constituted, with representatives from both bodies, to "teach and demonstrate the ceremonies which had been officially adopted". No official text was ever published. It even has been suggested that there was no intention of prescribing for all time the precise details of every word and gesture. When the Lodge of Reconciliation ceased to meet in 1816, responsibility for promulgating the "agreed ritual" fell to the constituent lodges. Lodges of instruction came into prominence, among them the Lodge of Stability (1817), and Emulation Lodge of Improvement (1823). Of the various English workings, the "Emulation" Ritual has the widest currency. It was not published in an authorized form until 1969, although various unofficial versions had been available from 1836 onwards.
Rituals in the New World
Masons who came to the New World brought their own local variations of the work. As the ritual evolved in the old land, successive versions would find their way across the Atlantic. Faulty memories caused further divergences since verbal accuracy was not the fetish it is today. Obviously there was no single system of working.
Even so, local governing bodies strove for good order. The P.G.L. of Quebec set up a committee in 1782 to "look into and Settle the best mode of Working, &c., in order that uniformity may take place". Again, in 1792 when the two rival grand lodges in Massachusetts amalgamated, one of the articles of union read: "The mode of working practised by the late St John's Grand Lodge is hereby recommended to the lodges now established, and shall be enjoined upon all Lodges hereafter constituted".
The turning point in ritual in America was marked by Thomas Smith Webb (1771–1819). His Freemason's Monitor, or Illustrations of Masonry (1797) heralded the beginning of the system known as the "American Rite", or less correctly as the "York Rite", or even the "Ancient York Rite". It is now followed, with minor variations, over most of the United States.
First Provincial Grand Lodge
When William Jarvis was appointed P.G.M. of Upper Canada in March 1792, he was a Mason of one month's standing. Clearly he needed guidance and advice, and he sought them from Bro. Christopher Danby. Danby (who died in 1822 or soon after) had been initiated in Lodge No. 4, (A.), London, in March 1788. He emigrated to Canada late in 1792; he may have been well connected. for it was he that brought Jarvis's patent out from England. He was quick, well read, popular, ambitious, and a bit Machiavellian. As he seemed the ideal man to relieve Jarvis of some of his Masonic administrative duties, he was chosen Provincial Grand Treasurer in 1795, and Provincial Grand Senior Warden in 1797. He was probably the malign genius behind the schism of the Niagara brethren in 1803 and he became their Deputy P.G.M.
Bro. Danby, "in the character of Lecture Master, … seems on all occasions to have been referred to as an oracle". On February 5 1797 he visited Lodge No. 6, Barton, and was paid forty dollars — a substantial sum — for "instructing the members thereof in the lectures of the first three degrees of Masonry". Lodge No. 12, Stamford, paid him eight shillings York (that is, one dollar) for giving a lecture on October 19 1809. No doubt he assisted other lodges whose records are not preserved.
Evidence for Early Ritual
Early minute books offer a few tantalizing hints of the ritual. There are frequent mentions of "giving" or "rehearsing" an Entered Apprentice's Lecture (beginning with New Oswegatchie Lodge, No. 14, Elizabethtown, November 13 1787). The lecture was not part of the degree but came after initiation (New Oswegatchie, December 11 1787). It was generally given by the Master (New Oswegatchie, August 10 1790), although it could be delegated (New Oswegatchie, April 12 1791). It could be given in three sections, punctuated by pauses for refreshment (Lodge No. 6, Kingston, January 6 1803). At Lodge No. 6, Kingston, on March 5 1795, "a lecture in the 1st degree was put around", and at True Britons' Lodge, Perth, on February 9 1819, no work was done, but the "lecture went round". This sounds as if the lecture consisted of a series of questions asked in rotation of the brethren. There were sometimes rehearsals. On March 2 1809 the brethren of Lodge No. 6, Kingston, determined to meet "every Sunday evening for the purpose of lecturing".
Less frequently we have mention of the "Craft's Lecture" (New Oswegatchie, February 8 1791) and of the "Lecture … in the Third Degree" (Rawdon Lodge, No. 498, York, April 30 1798). The Master could on occasion deliver from the chair "a suitable charge" after a candidate had been passed or raised (Lodge No. 6, Kingston, January 5 and 7 1805). A candidate for Master Mason had first to repeat his Fellowcraft's Obligation (Lodge No. 6, January 7 1805).
