Masonic Poetry

•   A Poem of Moral Duties (a/k/a The Regius Poem, a/k/a the Halliwell Manuscript) (the oldest Masonic poem)

•   Which Are You?
•   The Lambskin Apron
•   The Mother Lodge
•   My Initiation
•   L’Envoi
•   The Palace
•   The Men Who Wear Those Masonic Rings
•   The Master Mason
•   Ten Master Masons
•   Last Night I Knelt Where Hiram Knelt
•   The Story of My Degree
•   What Came You Here to Do?
•   The Badge of a Mason
•   The Road of Masonry
•   I am a Mark Master
•   I See You’ve Travelled Some
•   In a Friendly Sort O’ Way
•   Freemasonry to Me
•   Banquet Night
•   By the Work You Did Today
•   Criticism
•   If
•   Old Friends
•   A Vanished Friend
•   Labour to Eternal Rest
•   A Father’s Love
•   A Mason’s Wife
•   I am the Bible
•   32nd Degree Freemasonry
•   33 Degree Burns
•   23rd Psalm ... Explained
•   ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Down at the Lodge
•   My Masonic Dues Card (prose)

•   History of St. Bernard
•   Song of the Gramps
•   St. Bernard’s Farewell
•   The Return of St. Bernard

•   Mr. Shrine
•   A Supplication for Crippled Children
•   Shrine of Miracles
•   If
•   Banana Cart
•   Normal
•   Tiny Tires
•   At The Shrine
•   The Badge
•   Noble’s Pride
•   The Shriner
•   The Recorder’s Dream
•   Oh, Luck to the Duck
•   Past Potentate
•   I’m in Love With a Mystic Shriner
•   A Shriner’s Wife

to see more Masonic poetry, please visit the Masonic Poets Society

A Poem of Moral Duties (a/k/a The Regius Poem, a/k/a the Halliwell Manuscript) (the oldest known Masonic poem)

author unknown, estimated to have been written between 1390 and 1445, C.E. See this article in Pietre-Stones Review of Freemasonry

Hic incipiunt constituciones artis gemetriae secundum Eucyldem.

wel rede and loke,
He may fynde wryte yn olde boke
Of grete lordys and eke ladyysse,
That hade mony chyldryn y-fere, y-wisse;
And hade no rentys to fynde hem wyth,
Nowther yn towne, ny felde, ny fryth:
A cownsel togeder they cowthe hem take;
To ordeyne for these chyldryn sake,
How they my[g]th best lede here lyfe
Withoute gret desese, care and stryfe;
And most for the multytude that was comynge
Of here chyldryn after here [g]yndynge.
(They) sende thenne after grete clerkys,
To techyn hem thenne gode werkys;

And pray we hem, for our Lordys sake,
To oure chyldryn sum werke to make,
That they my[g]th gete here lyvynge therby,
Bothe wel and onestlyche, ful sycurly.
Yn that tyme, thro[g]gh good gemetry,
Thys onest craft of good masonry
Wes ordeynt and made yn thys manere,
Y-cownterfetyd of thys clerkys y-fere;
At these lordys prayers they cownterfetyd gemetry,
And [g]af hyt the name of masonry,
For the moste oneste craft of alle.
These lordys chyldryn therto dede falle,
To lurne of hym the craft of gemetry,
The wheche he made ful curysly;

Thro[g]gh fadrys prayers and modrys also,
Thys onest craft he putte hem to.
He that lerned best, and were of onesté,
And passud hys felows yn curysté;
[G]ef yn that craft he dede hym passe,
He schulde have more worschepe then the lasse.
Thys grete clerkys name was clept Euclyde,
Hys name hyt spradde ful wondur wyde.
Get thys grete clerke more ordeynt he
To hym that was herre yn thys degré,
That he schulde teche the synplyst of (wytte)
Yn that onest craft to be parfytte;
And so uchon schulle techyn othur,
And love togeder as syster and brothur.

Forthermore [g]et that ordeynt he,
Mayster y-called so schulde he be;
So that he were most y-worschepede,
Thenne sculde he be so y-clepede:
But mason schulde never won other calle,
Withynne the craft amongus hem alle,
Ny soget, ny servand, my dere brother,
Tha[g]ht he be not so perfyt as ys another;
Uchon sculle calle other felows by cuthe,
For cause they come of ladyes burthe.
On thys maner, thro[g] good wytte of gemetry,
Bygan furst the craft of masonry:
The clerk Euclyde on thys wyse hyt fonde,
Thys craft of gemetry yn Egypte londe.

Yn Egypte he taw[g]hte hyt ful wyde,
Yn dyvers londe on every syde;
Mony erys afterwarde, y understonde,
[G]er that the craft com ynto thys londe,
Thys craft com ynto Englond, as y [g]ow say,
Yn tyme of good kynge Adelstonus day;
He made tho bothe halle and eke bowre,
And hye templus of gret honowre,
To sportyn hym yn bothe day and ny[g]th,
An to worschepe hys God with alle hys my[g]th.
Thys goode lorde loved thys craft ful wel,
And purposud to strenthyn hyt every del,
For dyvers defawtys that yn the craft he fonde;
He sende about ynto the londe

After alle the masonus of the crafte,
To come to hym ful evene stra[g]fte,
For to amende these defautys alle
By good consel, [g]ef hyt myt[g]th falle.
A semblé thenne he cowthe let make
Of dyvers lordis, yn here state,
Dukys, erlys, and barnes also,
Kyn[g]thys, sqwyers, and mony mo,
And the grete burges of that syté,
They were ther alle yn here degré;
These were ther uchon algate,
To ordeyne for these masonus astate.
Ther they sow[g]ton by here wytte,
How they my[g]thyn governe hytte:

Fyftene artyculus they ther sow[g]ton
And fyftene poyntys they wro[g]ton.

Hic incipit articulus primus.

The furste artycul of thys gemetry:--
The mayster mason moste be ful securly
Bothe stedefast, trusty, and trwe,
Hyt schal hum never thenne arewe:
And pay thy felows after the coste,
As vytaylys goth thenne, wel thou woste;
And pay them trwly, apon thy fay,
What that they deserven may;
And to her hure take no more,
But what they mowe serve fore;
And spare, nowther for love ny drede,

Of nowther partys to take no mede;
Of lord ny felow, whether he be,
Of hem thou take no maner of fe;
And as a jugge stonde upry[g]th,
And thenne thou dost to bothe good ry[g]th;
And trwly do thys whersever thou gost,
Thy worschep, thy profyt, hyt shcal be most.

Articulus secundus.

The secunde artycul of good masonry,
As [g]e mowe hyt here hyr specyaly,
That every mayster, that ys a mason,
Most ben at the generale congregacyon,
So that he hyt resonably y-tolde
Where that the semblé schal be holde;

And to that semblé he most nede gon,
But he have a resenabul skwsacyon,
Or but he be unbuxom to that craft,
Or with falssehed ys over-raft,
Or ellus sekenes hath hym so stronge,
That he may not com hem amonge;
That ys a skwsacyon, good and abulle,
To that semblé withoute fabulle.

Articulus tercius.

The thrydde artycul for sothe hyt ysse,
That the mayster take to no prentysse,
but he have good seuerans to dwelle
Seven [g]er with hym, as y [g]ow telle,
Hys craft to lurne, that ys profytable;

Withynne lasse he may not be able
To lordys profyt, ny to his owne,
As [g]e mowe knowe by good resowne.

Articulus quartus.

The fowrhe artycul thys moste be
That the mayster hym wel be-se,
That he no bondemon prentys make,
Ny for no covetyse do hym take;
For the lord that he ys bonde to,
May fache the prentes whersever he go.
Gef yn the logge he were y-take,
Muche desese hyt mygth ther make,
And suche case hyt mygth befalle,
That hyt mygth greve summe or alle.

For alle the masonus tht ben there
Wol stonde togedur hol y-fere
Gef suche won yn that craft schulde swelle,
Of dyvers desesys ge mygth telle:
For more gese thenne, and of honeste,
Take a prentes of herre degre.
By olde tyme wryten y fynde
That the prenes schulde be of gentyl kynde;
And so symtyme grete lordys blod
Toke thys gemetry, that ys ful good.

Articulus quintus.

The fyfthe artycul ys swythe good,
So that the prentes be of lawful blod;
The mayster schal not, for no vantage,

Make no prentes that ys outrage;
Hyt ys to mene, as [g]e mowe here,
That he have hys lymes hole alle y-fere;
To the craft hyt were gret schame,
To make an halt mon and a lame,
For an unperfyt mon of suche blod
Schulde do the craft but lytul good.
Thus [g]e mowe knowe everychon,
The craft wolde have a my[g]hty mon;
A maymed mon he hath no my[g]ht,
[G]e mowe hyt knowe long [g]er ny[g]ht

Articulus sextus.

The syxte artycul [g]e mowe not mysse,
That the mayster do the lord no pregedysse,
To take of the lord, for hyse prentyse,
Also muche as hys felows don, yn alle vyse.
For yn that craft they ben ful perfyt,
So ys not he, [g]e mowe sen hyt.
Also hyt were a[g]eynus good reson,
To take hys, hure as hys felows don.
Thys same artycul, yn thys casse,
Juggythe the prentes to take lasse
Thenne hys felows, that ben ful perfyt.
Yn dyvers maters, conne qwyte hyt,
The mayster may his prentes so enforme,
That hys hure may crese ful [g]urne,

And, ger hys terme come to an ende,
Hys hure may ful wel amende.

Articulus septimus.

The seventhe artycul that ys now here,
Ful wel wol telle gow, alle y-fere,
That no mayster, for favour ny drede,
Schal no thef nowther clothe ny fede.
Theves he schal herberon never won,
Ny hym that hath y-quellude a mon,
Wy thylike that hath a febul name,
Lest hyt wolde turne the craft to schame.

Articulus octavus.

The eghte artycul schewt [g]ow so,

That the mayster may hyt wel do,
[G]ef that he have any mon of crafte,
And be not also perfyt as he au[g]te,
He may hym change sone anon,
And take for hym a perfytur mon.
Suche a mon, thro[g]e rechelaschepe,
My[g]th do the craft schert worschepe.

Articulus nonus.

The nynthe artycul schewet ful welle,
That the mayster be both wyse and felle;
That no werke he undurtake,
But he conne bothe hyt ende and make;
And that hyt be to the lordes profyt also,

And to hys craft, whersever he go;
And that the grond be wel y-take,
That hyt nowther fle ny grake.

Articulus decimus.

The thenthe artycul ys for to knowe,
Amonge the craft, to hye and lowe,
There schal no mayster supplante other,
But be togeder as systur and brother,
Yn thys curyus craft, alle and som,
That longuth to a maystur mason.
Ny he schal not supplante non other mon,
That hath y-take a werke hym uppon,
Yn peyne therof that ys so stronge,

That peyseth no lasse thenne ten ponge,
But [g]ef that he be gulty y-fonde,
That toke furst the werke on honde;
For no mon yn masonry
Schal no supplante othur securly,
But [g]ef that hyt be so y-wro[g]th,
That hyt turne the werke to nogth;
Thenne may a mason that werk crave,
To the lordes profyt hyt for to save;
Yn suche a case but hyt do falle,
Ther schal no mason medul withalle.
Forsothe he that begynnyth the gronde,
And he be a mason goode and sonde,
For hath hyt sycurly yn hys mynde

To brynge the werke to ful good ende.

Articulus undecimus.

The eleventhe artycul y telle the,
That he ys bothe fayr and fre;
For he techyt, by hys my[g]th,
That no mason schulde worche be ny[g]th,
But [g]ef hyt be yn practesynge of wytte,
[G]ef that y cowthe amende hytte.

Articulus duodecimus.

The twelfthe artycul ys of hye honesté
To [g]every mason, whersever he be;
He schal not hys felows werk deprave,
[G]ef that he wol hys honesté save;
With honest wordes he hyt comende,

By the wytte that God the dede sende;
Buy hyt amende by al that thou may,
Bytwynne [g]ow bothe withoute nay.

Articulus xiijus.

The threttene artycul, so God me save,
Ys,[g]ef that the mayster a prentes have,
Enterlyche thenne that he hym teche,
And meserable poyntes that he hym reche,
That he the craft abelyche may conne,
Whersever he go undur the sonne.

Articulus xiiijus.

The fowrtene artycul, by good reson,
Scheweth the mayster how he schal don;
He schal no prentes to hym take,

Byt dyvers crys he have to make,
That he may, withynne hys terme,
Of hym dyvers poyntes may lurne.

Articulus quindecimus.

The fyftene artycul maketh an ende,
For to the mayster he ys a frende;
To lere hym so, that for no mon,
No fals mantenans he take hym apon,
Ny maynteine hys felows yn here synne,
For no good that he my[g]th wynne;
Ny no fals sware sofre hem to make,
For drede of here sowles sake;
Lest hyt wolde turne the craft to schame,
And hymself to mechul blame.

Plures Constituciones.

At thys semblé were poyntes y-ordeynt mo,
Of grete lordys and maystrys also,
That whose wol conne thys craft and com to astate,
He most love wel God, and holy churche algate,
And hys mayster also, that he ys wythe,
Whersever he go, yn fylde or frythe;
And thy felows thou love also,
For that they craft wol that thou do.

Secundus punctus.

The secunde poynt, as y [g]ow say,

That the mason worche apon the werk day,
Also trwly, as he con or may,

To deserve hys huyre for the halyday,
And trwly to labrun on hys dede,
Wel deserve to have hys mede.

Tercius punctus.

The thrydde poynt most be severele,
With the prentes knowe hyt wele,
Hys mayster conwsel he kepe and close,
And hys felows by hys goode purpose;
The prevetyse of the chamber telle he no man,
Ny yn the logge whatsever they done;
Whatsever thou heryst, or syste hem do,
Telle hyt no mon, whersever thou go;
The conwsel of halls, and [g]eke of bowre,

Kepe hyt wel to gret honowre,
Lest hyt wolde torne thyself to blame,
And brynge the craft ynto gret schame.

Quartus punctus.

The fowrthe poynt techyth us alse,
That no mon to hys craft be false;
Errour he schal maynteine none
A[g]eynus the craft, but let hyt gone;
Ny no pregedysse he schal not do
To hys mayster, ny hys felows also;
And that[g]th the prentes be under awe,
[G]et he wolde have the same lawe.

Quintus punctus.

The fyfthe poynte ys, withoute nay,
That whenne the mason taketh hys pay
Of the mayster, y-ordent to hym,
Ful mekely y-take so most hyt byn;
[G]et most the mayster, by good resone,
Warne hem lawfully byfore none,
[G]ef he nulle okepye hem no more,
As he hath y-done ther byfore;
A[g]eynus thys ordyr he may not stryve,
[G]ef he thenke wel for to thryve.

Sextus punctus.

The syxte poynt ys ful [g]ef to knowe,
Bothe to hye and eke to lowe,

For suche case hyt my[g]th befalle,
Amonge the masonus, summe or alle,
Throwghe envye, or dedly hate,
Ofte aryseth ful gret debate.
Thenne owyth the mason, [g]ef that he may,
Putte hem bothe under a day;
But loveday [g]et schul they make none;
Tyl that the werke day be clene a-gone;
Apon the holyday [g]e mowe wel take
Leyser y-now[g]gth loveday to make,
Lest that hyt wolde the werke day
Latte here werke for suche afray;
To suche ende thenne that hem drawe,

That they stonde wel yn Goddes lawe.

