Vol. XXIX No. 12 — December 1951

Masonic Titles

The words “worship” and “worshipful” as used in Freemasonry have no connection with their modern meaning of glorification, idolization, deification. In church the congregation worships God; in a lodge a brother is “Worshipful” when he is Master; in Grand Lodge a brother is “Most”, “Right”, or “Very Worshipful”, the words being used in the old English sense.

The word “ship” as a suffix (hardship, horsemanship, lordship) is from scip and/or skap-Old Teutonic words indicating a rank or qualities that go with it. Anglo-Saxons used weorth to describe value. Hence “Your Worship”, and also the Masonic “Worshipful”.

“Honor thy father and thy mother” in the King James Bible, was “Worship thi fadir and thi modir,” in the Wycliffe Bible (Fourteenth Century).

Masonic usage of the word may be freely given as respected, or honored. The Most Worshipful Brother is he who is most greatly honored or respected. This is doubtless as much a descendant from ecclesiastical practice as from old English phraseology; an Episcopal marriage service used “with my body I thee worship” meaning honor or reverence.

It apparently was first used Masonically at the formation of the Mother Grand Lodge; Anderson’s Constitutions has a “Postscript” titled “Here follows the Manner of constituting a New Lodge, as practis’d by his Grace the Duke of Wharton, the present Right Worfhipful Grand Master, according to the ancient Usages of Masons.”

The word was used in other than ecclesiastical circles at a very early date; Samuel Pepys’ “Diary” notes, a clergyman having addressed his congregation as “Right Worshipful and dearly beloved” in 1661. In the seventeenth century, gilds in London called themselves Worshipful, as “The Worshipful Company of Grocers”.

The use of “Most”, “Right” and “Very” in Masonic titles seems a direct descent from the

Church of England. The heads of the Church are the Primates of Canterbury and of York. Their official title is The Most Reverend. Under them in the Hierarchy come the Right Reverend the Bishops. The next title of honor in the Church is that of Very Reverend applied to Deans or heads of Cathedral Chapters. In the English Parish is The Reverend Parish Priest who is assisted by two Wardens. There is a strong resemblance between the ceremony of the induction of the priest into the benefice of a Parish and that of the installation of a Master of a lodge. In the more formal appointment of a Canon the resemblance is more marked by the ecclesiastical use of the word “installation”. The Bishop installs the new Canon with a ritual that comes with no novelty to one who has previously been installed as the Master of a Lodge. In the United States “Most Worshipful” is used in the official titles of some Grand Lodges, as well as for Grand Masters. These titles differ in the several States; many variations are interesting, as A.F. & A.M.-A.Y.M.-A.F.M.-F. & A.M. and F.A.A.M.

The titles of the forty-nine Grand Lodges of the United States copied from their Proceedings, are as follows:

The United Grand Lodge of England is “The United Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.”

Ireland has its “The Grand Masonic Lodge”.

In Scotland, the governing body is “The Grand Lodge of the Ancient and Honorable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons.”

In France are “The Grand Lodge of France”, “The National Independent and Regular Grand Lodge of France and the French Colonies”, and “The Grand Orient.”

The same titles are used by the Grand Lodges or Supreme Masonic authorities of Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Greece, and also by the Grand Lodges of the South American States.

The correct Masonic method of addressing Grand Officers in the United States is as follows:

Grand Master is Most Worshipful in 48 jurisdictions. In Pennsylvania he is Right Worshipful.

Grand Wardens are Right Worshipful in all jurisdictions.

Senior Grand Deacon is Right Worshipful in 8 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 39 jurisdictions.

Junior Grand Deacon is Right Worshipful in 8 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 38 jurisdictions.

Grand Stewards are Right Worshipful in 6 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 36 jurisdictions including Virginia, unless, in that State, the Grand junior Steward is a Past Grand Master and then he is Most Worshipful.

Grand Secretary is Right Worshipful in 46 jurisdictions and Very Worshipful in 3 jurisdictions.

Grand Treasurer is Right Worshipful in 44 jurisdictions and Very Worshipful in 3 jurisdictions. (Nebraska and Washington States have no Grand Treasurer.)

In Maine the Grand Secretary and Grand Treasurer are Right Worshipful only if permanent members of Grand Lodge. In Mississippi, North Dakota and Oklahoma the Grand Secretary, if a Past Grand Master, is Most Worshipful.

Grand Chaplains are Right Worshipful in 9 jurisdictions, Right Worshipful and Reverend in 1 jurisdiction, Right Reverend in I jurisdiction, Very Reverend in 1 jurisdiction, Reverend and Worshipful in 2 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 16 jurisdictions.

Grand Orator is Right Worshipful in 5 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 11 jurisdictions.

Grand Sword Bearer is Right Worshipful in 3 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 25 jurisdictions.

Grand Standard Bearer is Right Worshipful in 1 jurisdiction and Worshipful in 9 jurisdictions.