Grand Masonic Convention
On February 10 1819, the delegates to the Grand Convention in Kingston agreed to appoint a committee "to treat with Bro. Benj McAllister, respecting the office of Visitor". (He had been Master of Lodge No. 3, Brockville, in 1817.) The committee recommended the defraying of the expenses of a Grand Visitor, whose duty it will be, to visit the several Lodges, at least twice in each year, to lecture on the different degrees of Masonry, agreeably to the constitution, and to establish one uniform mode of working, throughout the Province". It also recommended that Bro. McAllister be appointed for one year with a remuneration of 100 pounds Halifax currency.
In February 1820 Bro. McAllister reported that he had made his visitations, commencing on the upper Rideau River and proceeding along the St Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, as far west as Grimsby On the way back he had visited nearly all the lodges a second time Although the Grand Convention expressed its satisfaction, it decided not to appoint a Visitor for 1820. It named five District Visitors in 1821 to give instruction in the work: for the Johnstown district, William Campbell (Lodge No. 3, Brockville); for the Midland District, Christian Fry (W.M., Addington Lodge, No. 13, Bath, 1820); for the Newcastle District, Elisha Rugg (W.M., North Star Lodge, U.D., Township of Hamilton, 1819); for the Home District, Josiah Cushman (Lodge No. 16 York); and for the Gore, London, and Niagara Districts, Abner Everitt (W.M., Union Lodge, No. 24, Ancaster, 1810). They were to be paid by the day, as well as being allowed reasonable expenses.
Second Provincial Grand Lodge
Simon McGillivray, the new P.G.M., received his patent on April 15 1822. He was a skilled Mason, who had attended the Lodge of Reconciliation in 1815. He was quick to assess the situation, and reported to London as follows:
Several of the lodges … made many Masons, without giving them, or perhaps being incompetent to give them much instruction, and many of the emigrants, who were annually added to the population of the province, were already Freemasons. Some of these emigrants joined the lodges which they found established in the province, and being more practised in Masonry than those whom they thus joined became instructors, or in other words introduced innovations, which were received more readily in consequence of … the want of any ruling power … which could be referred to as an authority.
The P.G.L. met on July 8 1823, and resolved "That the R.W. the P.G.M., or his Deputy, be requested to appoint Grand Visitors in such sections or divisions of the province as may seem to them expedient".
The P.G.M. was absent, and no action was taken. At the Communication of September 14 1825 the subject was again raised. McGillivray was once more absent, and the "question of a Grand Visitor … was left to the discretion of the R.W.P.G.M."
When he learned of these proceedings, the P.G.M., with his usual discernment, commented as follows:
I consider it extremely desirable to establish among our lodges … a system of regularity and uniformity …, and therefore, as a temporary measure, I approve of the appointment … of a Grand Visitor — though I think instructor a more appropriate designation … . The functions of such officer must be limited strictly to the communication of Masonic instruction to such lodges as may require the same…. In granting, however, my approbation of this temporary measure, l request it may always be remembered that the genuine source of Masonic instruction is … the Master, and therefore I earnestly recommend to the brethren generally, to elect as Masters such brethren as are capable of bestowing instruction, and to the Masters and rulers of the Craft I recommend assiduity in obtaining, and zeal in communicating, Masonic knowledge. l have heard that it was suggested by some brethren to invest this proposed Grand Visitor with extraordinary, and even anomalous functions, such as would in fact constitute him a censor in the lodge… and therefore, lest any such project should hereafter be revived, I beg to declare that the grant of such functions would be illegal and unconstitutional. The functions of censor belong to the Prov'l G.M. and his officers … .
Accomplished ritualists were still scarce. One was John Beikie (about 1766 — 1839). He was initiated in Lodge No. 9, Cornwall, in 1799, but showed little interest until he joined St Andrew's, No. 1, in 1822. He was named Deputy P.G.M. in 1825. The minutes amply testify to his talents. On May 5 1824 "at the desire of the W.M., he gave the entered apprentice's initiation and charge". On September 7 1824 "Bro. Beikie recited the fourteen questions to qualify for the second degree and the charge of the first". On other occasions we are told of his delivery of "the tools of an entered apprentice", "the lecture in the first degree", "the obligation of a F.C.M.", "the tools of a Fellow Craft", "the ceremony of initiation into the 3rd degree", and "the working tools of a Master Mason". Evidently an outstanding Craftsman!