Septimus punctus.

The seventhe poynt he may wel mene,
Of wel longe lyf that God us lene,
As hyt dyscryeth wel opunly,
Thou schal not by thy maysters wyf ly,
Ny by the felows, yn no maner wyse,
Lest the craft wolde the despyse;
Ny by the felows concubyne,
No more thou woldest he dede by thyne.
The peyne thereof let hyt be ser,
That he prentes ful seven [g]er,
[G]ef he forfete yn eny of hem,

So y-chasted thenne most he ben;
Ful mekele care my[g]th ther begynne,
For suche a fowle dedely synne.

Octavus punctus.

The eghte poynt, he may be sure,
[G]ef thou hast y-taken any cure,
Under thy mayster thou be trwe,
For that pynt thou schalt never arewe;
A trwe medyater thou most nede be
To thy mayster, and thy felows fre;
Do trwly al....that thou my[g]th,
To both partyes, and that ys good ry[g]th.

Nonus punctus.

The nynthe poynt we schul hym calle,
That he be stwarde of oure halle,
Gef that ge ben yn chambur y-fere,
Uchon serve other, with mylde chere;
Jentul felows, ge moste hyt knowe,
For to be stwardus alle o rowe,
Weke after weke withoute dowte,
Stwardus to ben so alle abowte,
Lovelyche to serven uchon othur,
As thawgh they were syster and brother;
Ther schal never won on other costage
Fre hymself to no vantage,
But every mon schal be lyche fre

Yn that costage, so moste hyt be;
Loke that thou pay wele every mon algate,
That thou hsat y-bow[g]ht any vytayles ate,
That no cravynge be y-mad to the,
Ny to thy felows, yn no degré,
To mon or to wommon, whether he be,
Pay hem wel and trwly, for that wol we;
Therof on thy felow trwe record thou take,
For that good pay as thou dost make,
Lest hyt wolde thy felowe schame,
Any brynge thyself ynto gret blame.
[G]et good acowntes he most make
Of suche godes as he hath y-take,

Of thy felows goodes that thou hast spende,
Wher, and how, and to what ende;
Suche acowntes thou most come to,
Whenne thy felows wollen that thou do.

Decimus punctus.

The tenthe poynt presentyeth wel god lyf,
To lyven withoute care and stryf;
For and the mason lyve amysse,
And yn hys werk be false, y-wysse,
And thorw[g] suche a false skewysasyon
May sclawndren hys felows oute reson,
Throw[g] false sclawnder of suche fame

May make the craft kachone blame.
[G]ef he do the craft suche vylany,
Do hym no favour thenne securly.
Ny maynteine not hym yn wyked lyf,
Lest hyt wolde turne to care and stryf;
But get hym [g]e schul not delayme,
But that [g]e schullen hym constrayne,
For to apere whersevor [g]e wylle,
Whar that [g]e wolen, lowde, or stylle;
To the nexte semblé [g]e schul hym calle,
To apere byfore hys felows alle,
And but [g]ef he wyl byfore hem pere,

The crafte he moste nede forswere;
He schal thenne be chasted after the lawe
That was y-fownded by olde dawe.

Punctus undecimus.

The eleventhe poynt ys of good dyscrecyoun,
As [g]e mowe knowe by good resoun;
A mason, and he thys craft wel con,
That sy[g]th hys felow hewen on a ston,
And ys yn poynt to spylle that ston,
Amende hyt sone, [g]ef that thou con,
And teche hym thenne hyt to amende,

That the l(ordys) werke be not y-schende,
And teche hym esely hyt to amende,
With fayre wordes, that God the hath lende;
For hys sake that sytte above,
With swete wordes noresche hym love.

Punctus duodecimus.

The twelthe poynt of gret ryolté,
Ther as the semblé y-hole schal be,
Ther schul be maystrys and felows also,
And other grete lordes mony mo;
There schal be the scheref of that contré,
And also the meyr of that syté,
Kny[g]tes and sqwyers ther schul be,
And other aldermen, as [g]e schul se;
Suche ordynance as they maken there,

They schul maynté hyt hol y-fere
A[g]eynus that mon, whatsever he be,
That longuth to the craft bothe fayr and fre.
[G]ef he any stryf a[g]eynus hem make,
Ynto here warde he schal be take.

xiijus punctus.

The threnteth poynt ys to us ful luf.
He schal swere never to be no thef,
Ny soker hym yn hys fals craft,
For no good that he hath byraft,
And thou mowe hyt knowe or syn,
Nowther for hys good, ny for hys kyn.

xiiijus punctus.

The fowrtethe poynt ys ful good lawe
To hym that wold ben under awe;
A good trwe othe he most ther swere
To hys mayster and hys felows that ben there;
He most be stedefast and trwe also
To alle thys ordynance, whersever he go,
And to hys lyge lord the kynge,
To be trwe to hym, over alle thynge.
And alle these poyntes hyr before

To hem thou most nede by y-swore,
And alle schul swere the same ogth
Of the masonus, be they luf, ben they loght,
To alle these poyntes hyr byfore,

That hath ben ordeynt by ful good lore.
And they schul enquere every mon
On his party, as wyl as he con,
[G]ef any mon mowe be y-fownde gulty
Yn any of these poyntes spesyaly;
And whad he be, let hym be sow[g]ht,
And to the semblé let hym be brow[g]ht.

Quindecimus punctus.

The fiftethe poynt ys of ful good lore,
For hem that schul ben ther y-swore,
Suche ordyance at the semblé wes layd
Of grete lordes and maystres byforesayd;
For thelke that be unbuxom, y-wysse,

A[g]eynus the ordynance that ther ysse
Of these artyculus, that were y-meved there,
Of grete lordes and masonus al y-fere.
And [g]ef they ben y-preved opunly
Byfore that semblé, by an by,
And for here gultes no mendys wol make,
Thenne most they nede the crafy forsake;
And so masonus craft they schul refuse,
And swere hyt never more for to use.
But [g]ef that they wol mendys make,
A[g]ayn to the craft they schul never take;
And [g]ef that they nul not do so,
The scheref schal come hem sone to,

And putte here bodyes yn duppe prison,
For the trespasse that they hav y-don,
And take here goodes and here cattelle
Ynto the kynges hond, everyt delle,
And lete hem dwelle ther full stylle,
Tyl hyt be oure lege kynges wylle.

Alia ordinacio artis gematriae.

They ordent ther a semblé to be y-holde
Every [g]er, whersever they wolde,
To amende the defautes, [g]ef any where fonde
Amonge the craft withynne the londe;
Uche [g]er or thrydde [g]er hyt schuld be holde,

Yn every place whersever they wolde;
Tyme and place most be ordeynt also,
Yn what place they schul semble to.
Alle the men of craft tehr they most ben.
And other grete lordes, as [g]e mowe sen,
To mende the fautes that buth ther y-spoke,
[G]ef that eny of hem ben thenne y-broke.
Ther they schullen ben alle y-swore,
That longuth to thys craftes lore,
To kepe these statutes everychon,
That ben y-ordeynt by kynge Aldelston;
These statutes that y have hyr y-fonde

Y chulle they ben holde thro[g]h my londe,
For the worsche of my ry[g]olté,
That y have by my dygnyté.
Also at every semblé that [g]e holde,
That ge come to [g]owre lyge kyng bolde,
Bysechynge hym of hys hye grace,
To stonde with [g]ow yn every place,
To conferme the statutes of kynge Adelston,
That he ordeydnt to thys craft by good reson,

Ars quatuor coronatorum.

Pray we now to God almy[g]ht,
And to hys moder Mary bry[g]ht,

That we mowe keepe these artyculus here,
And these poynts wel al y-fere,
As dede these holy martyres fowre,
That yn thys craft were of gret honoure;
They were as gode masonus as on erthe schul go,
Gravers and ymage-makers they were also.
For they were werkemen of the beste,
The emperour hade to hem gret luste;
He wylned of hem a ymage to make,
That mow[g]h be worscheped for his sake;
Suche mawmetys he hade yn hys dawe,
To turne the pepul from Crystus lawe.

But they were stedefast yn Crystes lay,
And to here craft, withouten nay;
They loved wel God and alle hys lore,
And weren yn hys serves ever more.
Trwe men they were yn that dawe,
And lyved wel y Goddus lawe;
They tho[g]ght no mawmetys for to make,
For no good that they my[g]th take,
To levyn on that mawmetys for here God,
They nolde do so thaw[g] he were wod;
For they nolde not forsake here trw fay,

An beyleve on hys falsse lay.
The emperour let take hem sone anone,
And putte hem ynto a dep presone;
The sarre he penest hem yn that plase,
The more yoye wes to hem of Cristus grace.
Thenne when he sye no nother won,
To dethe he lette hem thenne gon;
Whose wol of here lyf [g]et mor knowe,
By the bok he may kyt schowe,
In the legent of scanctorum,
The name of quatour coronatorum.

Here fest wol be, withoute nay,
After Alle Halwen the eyght day.
[G]e mow here as y do rede,
That mony [g]eres after, for gret drede
That Noees flod wes alle y-ronne,
The tower of Babyloyne was begonne,
Also playne werke of lyme and ston,
As any mon schulde loke uppon;
So long and brod hyt was begonne,
Seven myle the he[g]ghte schadweth the sonne.
King Nabogodonosor let hyt make,
To gret strenthe for monus sake,

Tha[g]gh suche a flod a[g]ayne schulde come,
Over the werke hyt schulde not nome;
For they hadde so hy pride, with stronge bost,
Alle that werke therfore was y-lost;
An angele smot hem so with dyveres speche,
That never won wyste what other schuld reche.
Mony eres after, the goode clerk Euclyde
Ta[g]ghte the craft of gemetré wonder wyde,
So he ded that tyme other also,
Of dyvers craftes mony mo.
Thro[g]gh hye grace of Crist yn heven,
He commensed yn the syens seven;

Gramatica ys the furste syens y-wysse,
Dialetica the secunde, so have y blysse,
Rethorica the thrydde, withoute nay,
Musica ys the fowrth, as y [g]ow say,
Astromia ys the v, by my snowte,
Arsmetica the vi, withoute dowte
Gemetria the seventhe maketh an ende,
For he ys bothe make and hende,
Gramer forsothe ys the rote,
Whose wyl lurne on the boke;
But art passeth yn hys degré,
As the fryte doth the rote of the tre;

Rethoryk metryth with orne speche amonge,
And musyke hyt ys a swete song;
Astronomy nombreth, my dere brother,
Arsmetyk scheweth won thyng that ys another,
Gemetré the seventh syens hyt ysse,
That con deperte falshed from trewthe y-wys.
These bene the syens seven,
Whose useth hem wel, he may han heven.
Now dere chyldren, by [g]owre wytte,
Pride and covetyse that [g]e leven, hytte,
And taketh hede to goode dyscrecyon,
And to good norter, whersever [g]e com.
Now y pray [g]ow take good hede,

For thys [g]e most kenne nede,
But much more [g]e moste wyten,
Thenne [g]e fynden hyr y-wryten.
[G]ef the fayle therto wytte,
Pray to God to send the hytte;
For Crist hymself, he techet ous
That holy churche ys Goddes hous,
That ys y-mad for nothynge ellus
but for to pray yn, as the bok tellus;
Ther the pepul schal gedur ynne,
To pray and wepe for here synne.
Loke thou come not to churche late,
For to speke harlotry by the gate;

Thenne to churche when thou dost fare,
Have yn thy mynde ever mare
To worschepe thy lord God bothe day and ny[g]th,
With all thy wyttes, and eke thy my[g]th.
To the churche dore when tou dost come,
Of that holy water ther sum thow nome,
For every drope thou felust ther
Qwenchet a venyal synne, be thou ser.
But furst thou most do down thy hode,
For hyse love that dyed on the rode.
Into the churche when thou dost gon,
Pulle uppe thy herte to Crist, anon;

Uppon the rode thou loke uppe then,
And knele down fayre on bothe thy knen;
Then pray to hym so hyr to worche,
After the lawe of holy churche,
For to kepe the comandementes ten,
That God [g]af to alle men;
And pray to hym with mylde steven
To kepe the from the synnes seven,
That thou hyr mowe, yn thy lyve,
Kepe the wel from care and stryve,
Forthermore he grante the grace,
In heven blysse to hav a place.

In holy churche lef nyse wordes
Of lewed speche, and fowle bordes,
And putte away alle vanyté,
And say thy pater noster and thyn ave;
Loke also thou make no bere,
But ay to be yn thy prayere;
[G]ef thou wolt not thyselve pray,
Latte non other mon by no way.
In that place nowther sytte ny stonde,
But knele fayre down on the gronde,
And, when the Gospel me rede schal,

Fayre thou stonde up fro the wal,
And blesse the fayre, [g]ef that thou conne,
When gloria tibi is begonne;
And when the gospel ys y-done,
A[g]ayn thou my[g]th knele adown;
On bothe thy knen down thou falle,
For hyse love that bow[g]ht us alle;
And when thou herest the belle rynge
To that holy sakerynge,
Knele [g]e most, bothe [g]yn[g]e and olde,
And bothe [g]or hondes fayr upholde,
And say thenne yn thys manere,

Fayr and softe, withoute bere;
“Jhesu Lord, welcom thou be,
Yn forme of bred, as y the se.
Now Jhesu, for thyn holy name,
Schulde me from synne and schame,
Schryff and hosel thou grant me bo,
[G]er that y schal hennus go,
And vey contrycyon of my synne,
Tath y never, Lord, dye therynne;
And, as thou were of a mayde y-bore,
Sofre me never to be y-lore;
But when y schal hennus wende,

Grante me the blysse withoute ende;
Amen! amen! so mot hyt be!
Now, swete lady, pray for me."
Thus thou my[g]ht say, or sum other thynge,
When thou knelust at the sakerynge.
For covetyse after good, spare thou nought
To worschepe hym that alle hath wrought;
For glad may a mon that day ben,
That onus yn the day may hym sen;
Hyt ys so muche worthe, withoute nay,
The vertu therof no mon telle may;
But so meche good doth that syht,

As seynt Austyn telluth ful ryht,
That day thou syst Goddus body,
Thou schalt have these, ful securly:-
Mete and drynke at thy nede,
Non that day schal the gnede;
Ydul othes, an wordes bo,
God for[g]eveth the also;
Soden deth, that ylke day,
The dar not drede by no way;
Also that day, y the plyht,
Thou schalt not lese thy eye syht;
And uche fote that thou gost then,

That holy syht for to sen,
They schul be told to stonde yn stede,
When thou hast therto gret nede;
That messongere, the angele Gabryelle,
Wol kepe hem to the ful welle.
From thys mater now y may passe,
To telle mo medys of the masse:
To churche come [g]et, [g]ef thou may,
And here thy masse uche day;
[G]ef thou mowe not come to churche,
Wher that ever thou doste worche,
When thou herest to masse knylle,

Pray to God with herte stylle,
To [g]eve the part of that servyse,
That yn churche ther don yse.
Forthermore [g]et, y wol [g]ow preche
To [g]owre felows, hyt for to teche,
When thou comest byfore a lorde,
Yn halle, yn bowre, or at the borde,
Hod or cappe that thou of do,

[G]er thou come hym allynge to;
Twyes or thryes, without dowte,
To that lord thou moste lowte;
With thy ry[g]th kne let hyt be do,
Thyn owne worschepe tou save so.
Holde of thy cappe, and hod also,
Tyl thou have leve hyt on to do.
Al the whyle thou spekest with hym,
Fayre and lovelyche bere up thy chyn;
So, after the norter of the boke,
Yn hys face lovely thou loke.
Fot and hond, thou kepe ful stylle
From clawynge and trypynge, ys sckylle;
From spyttynge and snyftynge kepe the also,
By privy avoydans let hyt go.
And [g]ef that thou be wyse and felle,

Thou hast gret nede to governe the welle.
Ynto the halle when thou dost wende,
Amonges the genteles, good and hende,
Presume not to hye for nothynge,
For thyn hye blod, ny thy connynge,
Nowther to sytte, ny to lene,
That ys norther good and clene.
Let not thy cowntenans therfore abate,
Forsothe, good norter wol save thy state.
Fader and moder, whatsever they be,
Wel ys the chyld that wel may the,
Yn halle, yn chamber, wher thou dost gon;

Gode maneres maken a mon.
To the nexte degré loke wysly,
To do hem reverans by and by;
Do hem [g]et no reverans al o-rowe,
But [g]ef that thou do hem know.
To the mete when thou art y-sette,
Fayre and onestelyche thou ete hytte;
Fyrst loke that thyn honden be clene,
And that thy knyf be scharpe and kene;
And kette thy bred al at thy mete,
Ry[g]th as hyt may be ther y-ete.
[G]ef thou sytte by a worththyur mon.