Grand Pursuivant is Right Worshipful in 3 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 27 jurisdictions.

Grand Bible Bearer is Worshipful in 4 jurisdictions.

Grand Lecturer is Right Worshipful in 8 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 10 jurisdictions.

Grand Organist is Worshipful in 3 jurisdictions.

Grand Tiler is Right Worshipful in 3 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 34 jurisdictions including Minnesota, where he has this title only if he is a Past Master.

Grand Marshal is Right Worshipful in 11 jurisdictions and Worshipful in 31 jurisdictions.

Officers are both “Senior Grand”, “Junior Grand” and “Grand Senior” and “Grand Junior”. Senior and Junior Grand Wardens, Deacons, Stewards are in 41 Grand Lodges; Grand Senior and junior Wardens, Deacons, Stewards are in 8 Grand Lodges. In Missouri, Wardens are Senior and Junior Grand and Deacons and Stewards Grand Senior and junior.

In all Grand Lodges, Grand Masters retain their titles when leaving office, except the Grand Master in Texas who is “Most Worshipful” as Grand Master and Right Worshipful as Past Grand Master.

In 39 Grand Lodges all elective officers retain their titles when they become “Past”. A few Grand Lodges have no law on the subject; in others titles are not retained.

In other bodies of Masonry, Officers and Grand Officers are addressed as follows: In the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern jurisdiction, the Grand Commander is addressed “Sovereign Grand Commander”, the Lieutenant Grand Commander as “Venerable Lieutenant Grand Commander”, the Grand Pryor as “Venerable Grand Pryor”. The Grand Chancellor, Grand Minister of State, Grand Secretary General, Grand Treasurer General, Grand Almoner, Grand Chaplain, Grand Orator, Grand Master of Ceremonies, Grand Chamberlain, First Grand Equerry, Second Grand Equerry, Grand Standard Bearer, Grand Sword Bearer and Grand Herald are addressed “Brother” followed by the title.

Active Members and Deputies of the Supreme Council are also addressed as “Illustrious Brother (name) . . .” followed by title. Active Members and Deputies not holding office may properly be addressed as “Illustrious Brother (name), Sovereign Grand Inspector General (or Deputy of the Supreme Council) in (State or Territory).”

The Supreme Council has not legislated concerning titles or modes of address in subordinate bodies of the Scottish Rite. These titles are taken from the ritual. The address is usually by title only-such as “Wise Master” (Chapter of Rose Croix), “Venerable Master” (Lodge of Perfection and Council of Kadosh). Custom in some valleys is to address 33’ Honorary brethren as “Illustrious Brother. . .”

The present Statutes provide specifically for the mode of address to the first three Officers of the Supreme Council. Earlier Statutes provided that all other Officers of the Supreme Council be addressed as “Brother”, followed by title. While this provision is not now mentioned in the present Statutes, it has not been superseded by new instructions and is still observed.

In the, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Northern jurisdiction the Grand Commander is addressed “Most Puissant Sovereign Grand Commander” at least officially, but in Supreme Council meetings this is customarily shortened to “Sovereign Grand Commander.” The Lieutenant Grand Commander is addressed officially as “Puissant Grand Commander”, but unofficially is addressed Grand Lieutenant Commander.”

All other officers are addressed as “Illustrious Brother (name)”. Titles other than those named above are not used unless the Grand Commander issues a directive to any of them, when he may use the full title.

The Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar is addressed “Most Eminent”. All other officers are addressed “Right Eminent.” All Past Grand Masters of the Grand Encampment are addressed as “Most Eminent.” In Grand Commanderies of the States, the Grand Commander is addressed as Right Eminent.

Addresses vary for lesser officers, but in general “Very Eminent” and “Eminent” for the higher and lesser officers prevail.

In Grand Chapters of Royal Arch Chapters, “Most Excellent Grand High Priest” and “Right Excellent Deputy Grand High Priest” is proper; in the General Grand Chapter the addresses are similar; “Most Excellent General Grand High Priest” and “Right Excellent General Deputy Grand High Priest.” As these official titles are so long, they are by common consent usually shortened to “Most Excellent” and “Right Excellent Companion (name)”.

In the Grand Councils of Royal and Select Masters the modes of address are “Most Illustrious Grand Master”, “Right Illustrious Deputy Grand Master”, with the other officers merely “Illustrious” with a few exceptions. In the General Grand Council, however, the word “puissant” is added, the titles being “Most Puissant General Grand Master”, “Right Puissant General Deputy Grand Master”. All others are “Right Illustrious” except the General Grand Sentinel who is “Puissant.”

The Imperial Council of the Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, addresses all Imperial officers as “Imperial Sir”; Temples of the Shrine address the Potentate as “Illustrious Potentate” and all other officers as “Noble” (name of office.)

The Masonic Service Association of North America