The Introduction of "Emulation" Work
The P.G.L. of Montreal and William Henry had instructed its Board of General Purposes in 1824 "to enquire into and report the most speedy and effectual mode of rendering uniform the work of the several lodges". Accordingly a committee had been appointed "to ascertain the mode of work used by the U[nited] G[rand] L[odge] of E[ngland]". The next year, the P.G.L. announced that its members "feel it their duty to enforce uniformity of work in all the Lodges within its jurisdiction". To that end, it constituted a General Lodge of Instruction, with three Lecturers, J.S. McCord, Jacob Bigelow, and William Badgley.
The work which was taught in Lower Canada in 1825 must have been that brought back from England by the committee of 1824. Presumably it derived ultimately from the Lodge of Reconciliation, no doubt through one of the lodges of instruction. (In this connection, the Masonic scholar R.J. Meekren set the introduction of the "Emulation working" into Canada in 1825.) Probably the same ritual was introduced into Upper Canada at this time, as the P.G.M. there was the brother and mentor of the P.G.M. of Montreal and William Henry.
Third Provincial Grand Lodge
In ritual, as in much else, the minutes of the Third P.G.L. present a depressing chronicle of good intentions and missed opportunities. June 30 1846; Resolved "that the R.W. Deputy Provincial Grand Master be authorized to appoint a Lecturer for the purpose of visiting and instructing the different lodges in this jurisdiction in a uniform method of working". No lecturer was appointed. June 16 1848; Resolved that the P.G.M. "select some well-skilled Master or Past Master… who shall have power and authority as a district lecturer, … such appointment to remain valid until a Grand Lecturer be appointed". No district lecturers were appointed. June 15 1849; "Resolved — that a committee of five be appointed for the purpose of establishing a uniform mode of working, … to report … November next". No report was presented.
At last, in June 1851, something was accomplished. The P.G.M. for Montreal and William Henry, R.W. Bro. William Badgley (1801–1888) — the man who had lectured on the English work in 1825 — attended the semi-annual communication in Toronto. He "was pleased to work through the three first degrees of Masonry, for the information of the Grand Lodge; the same being the work as practised in Lower Canada, and sanctioned by the Grand Lodge of England, also being the same as practised by the Ionic Lodge, No. 18, Toronto". (There is no need to assume that Ionic stood alone, the Provincial Grand Secretary may simply have wished to testify to the regularity of the work in his own lodge.)
After Badgley's visit the P.G.L. resorted once more to ineffectual resolutions. October 25 1854: Resolved "that this P. Grand Lodge do select … a Grand Lecturer, to visit the different subordinate lodges …, and to enforce a uniform system of working … ." May 11 1855: Resolved "that the R.W. the Grand Master of this Province be requested to appoint a Committee, … to establish and determine the correct and proper mode of working …, and recommend … a wellinformed Brother as Grand Lecturer…." And even after the formation of the Ancient Grand Lodge of Canada, September 11 1857, it was resolved "That a Special Committee of Masters and Past Masters be appointed, to adopt the ritual, for the work of this Grand Lodge, to insure uniformity of work, within its jurisdiction".
Grand Lodge of Canada and the Ritual
One of the first problems confronting the Grand Lodge of Canada was to decide whether or not to let each lodge keep its own mode of working. In 1856 the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. William Mercer Wilson, recommended that Grand Lodge should decide "which system of work now in use shall be permanently adopted". He further recommended that the approved work should be promulgated "by Lodges of instruction, or by appointed Lecturers, or by any other means you may approve". Grand Lodge approved the appointment of a committee. Before it could report however, the Union of the two grand lodges supervened. Accordingly in 1858 the Grand Master was requested "to add some of the distinguished brethren who have recently united with the Grand Lodge, in order that the Committee may have the benefit of their assistance and advice…."
At the Communication in July 1859 the committee, through the Grand Master, recommended the adoption of "the English mode of work". On the morning of the second day R.W. Bro. Samuel B. Harman, a member of the Committee, exemplified the working of the three degrees of symbolic Masonry. He then moved "that the work, as exemplified by the Committee, being the English ritual with slight modifications, be now adopted as the established work … ." The motion was carried. Apparently the recommended working was based on a published ritual of which the title page runs: "Outlines / Adapted both to State and Territorial Associations / Arranged by / The Committee of the Central Convention. / Clairville: Printed at the 'Sentinel' Office. /1839." (Neither the location nor the printer has been identified; possibly the imprint is fictitious, and intended to deceive.) Several copies survive; one, which belonged to M.W. Bro. George Otis Tyler, P.G.M. (Hon.) of the Grand Lodge of Quebec, is endorsed on the flyleaf "G. Lodge of Canada Ritual".