Then thy selven thou art won,
Sofre hym fyrst to toyche the mete,
[G]er thyself to hyt reche.
To the fayrest mossel thou my[g]ht not strike,
Thaght that thou do hyt wel lyke;
Kepe thyn hondes, fayr and wel,
From fowle smogynge of thy towel;
Theron thou schalt not thy nese snyte,
Ny at the mete thy tothe thou pyke;
To depe yn the coppe thou my[g]ght not synke,
Thagh thou have good wyl to drynke,
Lest thyn enyn wolde wattryn therby–

Then were hyt no curtesy
Loke yn thy mowth ther be no mete,
When thou begynnyst to drynke or speke.
When thou syst any mon drynkynge,
That taketh hed to thy carpynge,
Sone anonn thou sese thy tale,
Whether he drynke wyn other ale.
Loke also thou scorne no mon,
Yn what degré thou syst hym gon;
Ny thou schalt no mon deprave,
[G]ef thou wolt thy worschepe save;
For suche worde my[g]ht ther outberste,

That myg[h]t make the sytte yn evel reste,
Close thy honde yn thy fyste,
And kepe the wel from “had-y-wyste."
Yn chamber amonge the ladyes bryght,
Holde thy tonge and spende thy syght;
Law[g]e thou not with no gret cry,
Ny make no ragynge with rybody.
Play thou not buyt with thy peres,
Ny tel thou not al that thou heres;
Dyskever thou not thyn owne dede,
For no merthe, ny for no mede;
With fayr speche thou myght have thy wylle,
With hyt thou myght thy selven spylle.

When thou metyst a worthy mon,
Cappe and hod thou holle not on;
Yn churche, yn chepyns, or yn the gate,
Do hym revera(n)s after hys state.
[G]ef thou gost with a worthyor mon
Then thyselven thou art won,
Let thy forther schulder sewe hys backe,
For that ys norter withoute lacke;
When he doth speke, holte the stylle,
When he hath don, sey for thy wylle;
Yn thy speche that thou be felle,
And what thou sayst avyse the welle;
But byref thou not hym hys tale,
Nowther at the wyn, ny at the ale.
Cryst then of hys hye grace,
[G]eve [g]ow bothe wytte and space,
Wel thys boke to conne and rede,
Heven to have for [g]owre mede.
Amen! amen! so mot hyt be!
Say we so all per charyté.

Here begin the constitutions of the art of Geometry according to Euclid.

Whoever will both well read and look
He may find written in old book
Of great lords and also ladies,
That had many children together, y-wisse; (certainly)
And had no income to keep them with,
Neither in town nor field nor frith; (enclosed wood)
A council together they could them take,
To ordain for these children’s sake,
How they might best lead their life
Without great disease, care, and strife;
And most for the multitude that was coming
Of their children after their ending
They send them after great clerks,
To teach them then good works;

And pray we them, for our Lord’s sake.
To our children some work to make,
That they might get their living thereby,
Both well and honestly full securely.
In that time, through good geometry,
This honest craft of good masonry
Was ordained and made in this manner,
Counterfeited of these clerks together;
At these lord’s prayers they counterfeited geometry,
And gave it the name of masonry,
For the most honest craft of all.
These lords’ children thereto did fall,
To learn of him the craft of geometry,
The which he made full curiously;

Through fathers’ prayers and mothers’ also,
This honest craft he put them to.
He learned best, and was of honesty,
And passed his fellows in curiosity,
If in that craft he did him pass,
He should have more worship than the less,
This great clerk’s name was Euclid,
His name it spread full wonder wide.
Yet this great clerk ordained he
To him that was higher in this degree,
That he should teach the simplest of wit
In that honest craft to be perfect;
And so each one shall teach the other,
And love together as sister and brother.

Furthermore yet that ordained he,
Master called so should he be;
So that he were most worshipped,
Then should he be so called;
But masons should never one another call,
Within the craft amongst them all,
Neither subject nor servant, my dear brother,
Though he be not so perfect as is another;
Each shall call other fellows by cuthe, (friendship)
Because they come of ladies’ birth.
On this manner, through good wit of geometry,
Began first the craft of masonry;
The clerk Euclid on this wise it found,
This craft of geometry in Egypt land.

In Egypt he taught it full wide,
In divers lands on every side;
Many years afterwards, I understand,
Ere that the craft came into this land.
This craft came into England, as I you say,
In time of good King Athelstane’s day;
He made then both hall and even bower,
And high temples of great honour,
To disport him in both day and night,
And to worship his God with all his might.
This good lord loved this craft full well,
And purposed to strengthen it every del, (part)
For divers faults that in the craft he found;
He sent about into the land

After all the masons of the craft,
To come to him full even straight,
For to amend these defaults all
By good counsel, if it might fall.
An assembly then he could let make
Of divers lords in their state,
Dukes, earls, and barons also,
Knights, squires and many mo, (more)
And the great burgesses of that city,
They were there all in their degree;
There were there each one algate, (always)
To ordain for these masons’ estate,
There they sought by their wit,
How they might govern it;

Fifteen articles they there sought,
And fifteen points there they wrought,

Here begins the first article.

The first article of this geometry;–
The master mason must be full securely
Both steadfast, trusty and true,
It shall him never then rue;
And pay thy fellows after the cost,
As victuals goeth then, well thou woste; (knowest)
And pay them truly, upon thy faith,
What they deserven may; (may deserve)
And to their hire take no more,
But what that they may serve for;
And spare neither for love nor dread,

Of neither parties to take no mede; (bribe)
Of lord nor fellow, whoever he be,
Of them thou take no manner of fee;
And as a judge stand upright,
And then thou dost to both good right;
And truly do this wheresoever thou goest
Thy worship, thy profit, it shall be most.

Second article.

The second article of good masonry,
As you must it here hear specially,
That every master, that is a mason,
Must be at the general congregation,
So that he it reasonably be told
Where that the assembly shall be held;

And to that assembly he must needs go,
Unless he have a reasonable skwasacyon, (excuse)
Or unless he be disobedient to that craft
Or with falsehood is over-raft, (overtaken)
Or else sickness hath him so strong,
That he may not come them among;
That is an excuse good and able,
To that assembly without fable.

Third article.

The third article forsooth it is,
That the master takes to no ‘prentice,
Unless he have good assurance to dwell
Seven years with him, as I you tell,
His craft to learn, that is profitable;

Within less he may not be able
To lords’ profit, nor to his own,
As you may know by good reason.

Fourth article.

The fourth article this must be,
That the master him well besee,
That he no bondman ‘prentice make,
Nor for no covetousness do him take;
For the lord that he is bound to,
May fetch the ‘prentice wheresoever he go.
If in the lodge he were taken,
Much disease it might there make,
And such case it might befall,
That it might grieve some or all.

For all the masons that be there
Will stand together all y-fere. (together)
If such one in that craft should dwell,
Of divers diseases you might tell;
For more ease then, and of honesty,
Take a ‘prentice of higher degree.
By old time written I find
That the ‘prentice should be of gentle kind;
And so sometime, great lords’ blood
Took this geometry that is full good.

Fifth article.

The fifth article is very good,
So that the ‘prentice be of lawful blood;
The master shall not, for no advantage,

Make no ‘prentice that is outrage; (deformed)
It is to mean, as you may hear
That he have all his limbs whole all y-fere; (together)
To the craft it were great shame,
To make a halt man and a lame,
For an imperfect man of such blood
Should do the craft but little good.
Thus you may know every one,
The craft would have a mighty man;
A maimed man he hath no might,
You must it know long ere night.

Sixth article.

The sixth article you must not miss
That the master do the lord no prejudice,
To take the lord for his ‘prentice,
As much as his fellows do, in all wise.
For in that craft they be full perfect,
So is not he, you must see it.
Also it were against good reason,
To take his hire as his fellows do.
This same article in this case,
Judgeth his prentice to take less
Than his fellows, that be full perfect.
In divers matters, know requite it,
The master may his ‘prentice so inform,
That his hire may increase full soon,

And ere his term come to an end,
His hire may full well amend.

Seventh article.

The seventh article that is now here,
Full well will tell you all y-fere (together)
That no master for favour nor dread,
Shall no thief neither clothe nor feed.
Thieves he shall harbour never one,
Nor him that hath killed a man,
Nor the same that hath a feeble name,
Lest it would turn the craft to shame.

Eighth article.

The eighth article sheweth you so,

That the master may it well do.
If that he have any man of craft,
And he be not so perfect as he ought,
He may him change soon anon,
And take for him a more perfect man.
Such a man through rechalaschepe, (recklessness)
Might do the craft scant worship.

Ninth article.

The ninth article sheweth full well,
That the master be both wise and felle; (strong)
That he no work undertake,
Unless he can both it end and make;
And that it be to the lords’ profit also,

And to his craft, wheresoever he go;
And that the ground be well y-take, (taken)
That it neither flaw nor grake. (crack)

Tenth article.

The tenth article is for to know,
Among the craft, to high and low,
There shall no master supplant another,
But be together as sister and brother,
In this curious craft, all and some,
That belongeth to a master mason.
Nor shall he supplant no other man,
That hath taken a work him upon,
In pain thereof that is so strong,

That weigheth no less than ten pounds,
but if that he be guilty found,
That took first the work on hand;
For no man in masonry
Shall not supplant other securely,
But if that it be so wrought,
That in turn the work to nought;
Then may a mason that work crave,
To the lords’ profit for it to save
In such a case if it do fall,
There shall no mason meddle withal.
Forsooth he that beginneth the ground,
If he be a mason good and sound,
He hath it securely in his mind

To bring the work to full good end.

Eleventh article.

The eleventh article I tell thee,
That he is both fair and free;
For he teacheth, by his might,
That no mason should work by night,
But if be in practising of wit,
If that I could amend it.

Twelfth article.

The twelfth article is of high honesty
To every mason wheresoever he be,
He shall not his fellows’ work deprave,
If that he will his honesty save;
With honest words he it commend,

By the wit God did thee send;
But it amend by all that thou may,
Between you both without nay. (doubt)

Thirteenth article,

The thirteenth article, so God me save,
Is if that the master a ‘prentice have,
Entirely then that he him teach,
And measurable points that he him reche, (tell)
That he the craft ably may conne, (know)
Wheresoever he go under the sun.

Fourteenth article.

The fourteenth article by good reason,
Sheweth the master how he shall don; (do)
He shall no ‘prentice to him take,

Unless diver cares he have to make,
That he may within his term,
Of him divers points may learn.

Fifteenth article.

The fifteenth article maketh an end,
For to the master he is a friend;
To teach him so, that for no man,
No false maintenance he take him upon,
Nor maintain his fellows in their sin,
For no good that he might win;
Nor no false oath suffer him to make,
For dread of their souls’ sake,
Lest it would turn the craft to shame,
And himself to very much blame.

Plural constitutions.

At this assembly were points ordained mo, (more)
Of great lords and masters also.
That who will know this craft and come to estate,
He must love well God and holy church algate, (always)
And his master also that he is with,
Wheresoever he go in field or frythe, (enclosed wood)
And thy fellows thou love also,
For that thy craft will that thou do.

Second Point.

The second point as I you say,

That the mason work upon the work day,
As truly as he can or may,
To deserve his hire for the holy-day,

And truly to labour on his deed,
Well deserve to have his mede. (reward)

Third point.

The third point must be severely,
With the ‘prentice know it well,
His master’s counsel he keep and close,
And his fellows by his good purpose;
The privities of the chamber tell he no man,
Nor in the lodge whatsoever they do;
Whatsoever thou hearest or seest them do,
Tell it no man wheresoever you go;
The counsel of hall, and even of bower,

Keep it well to great honour,
Lest it would turn thyself to blame,
And bring the craft into great shame.

Fourth point.

The fourth point teacheth us also,
That no man to his craft be false;
Error he shall maintain none
Against the craft, but let it go;
Nor no prejudice he shall not do
To his master, nor his fellow also;
And though the ‘prentice be under awe,
Yet he would have the same law.

Fifth point.

The fifth point is without nay, (doubt)
That when the mason taketh his pay
Of the master, ordained to him,
Full meekly taken so must it be;
Yet must the master by good reason,
Warn him lawfully before noon,
If he will not occupy him no more,
As he hath done there before;
Against this order he may not strive,
If he think well for to thrive.

Sixth point.

The sixth point is full given to know,
Both to high and even to low,

For such case it might befall;
Among the masons some or all,
Through envy or deadly hate,
Oft ariseth full great debate.
Then ought the mason if that he may,
Put them both under a day;
But loveday yet shall they make none,
Till that the work-day be clean gone
Upon the holy-day you must well take
Leisure enough loveday to make,
Lest that it would the work-day
Hinder their work for such a fray;
To such end then that you them draw.

That they stand well in G-d’s law.

Seventh point.

The seventh point he may well mean,
Of well long life that God us lend,
As it descrieth well openly,
Thou shalt not by thy master’s wife lie,
Nor by thy fellows', in no manner wise,
Lest the craft would thee despise;
Nor by thy fellows’ concubine,
No more thou wouldst he did by thine.
The pain thereof let it be sure,
That he be ‘prentice full seven year,
If he forfeit in any of them

So chastised then must he be;
Full much care might there begin,
For such a foul deadly sin.

Eighth point.

The eighth point, he may be sure,
If thou hast taken any cure,
Under thy master thou be true,
For that point thou shalt never rue;
A true mediator thou must needs be
To thy master, and thy fellows free;
Do truly all that thou might,
To both parties, and that is good right.

Ninth point.