In 1867 Grand Lodge approved the Grand Master's recommendation that there be a standing Committee on "Work", to which all communications on the subject should be addressed; the members of the committee were R.W. Bros. Thomas Bird Harris (Grand Secretary), Richard Bull, William McCabe, and V.W. Bro. Otto Klotz. The next year the membership was changed to the Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master, and the Grand Secretary.
In 1884 M.W. Bro. Daniel Spry, Grand Master, requested a permanent committee for consultation on all matters relating to the ritual, to ensure that decisions were always consistent. His successor, M.W. Bro. Hugh Murray, appointed M.W. Bros. Daniel Spry, J. Moffat, J.A. Henderson, J.K. Kerr, and James Seymour, and R.W. Bros. Henry Robertson, Otto Klotz, and Richard Bull. M.W. Bro. Murray reported in 1885 that he had accepted recommendations for a number of alterations in the Work, to secure greater uniformity of language and to correct a few minor inaccuracies.
In 1887 M.W. Bro. Henry Robertson, Grand Master, changed the personnel of the Ritual Committee to include only the Past Grand Masters and the Deputy Grand Master. Since that date responsibility for the ritual has resided in this body, sometimes known as the "Grand East". Grand Lodge in 1939 approved the recommendation of M.W. Bro. W.J. Dunlop, Grand Master, that a Past Grand Master be delegated by the "Grand East" to act on their behalf as Custodian of the Work. His duties would be to answer questions relating to the ritual, to read the printer's proof of the ritual whenever it had to be reprinted, to submit any proposed changes to the "Grand East" for approval, and to instruct the District Deputy Grand Masters during each annual communication. The successive Custodians of the Work have been M.W. Bros. William J. Dunlop (1939–1959), Harry L. Martyn (1959–1973), and William K. Bailey (since 1973).
Several changes have been made in the work since 1885, but only two were significant. In the early 1930's the "long form" of the Working Tools of the Fellowcraft Degree was adopted from the Installation Ceremony. The Ritual Committee, taking its lead from the Grand Lodge of England, in 1967 changed the wording of the penal clauses of the three Obligations.
The "Irish" Ritual
All lodges under the Grand Lodge of Canada are required to work the Canadian Ritual, except for two in London (St John's, No. 20, and St. John's, No. 209a), which use what is called the "Irish" working. It is not used by the Grand Lodge of Ireland, but seems to be a variant of the "American Rite".
When St John's, No. 209, I.C., joined the Grand Lodge of Canada in 1855, it received a special concession, in these terms:
To Whom it may concern:
This is to certify that, the St John's Lodge, No._, having become affiliated to this Grand Lodge, authority is hereby given to the W.M., Wardens and Brethren of the said Lodge to continue their work as heretofore, until the further pleasure of this M.W. Grand Lodge be made known.
Given at Hamilton, C.W., under the seal of our Grand Lodge this 19th day of January, 5856.
Attest Thos. B. Harris Gr. Sec.
By Command A Barnard D.G.M
(The lodge's number is omitted because the founding lodges were not given new numbers until July 11 1856.)
In May 1859 some brethren, having obtained possession of the old Irish warrant, resuscitated the lodge. Despite protests from the Grand Lodge of Canada, the Grand Lodge of Ireland sustained them. The revived St John's Lodge, No. 209, I.C., affiliated with the Grand Lodge of Canada in 1872, under the number 209a. The brethren who had negotiated with the Grand Secretary had refused the terms granted in 1856 and insisted that the words "until the further pleasure of this M.W. Grand Lodge be made known" be stricken. The Grand Secretary drew a line through them and initialed the document in the margin.
The use of a different ritual drew only mild comment over the next few years. In December 1885 however the Grand Master made an unguarded remark to a banquet audience of St John's Lodge, No. 209a which occasioned considerable debate and controversy that spilled over into the public press. The matter was laid to rest in 1888 by M.W. Bro. Henry Robertson, Grand Master, who ruled that both No. 20 and No 209a had authority from Grand Lodge to continue their Old Work. He did say however that Grand Lodge could at any time cancel either or both of these permits, and require conformity with the established ritual. Grand Lodge adopted his report and actually decided that conformity should be required "after a reasonable time."
Promulgation of the Ritual by Grand Lodge
When Grand Lodge in 1859 adopted "the English Ritual with slight modifications" it further resolved "that it be an instruction to the District Deputy Grand Masters to see the said work introduced into the lodges under their respective charge, as speedily as circumstances will allow". Since then there have been occasional requests for Grand Lecturers to teach the ritual, but Grand Lodge has steadfastly affirmed that responsibility for "perfection in ritual" remains with the District Deputy Grand Masters and the Worshipful Masters. It has chosen to encourage District and Grand Lodge Lodges of Instruction, rather than fostering itinerant instructors outside this framework.
For the first thirty years, all instruction in the ritual was oral. From time to time the three degrees were exemplified at the Communication of Grand Lodge. This was done in 1859, in 1868, and for several years beginning in 1885. In 1887 the Grand Master reported as follows: From the reports which reached me from all the District Deputy Grand Masters and other brethren, as to the condition of the lodges with regard to the accuracy of the work, I deemed it necessary to summon a special meeting of that committee [that is, the Committee on the Ritual]. This meeting was held at Hamilton on the 22nd and 23rd days of March last. The action then taken has been communicated to the lodges, and I trust that the measures which have been adopted will secure a greater degree of uniformity … ." This new measure, which was referred to in such guarded terms, was the printing and distribution of copies of the work to the three principal officers of each lodge.
Within a single year a great improvement was noted. Later (probably 1904, if one may judge from certain cryptic entries in the accounts of Grand Lodge), all officers were allowed to possess a copy of the Work, under conditions of absolute secrecy. More recently Masters have been encouraged to let Master Masons participate in the ritual. Master Masons were first permitted in 1974 to purchase copies, after passing a satisfactory examination in open lodge.
Promulgation of the Ritual by D.D.G.M.'s
Each District Deputy Grand Master takes an Obligation in which he undertakes "that I will cause the ritual established by this M.W. G.L. to be duly observed and worked in the several lodges under my jurisdiction". He is also charged "to visit each Lodge, at least once during your term of office, to inspect the work".
In the early years of Grand Lodge there were practical difficulties. Sometimes the D.D.G.M.'s had not themselves been adequately instructed in the Work, or had too many lodges assigned to their District or could not find brethren familiar with the Work to assist them in holding lodges of instruction. Certain remote and inaccessible lodges were sometimes not visited for four or five years at a stretch.
Even so, many D.D.G.M.'s put forth extraordinary efforts. In 1859–60 the D.D.G.M. of Toronto District held the first recorded Lodge of Instruction in the Grand Lodge of Canada, for the Masters and Wardens of nine city and two country lodges. He was surprised to find that by the next morning only those who had some previous acquaintance with the Work had benefited. The D.D.G.M. of Ontario District during the three years 1867–70 organized a successful series of Lodges of Instruction. Some of them lasted for four days with three sessions a day, drawing attendances of up to a hundred. The D.D.G.M. of London District in 1870–72 spent up to ten evenings in each of his two years instructing lodge officers, with the help of Past Grand Lodge officers. The D.D.G.M. of Toronto District in 1886–87 visited each of his thirtyfive lodges twice, six of them three times, four of them four times, and one a fifth. Between October and January he convened seven lodges of instruction.
Evidently the success of the D.D.G.M.'s in maintaining uniformity depended on their own skill. In 1895 Grand Lodge endorsed the recommendation of the Committee on the Condition of Masonry that the Grand Master appoint a committee to instruct the District Deputy Grand Masters right after their installation, to ensure greater uniformity in the work. This was later amended by a motion requesting the Grand Master to appoint a Past Grand Master to give the instruction. The successive preceptors have been as follows:
- M.W. Bro. Hugh Murray, 1895–1907
- M.W. Bro. S.H. Burritt, 1908
- M.W. Bro. E.T. Malone, 1909, 1911–1913, 1915–1921, 1923–1932
- M.W. Bro. D.F. Macwatt, Grand Master, 1910
- (No individual teacher; instead, Provincial Lodge of Instruction, 1914)
- M.W. Bro. F.W. Harcourt, 1922
- M.W. Bro. W.H. Wardrope, 1933
- M.W. Bro. R.B. Dargavel, 1934–1938
- The Custodian of the Work, since 1939
The Instructional sessions took place originally at the Grand Lodge Communication. In more recent years M.W. Bros. Martyn and Bailey have curtailed these sessions and added supplementary discussion with small groups a month later.