The ninth point we shall him call,
That he be steward of our hall,
If that you be in chamber y-fere, (together)
Each one serve other with mild cheer;
Gentle fellows, you must it know,
For to be stewards all o-rowe, (in turn)
Week after week without doubt,
Stewards to be so all in turn about,
Amiably to serve each one other,
As though they were sister and brother;
There shall never one another costage (cost)
Free himself to no advantage,
But every man shall be equally free

In that cost, so must it be;
Look that thou pay well every man algate, (always)
That thou hast bought any victuals ate, (eaten)
That no craving be made to thee,
Nor to thy fellows in no degree,
To man or to woman, whoever he be,
Pay them well and truly, for that will we;
Thereof on thy fellow true record thou take,
For that good pay as thou dost make,
Lest it would thy fellow shame,
And bring thyself into great blame.
Yet good accounts he must make
Of such goods as he hath y-take (taken)

Of thy fellows’ goods that thou hast spent,
Where and how and to what end;
Such accounts thou must come to,
When thy fellows wish that thou do.

Tenth point.

The tenth point presenteth well good life,
To live without care and strife;
For if the mason live amiss,
And in his work be false y-wisse, (I know)
And through such a false skewsasyon (excuse)
May slander his fellows without reason,
Through false slander of such fame.

May make the craft acquire blame.
If he do the craft such villainy,
Do him no favour then securely,
Nor maintain not him in wicked life,
Lest it would turn to care and strife;
But yet him you shall not delay,
Unless that you shall him constrain,
For to appear wheresoever you will,
Where that you will, loud, or still;
To the next assembly you shall him call,
To appear before his fellows all,
And unless he will before them appear,

The craft he must need forswear;
He shall then be punished after the law
That was founded by old day.

Eleventh point.

The eleventh point is of good discretion,
As you must know by good reason;
A mason, if he this craft well con, (know,
That seeth his fellow hew on a stone,
And is in point to spoil that stone,
Amend it soon if that thou can,
And teach him then it to amend,

That the lords’ work be not y-schende, (spoiled)
And teach him easily it to amend,
With fair words, that God thee hath lent;
For his sake that sit above,
With sweet words nourish his love.

Twelfth point.

The twelfth point is of great royalty,
There as the assembly held shall be,
There shall be masters and fellows also,
And other great lords many mo; (more)
There shall be the sheriff of that country,
And also the mayor of that city,
Knights and squires there shall be,
And also aldermen, as you shall see;
Such ordinance as they make there,

They shall maintain it all y-fere (together)
Against that man, whatsoever he be,
That belongeth to the craft both fair and free.
If he any strife against them make,
Into their custody he shall be take. (taken)

Thirteenth point.

The thirteenth point is to us full life,
He shall swear never to be no thief,
Nor succour him in his false craft,
For no good that he hath bereft;
And thou must it know or sin,
Neither for his good, nor for his kin.

Fourteenth point.

The fourteenth point is full good law
To him that would be under awe;
A good true oath he must there swear
To his master and his fellows that be there;
He must be steadfast and also true
To all this ordinance, wheresoever he go,
And to his liege lord the king,
To be true to him over all thing.
And all these points here before

To them thou must need be y-swore, (sworn)
And all shall swear the same oath
Of the masons, be they lief be they loath.
To all these points here before,

That hath been ordained by full good lore.
And they shall enquire every man
Of his party, as well as he can,
If any man may be found guilty
In any of these points specially;
And who he be, let him be sought,
And to the assembly let him be brought.

Fifteen point.

The fifteenth point is of full good lore,
For them that shall be there y-swore, (sworn)
Such ordinance at the assembly was laid
Of great lords and masters before said;
For the same that be disobedient, y-wisse, (I know)

Against the ordinance that there is,
Of these articles that were moved there,
Of great lords and masons all y-fere, (together)
And if they be proved openly
Before that assembly, by and by,
And for their guilt’s no amends will make,
Then must they need the craft forsake;
And no masons craft they shall refuse,
And swear it never more to use.
But if that they will amends make,
Again to the craft they shall never take;
And if that they will not do so,
The sheriff shall come them soon to,

And put their bodies in deep prison,
For the trespass that they have done,
And take their goods and their cattle
Into the king’s hand, every delle, (part)
And let them dwell there full still,
Till it be our liege king’s will.

Another ordinance of the art of geometry.

They ordained there an assembly to behold,
Every year, wheresoever they would,
To amend the defaults, if any were found
Among the craft within the land;
Each year or third year it should be held,

In every place weresoever they would;
Time and place must be ordained also,
In what place they should assemble to,
All the men of craft there they must be,
And other great lords, as you must see,
To mend the faults that he there spoken,
If that any of them be then broken.
There they shall be all y-swore, (sworn)
That belongeth to this craft’s lore,
To keep their statutes every one
That were ordained by King Athelstane;
These statutes that I have here found

I ordain they be held through my land,
For the worship of my royalty,
That I have by my dignity.
Also at every assembly that you hold,
That you come to your liege king bold,
Beseeching him of his high grace,
To stand with you in every place,
To confirm the statutes of King Athelstane,
That he ordained to this craft by good reason.

The art of the four crowned ones.

Pray we now to God almight, (almighty)
And to his mother Mary bright,

That we may keep these articles here,
And these points well all y-fere, (together)
As did these holy martyrs four,
That in this craft were of great honour;
They were as good masons as on earth shall go,
Gravers and image-makers they were also.
For they were workmen of the best,
The emperor had to them great luste; (liking)
He willed of them an image to make
That might be worshipped for his sake;
Such monuments he had in his day,
To turn the people from Christ’s law.

But they were steadfast in Christ’s lay, (law)
And to their craft without nay; (doubt)
They loved well God and all his lore,
And were in his service ever more.
True men they were in that dawe, (day)
And lived well in God’s law;
They thought no monuments for to make,
For no good that they might take,
To believe on that monument for their God,
They would not do so, though he were wod; (furious)
For they would not forsake their true faith,

And believe on his false lay, (law)
The emperor let take them soon anon,
And put them in a deep prison;
The more sorely he punished them in that place,
The more joy was to them of Christ’s grace,
Then when he saw no other one,
To death he let them then go;
Whose will of their life yet more know
By the book he might it show
In the legend of sanctorum (holy ones)
The names of the quatuor coronatorum.

Their feast will be without nay, (doubt)
After Halloween the eighth day.
You may hear as I do read,
That many years after, for great dread
That Noah’s flood was all run,
The tower of Babylon was begun,
As plain work of lime and stone,
As any man should look upon;
So long and broad it was begun,
Seven miles the height shadoweth the sun.
King Nebuchadnezzar let it make
To great strength for man’s sake,

Though such a flood again should come,
Over the work it should not nome; (take)
For they had so high pride, with strong boast
All that work therefore was lost;
An angel smote them so with divers speech,
That never one knew what the other should tell.
Many years after, the good clerk Euclid
Taught the craft of geometry full wonder wide,
So he did that other time also,
Of divers crafts many more.
Through high grace of Christ in heaven,
He commenced in the sciences seven;

Grammar is the first science I know,
Dialect the second, so I have I bliss,
Rhetoric the third without nay, (doubt)
Music is the fourth, as I you say,
Astronomy is the fifth, by my snout,
Arithmetic the sixth, without doubt,
Geometry the seventh maketh an end,
For he is both meek and hende, (courteous)
Grammar forsooth is the root,
Whoever will learn on the book;
But art passeth in his degree,
As the fruit doth the root of the tree;

Rhetoric measureth with ornate speech among,
And music it is a sweet song;
Astronomy numbereth, my dear brother,
Arithmetic sheweth one thing that is another,
Geometry the seventh science it is,
That can separate falsehood from truth, I know.
These be the sciences seven,
Who useth them well he may have heaven.
Now dear children by your wit
Pride and covetousness that you leave it,
And taketh heed to good discretion,
And to good nurture, wheresoever you come.
Now I pray you take good heed,

For this you must know needs,
But much more you must wyten, (know)
Than you find here written.
If thee fail thereto wit,
Pray to God to send thee it:
For Christ himself, he teacheth us
That holy church is God’s house,
That is made for nothing else
But for to pray in, as the book tells us;
There the people shall gather in,
To pray and weep for their sin.
Look thou come not to church late,
For to speak harlotry by the gate;

Then to church when thou dost fare,
Have in thy mind ever mare (more)
To worship thy lord God both day and night,
With all thy wits and even thy might.
To the church door when thou dost come
Of that holy water there some thou nome, (take)
For every drop thou feelest there
Quencheth a venial sin, be thou sure.
But first thou must do down thy hood,
For his love that died on the rood.
Into the church when thou dost go,
Pull up thy heart to Christ, anon;

Upon the rood thou look up then,
And kneel down fair upon thy knees
Then pray to him so here to work
After the law of holy church,
For to keep the commandments ten,
That God gave to all men;
And pray to him with mild steven (voice)
To keep thee from the sins seven,
That thou here may, in this life,
Keep thee well from care and strife;
Furthermore he grant thee grace,
In heaven’s bliss to have a place.

In holy church leave trifling words
Of lewd speech and foul bordes, (jests)
And put away all vanity,
And say thy pater noster and thine ave;
Look also that thou make no bere, (noise)
But always to be in thy prayer;
If thou wilt not thyself pray,
Hinder no other man by no way.
In that place neither sit nor stand,
But kneel fair down on the ground,
And when the Gospel me read shall,

Fairly thou stand up from the wall,
And bless the fare if that thou can,
When gloria tibi is begun;
And when the gospel is done,
Again thou might kneel down,
On both knees down thou fall,
For his love that bought us all;
And when thou hearest the bell ring
To that holy sakerynge, (sacrament)
Kneel you must both young and old,
And both your hands fair uphold,
And say then in this manner,

Fair and soft without noise;
"Jesus Lord welcome thou be,
In form of bread as I thee see,
Now Jesus for thine holy name,
Shield me from sin and shame;
Shrift and Eucharist thou grant me both,
Ere that I shall hence go,
And very contrition for my sin,
That I never, Lord, die therein;
And as thou were of maid y-bore (born)
Suffer me never to be y-lore; (lost)
But when I shall hence wend,

Grant me the bliss without end;
Amen! Amen! so mote it be!
Now sweet lady pray for me."
Thus thou might say, or some other thing,
When thou kneelest at the sakerynge. (sacrament)
For covetousness after good, spare thou not
To worship him that all hath wrought;
For glad may a man that day be,
That once in the day may him see;
It is so much worth, without nay, (doubt)
The virtue thereof no man tell may;
But so much good doth that sight,

That Saint Austin telleth full right,
That day thou seest God’s body,
Thou shalt have these full securely:-
Meet and drink at thy need,
None that day shalt thou gnede; (lack)
Idle oaths and words bo, (both)
God forgiveth thee also;
Sudden death that same day
Thee dare not dread by no way;
Also that day, I thee plight,
Thou shalt not lose thy eye sight;
And each foot that thou goest then,

That holy sight for to seen,
They shall be told to stand instead,
When thou hast thereto great need;
That messenger the angel Gabriel,
Will keep them to thee full well.
From this matter now I may pass,
To tell more benefits of the mass:
To church come yet, if thou may,
And hear the mass each day;
If thou may not come to church,
Where that ever thou dost work,
When thou hearest the mass knylle, (toll)

Pray to God with heart still,
To give they part of that service,
That in church there done is.
Furthermore yet, I will you preach
To your fellows, it for to teach,
When thou comest before a lord,
In hall, in bower, or at the board,
Hood or cap that thou off do,

Ere thou come him entirely to;
Twice or thrice, without doubt,
To that lord thou must bow;
With thy right knee let it be done,
Thine own worship thou save so.
Hold off thy cap and hood also,
Till thou have leave it on to do. (put)
All the time thou speakest with him,
Fair and amiably hold up thy chin;
So after the nurture of the book,
In his face kindly thou look.
Foot and hand thou keep full still,
For clawing and tripping, is skill;
From spitting and sniffling keep thee also,
By private expulsion let it go,
And if that thou be wise and felle, (discrete)

Thou has great need to govern thee well.
Into the hall when thou dost wend,
Amongst the gentles, good and hende, (courteous)
Presume not too high for nothing,
For thine high blood, nor thy cunning,
Neither to sit nor to lean,
That is nurture good and clean.
Let not thy countenance therefore abate,
Forsooth good nurture will save thy state.
Father and mother, whatsoever they be,
Well is the child that well may thee,
In hall, in chamber, where thou dost go;

Good manners make a man.
To the next degree look wisely,
To do them reverence by and by;
Do them yet no reverence all o-rowe, (in turn)
Unless that thou do them know.
To the meat when thou art set,
Fair and honestly thou eat it;
First look that thine hands be clean,
And that thy knife be sharp and keen,
And cut thy bread all at thy meat,
Right as it may be there y-ete. (eaten)
If thou sit by a worthier man,

Then thy self thou art one,
Suffer him first to touch the meat,
Ere thyself to it reach.
To the fairest morsel thou might not strike,
Though that thou do it well like;
Keep thine hands fair and well,
From foul smudging of thy towel;
Thereon thou shalt not thy nose smite. (blow)
Nor at the meat thy tooth thou pike; (pick)
Too deep in cup thou might not sink,
Though thou have good will to drink,
Lest thine eyes would water thereby–

Then were it no courtesy.
Look in thy mouth there be no meat,
When thou beginnest to drink or speak.
When thou seest any man drinking,
That taketh heed to thy carpynge, (speech)
Soon anon thou cease thy tale,
Whether he drink wine or ale,
Look also thou scorn no man,
In what degree thou seest him gone;
Nor thou shalt no man deprave,
If thou wilt thy worship save;
For such word might there outburst.

That might make thee sit in evil rest.
Close thy hand in thy fist,
And keep thee well from “had I known".
In chamber, among the ladies bright,
Hold thy tongue and spend thy sight;
Laugh thou not with no great cry,
Nor make no lewd sport and ribaldry.
Play thou not but with thy peers,
Nor tell thou not all that thou hears;
Discover thou not thine own deed,
For no mirth, nor for no mede: (reward)
With fair speech thou might have thy will,
With it thou might thy self spoil.

When thou meetest a worthy man,
Cap and hood thou hold not on;
In church, in market, or in the gate,
Do him reverence after his state.
If thou goest with a worthier man
Then thyself thou art one,
Let thy foremost shoulder follow his back,
For that is nurture without lack;
When he doth speak, hold thee still,
When he hath done, say for thy will,
In thy speech that thou be felle, (discreet)
And what thou sayest consider thee well;
But deprive thou not him his tale,
Neither at the wine nor at the ale.
Christ then of his high grace,
Save you both wit and space,
Well this book to know and read,
Heaven to have for your mede. (reward)
Amen! Amen! so mote it be!
So say we all for charity.

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“Which Are You?”

author unknown, courtesy of Oriental Lodge No. 33, Chicago, Illinois

Are you an active member, the kind who would be missed,
or are you just contented that your name is on the list?

Do you attend the meetings, and mingle with the flock,
or do you stay at home and criticize and knock?

Do you take an active part to help the work along,
or are you satisfied to be the kind that “just belong”?

Do you ever go to visit a member who is sick,
or leave the work to just a few and talk about the clique?

There is quite a programme scheduled that I’m sure you’ve heard about,
and we’ll appreciate if you, too, would come and help us out.

So come to the meetings often and help with hand and heart.
Don’t be just a member, but take an active part.

Think this over, member; you know right from wrong.
Are you an active member, or do you just belong?

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“The Lambskin Apron”

author unknown, courtesy of Paul “Big Dog” Townsend

It is not ornamental, the cost is not so great,
There are other things far more useful, yet truly here I do state:
Though of all my possessions, there’s none which can compare,
With that white leathern apron, which all Freemasons wear.

As a lad I wondered just what it all meant,
When Dad hustled around, and so much time was spent,
On shaving and dressing and looking just right,
Until Mother would say: “There’s a Lodge meeting tonight.”

And some winter nights she said: “What makes you go
Way up there tonight through the sleet and the snow?
You see the same things every month of the year.”
Then Dad would reply: “Yes, I know, my Dear.”

“Forty years I have seen the same things, it is true.
And, though they are old, they always seem so new.
For the hands that I clasp, and the friends that I greet,
Seem a little bit closer each and every time we meet.”

Years later I stood at that very same door,
With good men and true who had entered before.
I knelt at the altar, and there I was taught
That Virtue and Honour can never be bought.

That the spotless white lambskin that all Freemasons revere,
If worthily worn grows more precious each year.
That Service to others brings blessings untold;
That without it man may be poor even when surrounded by gold.

I learned that True Brotherhood flourishes there,
That enmities fade beneath the Compass and Square,
That wealth and position are all thrust aside,
As there on the Level Brethren meet and peacefully abide.

So Honour the lambskin, may it always remain
Forever unblemished, and free from all stain.
And when we are called to the Great Father’s love,
May we all take our place in the Celestial Lodge up above.

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“The Mother Lodge”

by J. Rudyard Kipling, Secretary of The Lodge of Hope and Perseverance, No. 782 (English Constitution), Lahore, Punjab, India (now Pakistan)

THERE was Rundle, Station Master,
      An’ Beazeley of the Rail,
An’ ’Ackman, Commissariat,
      An’ Donkin’ o’ the Jail;
An’ Blake, Conductor-Sargent,
      Our Master twice was ’e,
With ’im that kept the Europe-shop,
      Old Framjee Eduljee.

Outside—“Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”,
      Inside—“Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ’arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
      An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

We’d Bola Nath, Accountant,
      An’ Saul the Aden Jew,
An’ Din Mohammed, draughtsman,
      Of the Survey Office too;
There was Babu Chuckerbutty,
      An’ Amir Singh the Sikh,
An’ Castro from the fittin’-sheds,
      The Roman Catholick!

We ’adn’t good regalia,,
      An’ our Lodge was old an’ bare,
But we knew the Ancient Landmarks,
      An’ we kep’ ’em to a hair;
An’ lookin’ on it backwards,
      It often strikes me thus,
There ain’t such things as infidels,
      Excep’, per’aps, it’s us.

For monthly, after Labour,
      We’d all sit down and smoke
(We dursn’t give no banquits,
      Lest a Brother’s caste were broke),
An’ man on man got talkin’,
      Religion an’ the rest,
An’ every man comparin’
      Of the God ’e knew the best.

So man on man got talkin’,
      An’ not a Brother stirred
Till mornin’ waked the parrots,
      An’ that dam’ brain-fever-bird;
We’d say ’twas ’ighly curious,
      An’ we’d all ride ’ome to bed,
With Mo’ammed, God, an’ Shiva
      Changin’ pickets in our ’ead.

Full oft on Guv’ment service,
      This rovin’ foot ’ath pressed,
An’ bore fraternal greetin’s,
      To the Lodges east an’ west,
Accordin’ as commanded,
      From Kohat to Singapore,
But I wish that I might see them
      In my Mother-Lodge once more!

I wish that I might see them,
      My Brethren black an’ brown,
With the trichies smellin’ pleasant
      An’ the hog-darn passin’ down;
An’ the old khansamah snorin’
      On the bottle-khana floor,
Like a Master in good standing
      With my Mother-Lodge once more!

Outside—“Sergeant! Sir! Salute! Salaam!”,
      Inside—“Brother”, an’ it doesn’t do no ’arm.
We met upon the Level an’ we parted on the Square,
      An’ I was Junior Deacon in my Mother-Lodge out there!

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“My Initiation”

by Jim Jordan, courtesy of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cumberland and Westmorland, England

I heard three knocks at the Temple door,
and then it was opened wide.
I felt the grip of a Mason’s hand,
as I slowly passed inside.

I was lowered on bended knees
as a prayer was said for me,
and then I was helped to pass around
for the Brethren all to see.

All to me was like black of night
as my leader took me round,
and my racing heart I heard more clear
than the organ’s solemn sound.

My faltering footstep here and there
were halted on my way,
as several questions were put to me,
as I struggled not to sway.

Then moving on, I took three steps
and again I had to kneel
whilst my left hand pressed a compass point
for my naked breast to feel.

With my right resting on The Law,
I took my obligation
and I swore I’d be a Mason true
at my initiation.

Some words were said which I could not hear
though wishing that I could see.
Then, after a knock that echoed wide,
my sight was restored to me.

I shall not tell more of what I saw
nor much of what was spoken,
but I saw the sign and heard the word
and felt the Mason’s token.

I’ll tell you this, that I heard a charge
(which later I learned by heart ),
as it told me all that a man should do
as a Mason, from the start.

It matters not if you Pass the Chair
or reach the highest station.
The best event in a Mason’s life
is his Initiation.

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by J. Rudyard Kipling, Secretary of The Lodge of Hope and Perseverance, No. 782 (English Constitution), Lahore, Punjab, India (now Pakistan)

My new-cut ashlar takes the light
      Where crimson-blank the windows flare;
By my own work, before the night,
      Great Overseer I make my prayer.

If there be good in that I wrought,
      Thy hand compelled it, Master, Thine;
Where I have failed to meet Thy thought
      I know, through Thee, the blame is mine.

One instant’s toil to Thee denied
      Stands all Eternity’s offence,
Of that I did with Thee to guide
      To Thee, through Thee, be excellence.

Who, lest all thought of Eden fade,
      Bring’st Eden to the craftsman’s brain,
Godlike to muse o’er his own trade
      And Manlike stand with God again.

The depth and dream of my desire,
      The bitter paths wherein I stray,
Thou knowest Who hast made the Fire,
      Thou knowest Who hast made the Clay!

One stone the more swings to her place
      In that dread Temple of Thy Worth --
It is enough that through Thy grace
      I saw naught common on Thy earth.

Take not that vision from my ken;
      Oh whatsoe’er may spoil or speed,
Help me to need no aid from men
      That I may help such men as need!

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“The Palace”

by J. Rudyard Kipling (1902), Secretary of The Lodge of Hope and Perseverance, No. 782 (English Constitution), Lahore, Punjab, India (now Pakistan)

When I was a King and a Mason -- a Master proven and skilled --
I cleared me ground for a Palace such as a King should build.
I decreed and dug down to my levels. Presently, under the silt,
I came on the wreck of a Palace such as a King had built.

There was no worth in the fashion -- there was no wit in the plan --
Hither and thither, aimless, the ruined footings ran --
Masonry, brute, mishandled, but carven on every stone:
“After me cometh a Builder. Tell him, I too have known.”

Swift to my use in my trenches, where my well-planned ground-works grew,
I tumbled his quoins and his ashlars, and cut and reset them anew.
Lime I milled of his marbles; burned it, slacked it, and spread;
Taking and leaving at pleasure the gifts of the humble dead.

Yet I despised not nor gloried; yet, as we wrenched them apart,
I read in the razed foundations the heart of that builder’s heart.
As he had risen and pleaded, so did I understand
The form of the dream he had followed in the face of the thing he had planned.

When I was a King and a Mason -- in the open noon of my pride,
They sent me a Word from the Darkness. They whispered and called me aside.
They said -- “The end is forbidden.” They said -- “Thy use is fulfilled.”
“Thy Palace shall stand as that other’s -- the spoil of a King who shall build.”

I called my men from my trenches, my quarries, my wharves, and my sheers.
All I had wrought I abandoned to the faith of the faithless years.
Only I cut on the timber -- only I carved on the stone:
“After me cometh a Builder. Tell him, I too have known!”

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“The Men Who Wear Those Mason Rings”

author unknown, courtesy of Paul “Big Dog” Townsend

Those men who help my dad each day,
they wear those mason rings –
a Square and Compass set in gold,
the praise of which I sing.

My dad, he hurt his back you know,
one cold and wintry day.
He slipped and fell upon the ice,
the insurance would not pay.

And since that time, those rings I see
on hands that help us much,
with mowing lawns and hauling trash,
each day my heart they touch.

They even built a house for me
amid our backyard tree,
where all the neighbour kids
would play with laughter full of glee.

My mom, she cried from happiness,
the time the Masons came
to aid our family in distress
without a thought of gain.

And when I’m big, just like my dad,
of this it must be told:
I want to wear a ring like his,
A Square and Compass gold.

Long years have passed since when
my dad was in that plaster cast,
and since I swore that Solemn Oath
which unites us to the last.

But more than that, I’m proud to say
I wear his Mason ring –
the one dad wore for many years,
until his death this Spring.

And one last time his comrades came
to aid my weeping mother.
They praised and bid a fond farewell
to our fallen Brother.

And after which, my son did ask
about their Aprons white,
and of the rings upon their hands,
of gold so shiny bright.

With tearful eyes, I said with pride,
they’re men of spirit pure,
those men who wear those Mason rings –
of that you can be sure.

And before he went to bed that night,
the family he foretold:
Someday, I’ll wear a ring like Dad’s,
a Square and Compass gold.

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“The Master Mason”

by Jack R. Hunt, 1995, courtesy of Harry Klitzner Company, from whom you can order a plaque inscribed with this poem

A Master Mason is raised with three degrees
and each degree requires him on bended knees.
The three great lights help us to see
that our trestle board represents our deity.

We ask that his blessings to us he will send
during lodge openings from beginning to end.
The supreme architect of the universe,
may we always remember to put him first.

Let’s reminisce back over the years,
remembering each degree and associated fears.
There was nothing to fear, we were taught the right way;
how to be a good Mason from day to day.

Entered Apprentice: the first degree.
How to wear my apron was explained to me.
As we were led through the lodge with a helping hand,
we were taught how to kneel; we were taught how to stand.

The Fellow Craft’s Degree provided more light;
we gained additional knowledge, we received more sight.
Emblematic of manhood, taught science and art;
the square of morality and virtue, a very large part.

Master Mason, Third Degree: the one that’s truly sublime.
Symbolically we’ve had many trials, and we’re almost out of time.
With faithfulness added to our trust, we will be ready to die,
to seek our rewards of fidelity from our great Grand Master on high.

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“Ten Master Masons”

author unknown, courtesy of Oriental Lodge No. 33, Chicago, Illinois

Ten Master Masons, happy, doing fine;
One listened to a rumour, then there were nine.

Nine Master Masons, faithful, never late;
One didn’t like the “Master,” then there were eight.

Eight Master Masons, on their way to heaven;
One joined too many clubs, then there were seven.

Seven Master Masons, got dealt some hard licks;
One grew discouraged, then there were six.

Six Master Masons, all very much alive;
One lost his interest, then there were five.

Five Master Masons, wishing there were more;
Had a dispute, then there were four.

Four Master Masons, busy as could be;
One didn’t like the programs, then there were three.

Three Master Masons, was one of them you?
One got too tired, then there were two.

Two Master Masons with so much to be done;
One said “What’s the use?” and then there was one.

One Master Mason, found a brother who was true,
Brought him to the Lodge, then there were two.

Two Master Masons didn’t find work a bore;
Each brought another, then there were four.

Four Master Masons saved their Lodge’s fate;
By showing others kindness, then there were eight.

Eight Master Masons, thought their Lodge was keen;
Talked so much about it, they numbered sixteen.

Sixteen Master Masons, to their obligations true;
Were pleased when their ranks swelled to thirty-two.

So we can’t put our troubles at the Lodge’s door;
It’s our fault if we harm the Lodge we adore.

Don’t fuss about the programs or the Master in the East;
And keep your obligation well by serving the very least.

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“Last Night I Knelt Where Hiram Knelt”

by Pat M. Armstrong, courtesy of Men In Brotherhood Lodge No. 1178, Franklin Park, Illinois

Last night I knelt where Hiram knelt
and took an obligation.
Today, I’m closer to my G-d
and I’m a Master Mason.

Tho’ heretofore, my fellow men
seemed each one like the other;
today, I search each one apart.
I’m looking for my brother.

And as I feel his friendly grip,
it fills my heart with pride.
I know that while I’m on the square,
that he is by my side.

His footsteps on my errand go
if I should such require.
His prayers will lead in my behalf
if I should so desire.

My words are safe within his breast,
as though within my own;
his hand forever at my back
to help me safely home.

Good counsel whispers in my ear
and warns of any danger.
By square and compass, Brother now!
Who once would call me stranger.

I might have lived a moral life
and risen to distinction
without my Brothers helping hand
and fellowship of Masons;

but G-d, who knows how hard it is
to resist life’s temptations,
knows why I knelt where Hiram knelt
and took that obligation

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“The Story of My Degree”

© 2007 by J. Bradley Koehler, PM, Newton Lodge No. 216, Newton, Illinois; courtesy of the author

This is the story of my degree,
all were taken on bended knee.
From one, two, and then three,
darkness to light, now I see.
Ask me, a Mason, I’ll tell you,
about the first degree I took.
Unsure what I was getting into,
how I was nervous and shook.
Every Mason has felt this way,
once blindfolded and in the dark.
Then at the door I’m told to stay,
patiently waiting to embark.
My initiation, about to begin,
my conductor held me tight.
Clamminess described my skin,
square corners to my right.
Silence broke at the gavel’s rap,
and a sweet prayer filled the air.
Then on my hand a gentle tap,
I’m asked to promise and swear.
Then I was brought into the light,
many brethren were there for me.
This was a very special night,
but it was just the first of three.
Ask me, a Mason, I’ll tell you,
about the second degree I took.
Knowing what I was getting into,
a little nervous, but not shook.
Every Mason has felt this way,
twice blindfolded and in the dark.
Then at the door I’m told to stay,
but patiently waiting to embark.
My passing, about to begin,
my conductor held me tight.
A little clammy described my skin,
square corners to my right.
Silence broke at the gavel’s rap,
and a sweet prayer filled the air.
Then on my hand a gentle tap,
I’m asked to promise and swear.
Then I was brought into the light,
many brethren were there for me.
It was another very special night,
this being the second one of three.
Ask me, a Mason, I’ll tell you,
about the third degree I took.
I knew what I was getting into,
not even nervous nor shook.
Every Mason has felt this way,
thrice blindfolded and in the dark.
Then at the door I’m told to stay,
excitedly waiting to embark.
My raising, about to begin,
my conductor held me tight.
Not even damp described my skin,
square corners to my right.
Silence broke at the gavel’s rap,
and a sweet prayer filled the air.
Then on my hand a gentle tap,
I’m asked to promise and swear.
Then I was brought into the light,
many brethren were there for me.
It was the most special night,
the last and final one of three.
Just when I thought I was done,
a Master Mason I’m not yet.
Another journey must begun,
once again I start to sweat.
Into the Temple I had to go,
retracing the steps of others.
Three men there I did not know,
they appeared to be brothers.
The first two gave me a threat,
but meeting them I don’t regret.
The last one seemed to be upset,
meeting him, I will never forget.
Many things I’ve been taught,
a sign, a step, and a token.
Passwords that were sought,
and others never to be spoken.
This is the story of my degree,
all were taken on bended knee.
From one, two, and then three,
darkness to light, now I see.