Inevitably progress was made. All except five of the 351 lodges were visited by the D.D.G.M.'s in 1895–96. In 1910–11 20 of the 22 Districts held at least one lodge of instruction. From 1929 on there was a decreased emphasis on lodges of instruction. The ritual was by now well established throughout the province. The appointment of a Custodian of the Work in 1939 revived active interest in the Work.
Promulgation of the Ritual by W.M.'s
The key person in maintaining uniformity in the Work is the Master of the lodge. He is responsible for employing and instructing his brethren in Masonry, for which the main vehicle will always be the ritual. Little wonder that Grand Lodge has from time to time expressed its concern for the proficiency of W.M.'s! M.W. Bro. William Mercer Wilson reported in 1859 that he had declined to grant a dispensation for a new lodge, unless proof was adduced to his satisfaction that the proposed Master could open and close lodge in the three degrees and confer the degrees in due and ancient form. In 1866 M.W. Bro. W.B. Simpson, Grand Master, suggested that Grand Lodge should "compel every Worshipful Master to pass an examination as to his qualifications to fill the chair before he is installed into that high and responsible office".
Obviously it was not easy in those early years for Masters to become proficient. The Toronto D.D.G.M. suggested in 1860 that much good might be accomplished if D.D.G.M.'s could be "authorized at their discretion, to allow certain portions of the ritual to be transcribed (in cypher or otherwise) by the W. Masters, under a solemn pledge of secrecy and a distinct promise to hand the same only to their successors, duly installed". In the same year the London D.D.G.M. suggested that greater uniformity of Work could be achieved if certain addresses, charges, prayers, lectures, and explanations could be printed, as they were for example in the Irish constitution. Some form of written ritual must have been in limited use before 1887, whether it was the old printed "Clairville" ritual of 1839, or an unauthorized text, or even a handwritten copy. This may be seen in the recommendation which was made in 1885 by the D.D.G.M. of St Lawrence District, that a few lodges which were without a ritual be granted one on application.
The printing of the Work in 1887 had a beneficial effect. In 1891 M.W. Bro. John Ross Robertson noted that, of 348 lodges, "260 of the W.M.'s can exemplify the E.A., F.C., and M.M.; 48 can exemplify the E.A. and F.C.; 29 can work the E.A.; 9 are only able to open and close, and 3 are unable to work". The Chairman on the Condition of Masonry in 1895 threatened to publish the names of the delinquents in the Proceedings of Grand Lodge. Progress is reflected in these two reports: "Of the 361 Masters … 331 can work all the degrees" (1899), and "with a couple of exceptions all of them are capable of conferring the degrees" (1912). Until about the 1920s the Master in most lodges normally conferred the entire degree. The Master's task in promulgating ritual proficiency has been much easier since officers, and latterly Master Masons, have been entitled to their own copy of the work.
The Musical Ritual
A special committee "to consider the question of the adoption by Grand Lodge of a Musical Ritual for use in constituent lodges" was named in 1915 by the Grand Master. The committee consisted of M.W. Bro. W.D. McPherson as chairman, V.W. Bro. John B. Hutchins (of Zetland, No. 326), Grand Organist for 1914, and W. Bro. George H. Mitchell (of Rehoboam, No. 65), Grand Organist for 1915. Early in 1918 they published Masonic Musical Ritual for the Ceremonials of Craft Degrees. It offered four full sets of musical selections which might be introduced at certain appropriate pauses in the work. Both hymns (in unison and fourpart arrangements) and chants (unison and fourpart) were included.
The music was mostly taken from Protestant hymnbooks of the time. Two selections were composed by Bro. James Edmund Jones (of York, No. 156), and one was contributed by Bro. Albert Ham (of Ionic, No. 25), who also arranged several others. V.W. Bro. George H. Mitchell arranged many of the chants. The words for the chants were taken from scripture, while most of the words for the hymns were adapted to Masonic purposes by Bro. Thomas H. Litster (of Zetland, No. 326).
The chants never became very popular. The hymns however were regularly printed on lodge ode cards and are still familiar to many brethren.