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“What Came You Here to Do?”

author unknown, courtesy of the American-Canadian Grand Lodge of Germany

And now, my brother,
what came you here to do?
When you joined our mystic circle,
had you a purpose in your heart
to be of service to your fellow man
and perform your allotted part?
Or come you out of curiosity
or motive personal in view?
Tell me, brother, on the square,
what came you here to do?
Have you failed to grasp the meaning
of the symbols of our chart?
Have you learned to subdue your passions
and make improvements in your art?
Do you always, always uphold the trusts
On which we firmly stand
Teaching the Fatherhood of God
And the Brotherhood of man?

Have you been willing to aid the brother
When life surges fierce and wild?
Have you offered cheer and comfort
To the Mason’s widow, wife, and child?
If you have done so, my brother,
You are a Mason good and true,
and can give a correct answer.
What came you here to do?

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“Badge of a Mason”

© 2003 by J. Bradley Koehler, PM, Newton Lodge No. 216, Newton, Illinois; courtesy of the author

True innocence of conduct,
and purity of the heart.
A man prepares himself,
a journey about to start.
The brethren had been told,
the candidate was freeborn.
As an Entered Apprentice,
this was the first time worn.
Revealing tangible evidence,
proudly tied about the waist.
His unmistakable character,
proving to be moral and chaste.
Travelling twice to the altar,
with deity always in thought.
Bib down with the corner up,
a Fellowcraft is thus taught.
Positioned neat and proper,
always tied steadfast and right.
This apron made of lambskin,
unsoiled and brilliantly white.
Raised to the sublime degree,
having repeated furthermore.
The Master Mason squares it,
and dons it this way evermore.
This basic pure white apron,
worn square, level and plumb.
Seen as the badge of a Mason,
for centuries past and to come.

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“The Road of Masonry”

© by Brother Douglas Malloch

Men build a Road of Masonry
Across the hills and dales
Unite the prairie and the sea,
The mountains and the vales
They cross the chasm, bridge the stream
They point to where the turrets gleam,
and many men for many a day
Who seek the heights shall find the way

Men build a Road of Masonry
But not for self they build
With footsteps of humility
The hearts of men are thrilled
his music makes their labours sweet;
The endless tramp of other feet
The thought that men shall travel thus
An easier road because of us.

We build the Road of Masonry
With other men in mind;
We do not build for you and me,
We build for all mankind.
We build a road, remember, men
Build not for Now, but build for When,
And other men who walk the way
Shall find the road we build today.

Who builds the Road of Masonry,
Though small or great his part,
However hard the task may be
May toil with singing heart.
For it is something, after all,
When muscles tire and shadows fall,
To know that other men shall bless
the BUILDER for his faithfulness.

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“I am a Mark Master”

© 2007 by J. Bradley Koehler, PM, Newton Lodge No. 216, Newton, Illinois; courtesy of the author

I skilfully worked the stone,
it was hard, rough, and cold.
Then taken from me and thrown,
only square work I was told.
I felt so useless and ashamed,
the Overseers were on guard.
They sent me whence I came,
in quarries where I laboured hard.
The weeks end came about,
and I went to collect my pay.
"Impostor", the others shout,
and I was abruptly taken away.
The Craftsmen began to protest,
then they all started to roil.
An end was put to the unrest,
and then all returned to toil.
Others would watch to see,
as I continued on my piece.
When their eyes were on me,
my drudgery would increase.
Arrival of inspection day,
hearing the words, true work.
Then listen to hear them say,
after another glance, good work.
Facing the men behind cages,
this time was not a disaster.
Taught to collect my wages,
now, I am a Mark Master.

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“I See You’ve Travelled Some”

author unknown, courtesy of Companion Rance R. Bell, Sr., P.M. of George W. Williams Military Lodge No.130, on the former Rhein Main U.S. Air Force Base, Germany

Wherever you may chance to be – Wherever you may roam,
Far away in foreign lands; Or just at Home Sweet Home;
It always gives you pleasure, it makes your heart strings hum
Just to hear the words of cheer, “I see you’ve travelled some.”

When you get a brother’s greeting, And he takes you by the hand,
It thrills you with a feeling that you cannot understand,
You feel that bond of brotherhood that tie that’s sure to come
When you hear him say in a friendly way, “I see you’ve travelled some.”

And if you are a stranger, In strange lands all alone
If fate has left you stranded – Dead broke and far from home,
It thrills you – makes you numb, When he says with a grip of fellowship,
“I see you’ve travelled some.”

And when your final summons comes, To take that last long trip,
Adorned with Lambskins Apron White and gems of fellowship –
The Tyler at the Golden Gate, With Square and Level and Plumb
Will size up your pin and say, “Walk In, I see you’ve travelled some.”

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“In a Friendly Sort o’ Way”

by James Whitcomb Riley. Appeared in the programme from the Medinah Shriners’ 28 May 1909 Shrine Ceremonial

When a man ain’t got a cent, and he’s feeling kind o’ blue,
An’ the clouds hang dark an’ heavy, an’ won’t let the sunshine through,
It’s a great thing, O my brethren, for a feller just to lay
His hand upon your shoulder in a friendly sort of o’ way.

It makes a man feel curious, it makes the teardrops start,
An’ you sort o’ feel a flutter in the region of the heart;
You can look up and meet his eyes; you don’t know what to say
When his hand is on your shoulder in a friendly sort o’ way.

Oh, the world’s a curious compound, with its honey and its gall,
With its cares and bitter crosses, but a good world, after all.
An; a good G-d must have made it – leastways, that is what I say
When a hand is on my shoulder in a friendly sort o’ way.

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“Freemasonry to Me”

© 2004 by J. Bradley Koehler, PM, Newton Lodge No. 216, Newton, Illinois; courtesy of the author

My life was merely average,
prior to Masonic exposure.
Receiving the right of passage,
I’ve gained a new composure.
The brethren have accepted me,
with fellowship and brotherly love.
A truly sublime gift you see,
from the Supreme Ruler above.
I now see the good in all men,
that I’d overlooked before.
The world seems to be new again,
passing through the tyler’s door.
In the South I prepared the feast,
now in the West I can be found.
Working my way toward the East,
for ‘tis there that I am bound.
In just a short year from now,
the lodge will be in my care.
The Master’s hat upon my brow,
and sitting in the Oriental Chair.
And I’ll do my best to convey,
what Freemasonry means to me.
Labouring harder day to day,
that a better man I might be.

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“Banquet Night”

by J. Rudyard Kipling, Secretary of The Lodge of Hope and Perseverance, No. 782 (English Constitution), Lahore, Punjab, India (now Pakistan)

“Once in so often,” King Solomon said,
Watching his quarrymen drill the stone,
“We will club our garlic and wine and bread
And banquet together beneath my throne.
And all the Brethren shall come to that mess
As Fellow Craftsmen – no more and no less.

“Send a swift shallop to Hiram of Tyre,
Felling and floating our beautiful trees,
Say that the brethren and I desire
Talk with our Brethren who use the seas.
And we shall be happy to meet them at mess
As Fellow Craftsmen – no more and no less.

“Carry this message to Hiram Abif –
Excellent Master of forge and mine:
I and the Brethren would like it if
He and the Brethren will come to dine
(Garments from Bozrah or morning-dress)
As Fellow Craftsmen – no more and no less.

“God gave the Hyssop and Cedar their place –
Also the Bramble, the Fig and the Thorn –
But that is no reason to black a man’s face
Because he is not what he hasn’t been born.
And, as touching the Temple, I hold and Profess
We are Fellow Craftsmen – no more no less.”

So it was ordered and so it was done,
And the hewers of wood and the Masons of Mark
With foc’sle hands of the Sidon run
And Navy Lords from the Royal Ark,
Came and sat down and were merry at mess
As Fellow Craftsmen – no more and no less.

The Quarries are hotter than Hiram’s forge,
No one is safe from the dog-whips’ reach.
It’s mostly snowing up Lebanon gorge,
And it’s always blowing off Joppa beach;
But once in so often, the messenger brings
Solomon’s mandate: “Forget these things!
Brother to Beggars and Fellow to Kings,
Companion of Princes – forget these things!
Fellow Craftsman, forget these things!”

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“By the Work You Did Today”

by Charles L. Mead, 33°, of Boynton Lodge No. 236, Boynton Beach, Florida

Can you say tonight in parting
with the day that’s slipping past,
that you helped a single brother
of the many whom you passed?
Is a single heart rejoicing
over what you did and said?
Does the man whose hopes were fading
now with courage look ahead?
Did you waste the day or lose it?
Was it well or poorly spent?
Did you leave a trail of kindness,
or a scar of discontent?
As you close your eyes in slumber,
do you think G-d will say,
“You have earned one more tomorrow,
by the work you did today.”?

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by Alan Bode, courtesy of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cumberland and Westmorland, England

No doubt you all have surely heard
of recent allegations
about a secret Brotherhood:
that one they call the Masons.

Each and every one of us
in here is on the Square,
and we all know the criticisms
are wrong – unjust – unfair.

And those – the ones who write them –
no lodge have been inside.
They know not of the good we do
in this world, far and wide.

So, Brethren, be you not disturbed
at things said by the crowd.
Remember you’re all Masons.
Take heart; stand firm; be proud.

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by J. Rudyard Kipling, Secretary of The Lodge of Hope and Perseverance, No. 782 (English Constitution), Lahore, Punjab, India (now Pakistan)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And - which is more - you’ll be a Man my son!

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“Old Friends”

by Gerald Massey.  Appeared in the programme from the Medinah Shriners’ 28 May 1909 Shrine Ceremonial

We just shake hands at meeting
    With many that come nigh;
We nod the head in greeting
    To many that go by, —
But welcome through the gateway
    Our few old friends and true;
Then hearts leap up, and straightway
    There’s open house for you,
                                          Old Friends,
    There’s open house for you!

The surface will be sparkling,
    Let but a sunburst shine;
Yet in the depth lies darkling,
    The true life of the wine!
The froth is for the many,
    The wine is for the few;
Unseen, untouched of any,
    We keep the best for you,
                                        Old Friends,
    The very best for you!

The Many cannot know us;
    They only pace the strand,
Where at our worst we show us—
    The waters thick with sand!
But out beyond the leaping
    Dim surge ‘tis clear and blue;
And there, Old Friends, we are keeping
    A waiting calm for you,
                                        Old Friends,
    A resting-place for you.

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“A Vanished Friend”

by Charles Hanson Towne, courtesy of Kerbela Shriners, Knoxville, Kentucky

Around the corner, I have a friend,
In this great city that has no end;
Yet days go by and weeks rush on,
And before I know it a year is gone,
And I never see my old friend’s face;
For life is a swift and terrible race.
He knows I like him just as well
As in days when I rang his bell
And he rang mine.  We were younger then;
And now we are busy, tire men –
Tired with playing a foolish game;
Tired with trying to make a name.
“Tomorrow,” I say, “I will call on Jim,
Just show that I’m thinking of him.”
But tomorrow comes -- and tomorrow goes;
And the distance between us grows and grows.
Around the corner!   Yet miles away . . .
“Here’s a telegram, sir . . . Jim died today!”
And that’s what we get, and deserve in the end –
Around the corner, a vanished friend.

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“Labour to Eternal Rest”

© 2003 by J. Bradley Koehler, PM, Newton Lodge No. 216, Newton, Illinois; courtesy of the author

As his family and friends gather,
forming a mournful congregation.
Rest ye now, O’ Master Mason,
you’ve fulfilled your obligation.
He was known to be a good man,
but a better man he’d become.
Clinging to the symbolic tools,
the square, level, and plumb.
The Masonic rites are given,
apron clad Freemasons on display.
He looks back, smiles, and nods,
while ascending the stairway.
All the brethren left behind,
will remember his good deeds.
As he travels Heaven bound,
they all wish him Godspeed.
His body here, but spirit gone,
the earthly bonds now broken.
Where Saint Peter is the tyler,
and passwords never spoken.
Designs upon the trestle board,
this craftsman is set to hasten.
The Supreme Architect orders,
“Rest ye now, my Master Mason.”

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“A Fathers Love”

by Janet Lynne Phillips, January 8, 1998, courtesy of Kerbela Shriners, Knoxville, Kentucky

A father’s love is gentle, wise and kind.
He helps to ease your fears and to clear your mind.
He chases away the monsters in your bad dreams.
His strength shows you that it’s not as bad as it seems.
He’s a shoulder to cry on when you’re feeling low.
He can give you a hug and a smile that warms your weary soul.
Always giving, freely, of his time.
To put your care and well being first in his life.
To ease your life from worry and strife.
A father’s love is endless.
Growing more each day.
He’s a light in the darkness.
To guide you on your way.
He’s a source of information and advise when something has gone wrong.
He helps you to figure out the puzzle of your life.
Putting the pieces where they belong.
He’s always, lifting you up and encouraging you to try.
With him by your side, you can do anything.
Even soar into the highest sky.
Giving tender, loving care when you are sick and in need.
Waiting on you, hand and foot.
Catering to your every need.
He watches over you through the night, with a vigilance unsurpassed.
And you know, without a doubt, for you, his love will last.
Making personal sacrifices that his family can have the best.
Keeping food on the table and under a roof in which to rest.
Taking care of those he holds most dear.
Being there to laugh with them.
There to wipe away their tears.
There’s nothing like a father’s love.
Not near or far.
You wouldn’t find anything that comes close.
Even if you went to the, most far away star.
His love is like the father’s love.
Watchful, patient and true.
And just like the father, he will never leave you.
Give him honour and respect he deserves, each and every day you live.
He’s a treasure to be cherished and to him we must give.
All of our love and devotion in return.
For in the presence of our hearts, his love will burn.
For no other place on earth will you find peace from all harm.
Nowhere else, but the shelter of a father’s arms.
Make sure you tell him everyday that you love him so.
Because, one day, home to the Father he’ll go.
For God the Father has given him love to share in words and deeds.
And I’m so glad that he has shared that love with me.

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“A Mason’s Wife”

author unknown, courtesy of Provincial Grand Lodge of Cumberland and Westmorland

From active Masons, resolute,
Our wives and families we salute;
We surely know the price to pay,
Who sit alone while we’re away.

No high degrees on you conferred,
In Lodge, your name is seldom heard;
You serve our cause though out of sight,
While sitting at home alone at night.

Masonic papers list our name,
Awards are given, fit to frame;
But yours is absent ... you who strive,
To keep our fortitude alive.

Your part of every helpful deed,
On your encouragement we feed;
Without your blessing, how could we,
Continue acts of charity.

And so this poem, we dedicate,
To every Master Mason’s mate;
And offer our our undying love,
Rewards await in Heaven above.

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“I am the Bible”

author unknown, courtesy of the American-Canadian Grand Lodge of Germany

Just use me I am the Bible,

I am God’s wonderful library.

I am always and above all The Truth.

To the weary Pilgrim, I am the good strong staff,

To the one who sits in gloom, I am a glorious light.

To those who stoop beneath heavy burden, I am sweet rest.

To him who has lost his way, I am a safe guide.

To those who have been hurt by sin, I am healing balm.

To those who are distressed by the storms of life, I am an anchor.

To those who suffer in lonely solitude, I am a cool, soft hand resting on a fevered brow.

Oh, child of man, to best defend me,

just use me.

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“32nd Degree Freemasonry”

© 2006 by J. Bradley Koehler, 32°, Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, Illinois; courtesy of the author

The first three degrees of Freemasonry,
are the fundamental core.
Although another twenty nine are there,
to assimilate and explore.
The Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite,
is where they can be found.
Beautiful theatrical presentations,
that will impress and astound.
Not to be mistaken for higher degrees,
but merely additional.
While on life’s Masonic journey,
they are simply transitional.
Fourteen are from the Lodge,
that being of Perfection.
The ineffable degrees,
to which you’ll have an affection.
Two are from the Council,
of the Princes of Jerusalem.
Referred to the historical degrees,
of Cyrus’ and Darius’ Kingdom.
Two are from the Chapter,
known as the Rose Croix.
The philosophical and doctrinal degrees,
of hope, truth, and joy.
The final eleven degrees,
are those of the Consistory.
Culminating with the thirty second,
rounding out a complete history.
These all should be viewed,
with an open and inquisitive mind.
Then you’ll understand,
the trials and tribulations of mankind.
A Master Mason’s journey,
is not educationally fulfilled.
Lest all thirty two degrees,
are experienced and instilled.
If you’re seeking further enlightenment,
and you’re ready to pursue.
Then the Scottish Rite,
is here and waiting for you.

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“33 Degree Burns”

by Mark Bruback, 2000, from his booklet, Legomena (Latin) – Esoteric Knowledge taught by the spoken word

Read between the lines to find the truth within the story;
for those who seek the truth, know it’s hid in allegory
(answers are easy to obtain, but pure of heart you must remain)

I found what governments hide.
The figure head is dead, the mouthpiece lied.
revealed are the secrets of the kings who were crowned
in Solomon’s temple, I know what the Knights Templar found…
                                                     …the Widow’s Son…
                                        …the smoking gun…
the Secreting Serpent’s tantalizing tangle

                                                                           On all three
                                                                  Points of the Triangle

With insider tips, I’ve learned Masonic grips
And illuminating words; spoke from educated lips
I know what they mean; when they say thirteen!

It’s true these lessons make you free
So that, one can advance to the next degree

a quest for intelligence, so that you may survive;
test the bounds of existence, to know you’re alive
living life to the fullest is what the game’s all about…
three knocks on the door and I’m out.

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“The 23rd Psalm ... Explained”

author unknown, courtesy of Companion Rance R. Bell, Sr. P.M. of George W. Williams Military Lodge No.130, on the former Rhein Main U.S. Air Force Base, Germany<

The Lord is my Shepherd
That’s Relationship!

I shall not want
That’s Supply!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures
That’s Rest!

He leadeth me beside the still waters
That’s Refreshment!

He restoreth my soul
That’s Healing!<

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness
That’s Guidance!

For His name sake
That’s Purpose!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
That’s Testing!

I will fear no evil
That’s Protection!

For Thou art with me
That’s Faithfulness!

hy rod and Thy staff they comfort me
That’s Discipline!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies
That’s Hope!

Thou annointest my head with oil
That’s Consecration!

My cup runneth over
That’s Abundance!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life
That’s Blessing!

And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
That’s Security!

That’s Eternity!

Amen ... Amen ... Amen

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“‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Down at the Lodge”

by Clayton L. Wright, Fairview Lodge No. 339 & Temple Lodge No. 676, (both of the Grand Lodge of North Carolina)

Twas the Night before Christmas, and down at the Lodge
Not a gavel was stirring, and in the hodge-podge

Of aprons and jewels and chairs East and West
You could savour the silence, most gladly divest

All metal and mineral, it mattered not,
Since Christmas was nigh and the coals were still hot

In the hearth of your homestead, all Masons abed,
As visions of trestle boards danced in their head;

When up on the roof there arose such a clatter,
Our Tyler jumped up to see what was the matter!

He picked up his sword and ran fast to the door,
Three knocks shook the panels - he wondered ‘What for?'

He answered the knocking with, raps of his own,
And once the door opened he saw, with a moan

Of delight it was Santa, all jolly and red
Except for one notable feature Instead!

Upon his large finger lie wore what we knew
Was compass and square on a background of blue!

“Why Santa!” he shouted and lowered his blade
“I see you’re a Mason!” the Tyler relayed.

He looked toward the Master’s most dignified chair
And said, voice near trembling, “Most Worshipful there

Is a Gentleman properly clothed at the gate!”
The Master replied, ‘Let’s allow him - but wait!

You tell me a Gentleman, but I don’t see
His Apron beneath that red suit, can it be

Our visitor hasn’t been properly raised?
Must we offer a test that is suitably phrased”

“I do beg your pardon,” ol’ Santa said quick
As he pulled up his coat and displayed not a stick

But a cane with, engraving, two balls did appear
And oh, what an apron, he wore and held dear!

Adorned like the Master, complete with a sign
Of “Lodge Number One, the North Pole” on one line!

“Now let man enter,” the Master declared,
And once in the Lodge room the Brethren all stared,

For Santa was wearing a jewel not seen
For many a century - there in between

The fur of his coat and the splendid red collar
Gleamed two golden reindeer that shone like a dollar!

“It’s Donner and Blitzen, who, I must confess
Are actually images brought from the West

By my Warden, a craftsman like none in the world!”
And with a great laugh from his bag he unfurled

An ear of fine corn, and some oil from the east,
“My friend I have plenty, tonight we will feast

On all that is good! We are Masons, kind sir!”
A murmur went throughout the Lodge, quite a stir,

As presents and promises flew from his sack
This Santa, a Mason, showed he had a knack

For making this Christmas the best you could glean,
And soon even Deacons were laughing, they’d seen

On this very night only happiness reigned!
This jolly Saint Nicholas quickly explained

That only a Mason could be so inclined
To make all kids happy, make all people find

A Christmas so special, yes, Santa was right!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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“History of St. Bernard”

Sung to George Frederick Root’s tune for J. P. Johnson’s 1865 lyrics, The Liberty Bird, the chanters of St. Bernard Commandery No. 35 premiered the song at the 1886 Triennial Conclave in Saint Louis, Missouri. Click here to view a copy of the 4-page song booklet from that event>.

Far back in the dim, distant aisle of the past,
Through the glamour which romance and poetry cast
O’er the deeds of heroes, who fought to restore
The Temple of G-d to the Christians once more,
Is seen a dark form, form whose eloquent tongue
The call to the Crusades incessantly rung.
This herald of Christendom wore no tabard,
Save a rope-knotted gown; it was old St. Bernard.

On a mountain, far up, ’mid perpetual snow,
Where the Frost King holds sway, and the wild tempests blow;
Where the avalanche, down its precipitous path,
Hurls death and destruction, like an angel of wrath;
Where the pilgrim meets death in the gaping crevasse;
And the storms wail its dirge through that lone mountain pass;
Where the paths, but the Storm King, with snow wreaths are barred,
Stands a shelter that’s named for the Monk St. Bernard.

In the broad Prairie State of the new Western World
A body of Templars, its banners unfurled;
It is named for that saint, whose perennial fame,
Like a mantle will fall, on those bearing his name;
And like him, ho taught Templars with valour to fight,
And the monks love to build, on that cold Alpine height,
O’er the faith of our fathers, keep perpetual guard,
And care for the helpless, will our St. Bernard.

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“Song of the Gramps”

The chanters of St. Bernard Commandery No. 35 premiered the song at the 1886 Triennial Conclave in Saint Louis, Missouri. Click here to view a copy of the 4-page song booklet from that event>.

In the armoury the drill, showing woeful lack of skill,

As they try to march in column or in line;

And then to see their wheel, it would really make you feel

That the pivot man was drunk and should resign.

Tramp, tramp, tramp, the lads are marching;

And though the work is hot and hard,

They cheerfully will sweat; and stick to it you may bet

For they're working like the deuce for St. Bernard.

Then there always are some cranks, that are talking in the ranks,

So the orders never can be understood,

Though the guide keeps grunting “Hep,” these smart Alecks lose the step;

And they never keep their distance as they should.

Tramp, tramp, tramp, the lads are marching;

And though the work is hot and hard,

They cheerfully will sweat; and stick to it you may bet

For they're working like the deuce for St. Bernard.

When they try to dress by file, it would cause a corpse to smile

To see ‘em straggle up beyond the line

And then they shuffle back, as they try to toe a crack;

But their front is crooked as a “punkin” vine.

Tramp, tramp, tramp, the lads are marching;

And though the work is hot and hard,

They cheerfully will sweat; and stick to it you may bet

For they're working like the deuce for St. Bernard.

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“St. Bernard’s Farewell”

The chanters of St. Bernard Commandery No. 35 premiered the song at the 1886 Triennial Conclave in Saint Louis, Missouri. Click here to view a copy of the 4-page song booklet from that event>.

Hark, bugles faintly blowing,
Their echoes fainter growing;
Each tender intonation
Foretells our separation;

Farewell, farewell; Sir Knights, farewell.
Farewell, farewell; Sir Knights, farewell.

Sir Knights, thou art exemplars
Of all that’s grand in Templars;
In friendship’s deep devotion,
We chant with fond emotion,

Farewell, farewell; Sir Knights, farewell.

Till life itself shall perish,
We shall most fondly cherish
Within our recollection,
Our mutual affection.

Farewell, farewell; Sir Knights, farewell.

To chivalry and beauty,
We pay our knightly duty;
To these, ere separation,
We pledge this last libation.

Farewell, farewell; Sir Knights, farewell.

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“The Return of St. Bernard Commandery”

Published in Templar Correspondence, 1901.

Blow, Warder, blow thy sounding horn,

And thy banner wave on high,

For the Drill Corps has been to Kentucky,

And has won a victory.

Loud the Warder blew his horn,

And his banner waved on high.

Have the feast begun,

And the bells be rung,

And then eat merrily.

The Warder looked from the temple high,

As far as he could see;

I see the Knights and by their cross

They come from Kentucky.

Then loud the Warder blew his horn,

And called till he was hoarse,

Have the feast begun,

And the bells be rung,

And then eat merrily.

I see St. Bernard Knights, and on their shields

They bear a bright red cross.

Then down the Warder from the temple came,

St. Bernard knights to meet;

And when Knight Roundy he did spy

Brought lovingly did him greet.

You're welcome here, thrice welcome, knights!

For your fame's well-known to all.

Have the feast begun,

And the bells be rung,

And then eat merrily.

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“Mr. Shrine”

by Noble Jim Glass, May 1988, courtesy of Kerbela Shriners, Knoxville, Kentucky

She stood against the window pane, and watched the children play,
How they ran and chased each other, as they do most every day.
Her heart would yearn to be with them, but her legs would not permit,
For they were warped and twisted, and always pained a bit.

But yet her heart was generous, for she quietly cheered them on,
And she would stand and watch them play until the last was gone.
But birth defects were her life’s woes, no attempt to correct them was made.
Her parents were out of money, and the doctor must be paid.

But daily she trudged on her crutches, rarely did she get out,
But begged to go to the Christmas Parade, to see if Santa was about.
Her family was willing to take her, to give her a little treat.
It was a thrill for a little girl, when she stood there on the street.

Then here they came, the big brass band, the clowns and animals too.
The motorcycles and funny cars, it thrilled her through and through.
Her hands were gripping her crutches, but the cheer was in her face.
You could tell the cold was unnoticed, as she stood there in her place.

Then here they came with fezzes bright, so proud as they passed by,
As they tossed the candy and bubble gum, they caught the watchers eye.

Then one red Fez got out of line, and walked over to the side
To greet the girl with crutches, his sympathy he could not hide.
He stooped to ask the little girl’s name, “It’s Christy, ‘Mr. Shrine’.”
She knew the Fez and who they were, an angel was his find.

He never forgot the meeting that day, the smile that Christy showed.
How she stood there on those crutches, and how her face had glowed.
Days had passed, but he never forgot, those legs didn’t match that smile.
He had to help her if he could, if it took him a little while.

And then one day the answer came, the number and name of the street
Where again he would see Miss Christy, a second time they would meet.

Now Christy stood by the window sill, as he came up the slight incline.
She yelled for mother to come and see, it was her “Mr. Shrine”.
He told the family about the work in the hospitals far and near,
And how he’d gotten an interview, and he wanted the family to hear.

The plans were made for Christy, to the hospital she would go.
There might be several trips to make before they would really know.
Once in the van, she asked “Mr. Shrine” – you could see him hide a grin.
“Do we have to buy a paper before they let me in?”
“No, my dear, that’s over now.  Next year we will sell again.
Right now, let’s let them fix your legs.  They’ve already said, ‘Come in.’”

There were many trips before the end, a lot of pain for Christy too,
But now she stands tall without a crutch, her legs as good as new.
As she left the final time, and told the doctors good-bye,
she stood there with that same sweet smile, as he wiped his misty eye.

“You’re just so good,” she told him, “and doctor I love you much.
You’re really like an angel; I feel it with every touch.”
Then she kissed him on the cheek, and walked out to the van.
“You won’t have to help me ‘Mr. Shrine’; this time, I know I can.”

This would be her final ride with her buddy, “Mr. Shrine”,
and she was bright and glowing, just like the warm sunshine.
For on this final ride she took, she was twelve years old by now,
And knew her cure was heaven sent, for soon she would know how.

She thanked “Mr. Shrine” so sweetly, and asked if the bill was paid.
“Oh, no, my dear, there is no bill, for one was never made.
The papers we sold have paid it all, from the hearts of all mankind,
And the money is kept ‘till we need it, by the Treasurer of the Shrine.
It’s not the Shrine that pays the bills; it’s everyone who gives,
Your family and friends and neighbourhood, and every good heart that lives.”

The trip too soon had ended, and Christy began to cry.
She knew “Mr. Shrine” would soon be gone; she didn’t want to say “Good-bye,”
but he told her now that she was cured, she could help if she wanted to try.
“Tell everyone to buy a paper,” and he waved to her good-bye.

Some years had passed, and she was grown, but thanked God everyday
For “Mr. Shrine” and the Paper Sale, and for making her well this way.
She had started to church one Sunday morn, she saw Shriners everywhere.
They were out selling papers, with that same tender, loving care.
She readied her money, a paper to buy, as she drove her car in line,
and as it came her time to pay, there stood her “Mr. Shrine”.

You could see that smile upon his face, and the tear in Christy’s eye,
For he had made life whole again, from a parade when he passed by.
Oh, “Mr. Shrine, I love you so,” as she kissed his aged face.
No matter how old she grew to be, in her heart he had a place.
Then there in church one thought she had, she knew God wouldn’t mind.
“Dear God, for now and always, please bless my ‘Mr. Shrine’.”

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“A Supplication for Crippled Children”

by Warren Grimes. Printed in J. Ed. Hart, “Unto the Least of These” A Story of the Shriners’ Hospitals for Crippled Children (Greenville, South Carolina: Board of Governors of the Shriners’ Hospital for Crippled Children, 1948), 6.

Most Gracious G-d and Lord of all the Lords,
Pity, we pray, our many tender wards;
Bless Thou our work, on which we set Thy Name,
To right the crippled feet, the broken frame,
The fragile bodies and the withered hands
Of little ones in this and other lands;
That they may grow the better to sustain
Thy Kingdom and Thine everlasting reign.

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“A Shrine of Miracles”

by Noble Robert W. Pinkerton (Zenobia Shriners, Northwest Ohio), (1925-1994), courtesy of Masonic Poets Society.

I’d like to tell a story
It’s a happy episode
of a miracle that happened
to a family down the road.

They lived a block or two away.
It doesn’t matter where.
A man, his wife, and three young kids
with one in a wheelchair.

They’d go for walks and wave to us.
We’d smile and say “Hello.”
Why one was in a wheelchair,
for years, we did not know.

Another neighbour said the boy
was born with bones deformed.
They took him to a clinic where
some tests had been performed.

The doctors who examined him
said, “There are indications,
your boy may some day walk if he
has certain operations.”

Said one who diagnosed him
when the boy was only four,
“It may cost ninety thousand,
if we help him...maybe more.”

When they were told about the cost,
they knew it couldn’t be.
Those people struggled just to feed
and clothe their family.

“Why, it would take a miracle,”
said his father, “Who could spend
the money for such treatments,
that would cause his bones to mend?”

“Our hopes were all for nothing,”
cried his mother in despair,
“It looks like he will spend his life
inside that old wheelchair.”

Now a man his father worked with
was a member of the Shrine.
He said, “We’d like to help him,
And it won’t cost you a dime.”

“The hospitals,” he told him,
“that the Shriners operate,
are well equipped and proven;
So, why don’t we set a date?”

Within a month their child
was examined and accepted,
then sent for consultation
where the Shriners were connected.

With surgery and treatments
and the many years of care,
the best of specialists worked with
the famous doctors there.

His every cost was paid for;
his meals and transportation,
as well as for his parents,
there were free accommodations.

Today, that boy is seventeen.
Ten years of therapy
and at the cost of Shriners,
he now walks like you and me.

He plays with kids outside our door.
He runs and rides his bike.
I’m awed as I remember what
before, his life was like.

And he’s just one of thousands
of that burned or crippled hoard
of children who need treatments
their parents can’t afford.

The Shriners gave a new life
to this crippled boy, but then,
I know it was a miracle
from G-d through hands of men.

I’ve always known that Shriners
seemed to have a lot of fun,
but I had never realized
the noble work they’ve done.

And since I was a witness
to this miracle divine,
I pray each night for blessings
on this boy … and on the Shrine.

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author unknown, courtesy of Zenobia Temple, Daughters of the Nile, Berwyn, Illinois, from whom you can order a copy and a lovely, accompanying pin, to support Shriners Hospitals for Children

If we can make life brighter for one lonely crippled child,
If somehow these silver coins can render service mild;
If we can make “one step” a little closer to the child upon the bed,
Then our prayers have all been answered, no praises need be said.

If one child wouldn’t be as lonely as night befalls the air,
Because he knows that in the world that someone really cares;
If we can make life’s heavy burdens just a little lighter,
And the long hours of the day seem just a little brighter;

If just one step along life’s way we’d help a child to bear,
Or by giving of our time and love, show him that we care.
If just one tear be tuned away and a smile take its place,
Would be reward enough to see sunshine upon that face.

If just one leg we would help to mend and of a crutch be free,
If just one child could run again and no more crippled be;
Then we’ve found G-d’s meaning of the word called ‘Charity’,
For when we give ourselves away, we’ve found life’s mystery.

If we shall pass this way but once, let our message read,
‘They did not neglect the chance, to help a child in need.’

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“Banana Cart”

by James V. Ferris, Ph.D., alumnus of Shriners Hospitals for Children Chicago Unit; from his book, The Hospital Poems, winner of the 2004 MSR Poetry Book Award international competition

Not like a coffin, no – a long flat wooden box,
no pads, no top, to transport us round the ward, not
to the great beyond that we never talk about.
Adjustable backrest, wheelchair wheels, push yourself
around, wheelchair for those who do not fit
into wheelchairs, wheelie machine – my balance is
exquisite, if no nurses are watching
I can do laps around the ward, front wheels high
in the air, no hip spica can keep me down.

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by James V. Ferris, Ph.D., alumnus of Shriners Hospitals for Children Chicago Unit; from his book, The Hospital Poems, winner of the 2004 MSR Poetry Book Award international competition

Across Oak Park Avenue
is a city park, lush
and busy, where men play softball all

evening, too far away
to watch, their dim voices
drifting across the green. Their cars line

the streets as far
as I can see. Sammy and I,
Robert and I, Hoffmann and I call out

the makes and models
as the cars pass.  Dodge Dart.
Chevy Nova.  We are seldom wrong – Corvair,

Pontiac GTO – we who drive
wheelchairs and banana carts –
Mustang, VW, Rambler American – who have not yet

rounded second –
‘57 Chevy!  My dad had one of those –
who watch out windows a world so soft – T-bird –

so fair – Corvette –
so normal – Ford Fairlane –
a world going on, going by, going home.

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“Tiny Tires”

by Noble Pete Papadogianis, and dedicated to his uncle Noble George Cepek, both of Medinah ShrinersWest Suburban Shrine Club

When I was a child of about three or four
I saw my first parade. Wow; what a bore!
That was until, by golly, there he appeared:
Not another fire truck, not an old police car, but a goofy guy in a fez and a beard.

“Hey Mom, what is that guy doing?” I did yell.
“That is your Uncle George, a Shriner ringing the bell.”
How cool was it for me? I knew of the Shrine but not what they did.
Here was The Red Fez Limited, fully festooned with a gorilla that hid.

“Look out!” we yelled, as the gorilla escaped from the cage car
And he was chased by a man with a shiny gold scimitar.
Around and around they would chase each other,
Then the gorilla went back to his cage assisted by a noble brother.

“Hey Mom, what is a Shriner and why do they parade?”
“They are men of character who enjoy to masquerade.
Their cause is children, children in need;
Born with deformities that make mothers plead.”

Those men in the funny red hats are not just crazy old men,
But are instead heroes to some much smaller than them.
Under every fez there is a man, a noble, a brother, a hero
Who finds it his mission in life to be kind to the kids, starting at zero.

No one will ever run up and give thanks for a job well done to a stranger
Unless the stranger champions the cause of saving children from danger.
We wear our fezzes and drive little old cars
To help the children thrive and live life without bars.

Our hearts are large; our go-karts are small.
We are entrusted to help children. “No man ever stood so tall...”
Those tiny tires keep rolling through many a parade.
We are the men riding on, in a noble, high brigade.

When you see that man in the fez, riding along, waving to the crowd
Remember he is there to raise awareness of our plight; to be nothing more than proud.
He is making a difference; to help a child survive, nothing can compare.
Parents need not lose hope. Do not fret. Shriners are on call. We will always be there.

Big, loud, and proud is what being a Shriner is all about.
Helping burned and crippled children is the goal we tout.
Help us by throwing us a cheer. Give us a smile.
Know why we ride those tiny tires and make this all worthwhile.

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“The Badge”

by Noble Edgar A. Guest, courtesy of Mohammed Shriners, Peoria, Illinois

By the scimitar and crescent you wear upon your coat,
You proclaim that you’re a Shriner.  It’s a sign for man to note.
It’s a symbol that your fellows have abiding faith in you.
They believe that you are worthy and they trust in all you do.
But I wonder, fellow Nobles, as I meet you here and there,
if you’ve really caught the meaning of that little badge you wear.

Are you mindful of its splendour?  Are you watchful of its fame?
Are you careful as you travel, not bring it into shame?
You proclaim that you’re a Shriner; every passer-by can see
That you’ve pledged to do the right thing wheresoever you may be.
But, world-wide, your brothers suffer loss and injury from you
if you do a wrong act which a Shriner wouldn’t do.

By the token you are wearing, you’re expected to be fine.
We have taught the world it’s something to be chosen by the Shrine,
and the man who wears its emblem has his fellows’ guarantee
that a gentleman of honour he is known and pledged to be.
And if he shall fail that standard by some thoughtless word or whim.
All Shriners, wide-world over, shall be put to shame by him.

By the scimitar and crescent which so proudly you display,
you are bound to live and travel in a bigger, better way.
You must dignify the emblem, so that none whom you may meet,
be he friend or foe, may whisper that the Shrine is but a cheat.
You must play the man at all times, you must keep your conduct fair
and be worthy of the crescent and scimitar you wear.

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“Noble’s Pride”

by Noble Ben R. Steen, 1995, courtesy of Vital Resource Productions, Inc., from whom you can order a presentable copy of this poem

When I look around
at my life in the shrine,
many things I cherish
stand out in my mind.

Hospitals for the children
who can’t run and play,
bring hope to the families,
in so many ways.

A crippled or burned child
gets first-rate care,
and there’s never a charge
for any child there.

And I’m proud of our circus,
that’s part of the shrine.
It brings out the child
in all of our minds.

I’ll stand with my brothers,
and salute our flag,
be it brand new,
or tattered and sagged.

‘Cause it’s heavily entwined,
in our lodge of blue
it stands for our freedom
and the religion we choose.

We’re from many backgrounds
and different lifestyles,
but we never stand taller
than when we stoop to help a child.

Yes, I’m proud to be a Shriner,
and I love the parades,
‘cause children’s laughter,
is what I get paid.

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“The Shriner”

by Noble Jack R. Hunt, 1995, courtesy of Harry Klitzner Company, from whom you can order a plaque inscribed with this poem

There are children today in the USA
who are crippled or burned, and in a bad way.
To mend their bodies and be made whole,
“Go see a Shriner,” their families are told.

“Where are these children?” the Shriner will ask.
“We know that our doctors are up to the task.”
So, who is this Shriner people keep talking about?
Why he’s the guy with the fez, selling stuff when he’s out.

He’ll sell you a ticket and that’s not a sin;
a Keystone Kop patch or a hillbilly pin.
He’ll sell newspapers, candy, artificial flowers, too.
G-d bless our supporters, what would we do without you?

And on parade in any given town,
he’ll entertain our children and act like a clown.
You’ll see our nobles running around with a yelp,
dressed like cowboys and Indians, thank you, Lord, for letting us help.

And thank You, G-d, for children healthy and strong.
We ask that you help us try harder for the crippled/burned child
as the parade route gets long.
The Shriner does his duty, and in his heart there’s love;
but he must have help from the giver and guidance from G-d above.

Shriners Hospitals mend our children, and this is come rain or shine.
Just look what has been accomplished with love, community help
and a great deal of our off time.

So the next time you see a Shriner out there, selling his wares,
please hand him a buck and give him a smile.
This shows that everyone cares.

Because the fight is not over and we’re aware that we still cannot stop,
we ask that you look for the guy in the fez -
you know, the one with the tassel on top.

When the Shriner’s time is over and he stands at heaven’s door,
he’ll probably sell Saint Peter a candy bar,
because he just happens to have one more.

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“The Recorder’s Dream”

author unknown, courtesy of Stephen R. Greenburg, KYCH, 33°, editor of the Illinois York Rite Newsletter (in which this appeared as “The Secretary’s Dream”)

I fell asleep the other night
and, while I had my snooze,
I dreamed that each noble stepped up
and promptly paid his dues;
and when I found it was but a dream,
I nearly threw a fit.
Now, it’s up to you to make it true.
Please remit!

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“Oh, Luck to the Duck”

author unknown, courtesy of Rance R. Bell, Sr. 33°, PM, Noble of Aswan Temple No. 115, A.E.A.O.N.M.S., in Frankfurt, Germany

Oh, luck to the duck, who swam the lake and didn’t wet a feather;
and f*ck the noble who sh*t in the street and showed his *ss to the weather.
Oh, luck to the duck, who flew over the lake,
and landed in the temple steeple, he stretched his neck and sh*t a peck
and said, “To hell with you Noble people.”
Oh, luck to the duck, who danced in the sand,
and slapped old Clyde on the *ss
He ate up the black rock,
he short circuited the hot seat,
and he sh*t in the potentate’s hand!
Now that’s a bad duck!

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“Past Potentate”

author unknown, courtesy of Cabiri International Past Potentates’ Association

Once I was the Great I Am,
to whom all lesser lights salaam;
respected, honoured and obeyed,
an impressive sight when on parade.
My word was law; none dare gainsay.
My slightest wish; supreme my sway.
I was a man of high estate:
the Illustrious Potentate.

Time marches on, another day.
Another Pote holds magic sway.
There was a time; the Noble mob
could see no future in the job.
But now the Cabiri, tried and true
Past Potentates all, not raw nor new;
united for service to temple and Shrine,
that the lights of Mecca may ever shine.

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“I’m in Love With a Mystic Shriner”

by Henry B. Murtagh and Wootson Davis, the official 1920 Shrine Song, printed in Lisa Eisner, Shriners (Los Angeles: Greybull Press, 2004)

I’m in love with a mystic shriner,
       no one else will do for me.
He just fills me with bliss when he gives me a kiss
       with an air of mystery.
There’s something mystic in the things he does.
       But I’ll solve it, wait and see.
Some night I’m going to sure surprise him,
       I’ve discovered a way to hypnotize him.
After that there will be no secrets
       between my mystic Shriner and me.

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“A Shriner’s Wife”

by Janet Lynne Phillips, 1 March 1998, courtesy of Kerbela Shriners, Knoxville, Kentucky

A Shriner’s wife is wonderful and true;
a rare treasure to find.
She is gentle, loving and kind.
Giving to others;
never wanting anything in return.
Sharing her wisdom with others;
helping them to learn to live each day.
Walking by the Father’s side,
in His sheltering arms
From trouble, you can hide.
She always has an encouraging word
to pick you up when you’re down.
Then, she’ll flash you an outstanding smile
that will turn your gloomy day around.
She laughs with you when you’re happy.
She cries with you when you’re sad.
She’s there as an anchor of strength
when everything seems to have gone bad.
She’s a true friend.
She’ll stand by your side;
and to have her as a friend,
makes your heart swell with pride.
She’s a rare jewel, worth of praise.
In gratitude, her name should be raised.
She is there for her Shriner,
to support him in all he does;
but, most of all, she gives him her greatest gift.
She gives him love.
So, if you are friends with a Shriner’s wife,
consider yourself blessed.
Because you’ll never find a friend any better,
not in the East or West.
She’s a wonderful woman, loyal and true;
and, I’m glad that I’ve found that friend in you.

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“My Masonic Dues Card”

author unknown, courtesy of Paul “Big Dog” Townsend

I hold in my hand a little scrap of paper 2½ × 3½ inches in size.  It is of no intrinsic worth; not a bond, not a check or receipt for valuables, yet it is my most priceless possession. It is my membership in a Masonic lodge.

It tells me that I have entered into a spiritual kinship with my fellow Masons to practice charity in word and deed; to forgive and forget the faults of my brethren; to hush the tongues of scandal and innuendo; to care for the crippled, the hungry, and the sick, and to be fair and just to all mankind.

It tells me that no matter where I may travel in the world, I am welcome to visit a place where good fellowship prevails among brothers and friends.

It tells me that my loved ones, my home, and my household are under the protection of every member of this great fraternity, who have sworn to protect and defend mine, as I have sworn to protect and defend theirs.

It tells me that should I ever be overtaken by adversity or misfortune through no fault of my own, the hands of every Mason on the face of the earth will be stretched forth to assist me in my necessities.

And finally it tells me that when my final exit from the stage of life has been made, there will be gathered around my lifeless body friends and brothers who will recall to mind my virtues, though they be but few, and will forget my faults, though they may be many.

It tells me that and a great deal more, this little card, and makes me proud, yet humble, that I can possess this passport into a society of friends and brothers that are numbered in the millions.

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