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The Officers of a Lodge


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(This paper was written by me more than twenty years ago and has been presented within nine different Masonic jurisdictions. It details the origins of the duties and of the very names of a South Australian Lodge's Officers.)

When a prospective Candidate applies to join Freemasonry, the first Masons with whom he is familiar are his Proposer and Seconder. That is not to say that he would not know other Masons but, generally, his Proposer and Seconder would be closest to him, either as relatives or friends. Shortly thereafter, he would be contacted by the Secretary of the particular Lodge into which he would like to be Initiated. He may also receive a visit from the Worshipful Master of the Lodge, often accompanied by a Past Master, so that he may be further assessed as to his suitability. The day of his Initiation approaches and the Candidate, accompanied by his Proposer and Seconder arrive at the Lodge, where the Treasurer quickly makes himself known and relieves him of certain monies to cover his fees, etc. The Lodge opens, visitors are admitted and the Candidate is left to the tender mercies of the Tyler, who instructs and prepares the Candidate for the ceremony of Initiation. Blindfolded, the Candidate is admitted into the Lodge by the Inner Guard, who places him in the care of the Deacons, who in turn present him to the Wardens and the Worshipful Master. By this means, the newly-Initiated member has come into contact with the Officers of the Lodge. When the Entered Apprentice next attends his Lodge, he learns, during the opening ceremony, the duties of each of the progressive Officers. More of those duties are come to light during the Investiture of Officers at an Installation ceremony as well as recognition of the various Jewels worn by those Officers. However, little of the origins of the Offices, or the distinguishing Jewels, are ever mentioned.

There are two "classes" of Office in a Masonic Lodge; progressive and administrative, or advisory. The Offices deemed to be progressive, from most junior to senior are: Tyler, Inner Guard, Junior Deacon, Senior Deacon, Junior Warden, Senior Warden and finally, Worshipful Master. The administrative Offices, in order of seniority are: Chaplain, Treasurer, Secretary, Director of Ceremonies, Almoner, Organist and Steward. All of these Offices are filled by Brethren elected to them by their peers. The Office of Immediate Past Master, which could be called progressive by some, regressive by others, but generally as a haven of relief (he hopes) for the incumbent, is the only Office held in a Lodge that belongs to that Brother by right. Each Officer of a Lodge wears a collar, to which is attached a Jewel peculiar to that Office. He is stationed at a particular point within the precincts of the Lodge Room, the sole exception being the Tyler. These stations have not been picked at random, but have been so placed for symbolic reasons.

"So king Solomon was king over all Israel. And these were the princes which he had: Azariah the son of Zadoc the priest; Elihoreph and Ahiah, the sons of Shisha, scribes; Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud, the recorder. And Benaiah the son of Jehioada was over the host: and Zadoc and Abiathar were the priests; and Zabud the son of Nathan was the principal officer, and the king's friend: and Ahishar was over the household: and Adoniram the son of Abda was over the tribute." Thus it is written in the in the First Book of Kings, C.4. v.1-7. It is from this passage of Scripture that, according to some Masonic traditionalists of the late 19th century, some of the Officers of a Lodge derive their origin.

The Worshipful Master
The Worshipful Master of a Lodge represents Solomon, king of Israel and the rising sun. He is seated in the East. Reason for this may be found in the Lecture on the First Tracing Board, from which we are taught that "…learning originated in the East" and it is the duty of the Worshipful Master to "…employ and instruct the Brethren in Freemasonry." The Master wears, as a distinguishing Jewel, the square. The square, as worn by the Worshipful Masters of this jurisdiction, is one having legs of equal length. It should not bear any marks or embellishment as it is supposedly the trying square of a stone-mason and not an instrument fro measuring length. While the latter statement should be adhered to, the former is incorrect. The legs of the square should be of the ratio of 3:4, with the longer side hanging straight down. Squares of this sort can be seen worn in Lodges under the Irish Constitution. This arrangement is sometimes called a "gallows" square, but to anyone versed in Freemasonry, or Geometry, it will quickly be realised that these dimensions form the 3-4-5 right-angled triangle, the secret of which, according to some Masonic writers, was that lost upon the death of Hiram Abif. This secret was known by the Ancient Egyptians and many scholars believe that this secret was communicated to the Jews by Joseph, after his triumphant return to the land of his father.

The origin of our square with equal legs dates from the time of the formation of the Grand Lodges of England and Scotland and the adoption of the Masons' Company of London's Arms as part of their own. The blazon of the Arms of the Grand Lodge of Scotland is as follows: "Azure, a saltire argent, impaling gules, on a chevron argent, compasses displayed or, three towers or". On the Arms of the United Grand Lodge of England, the device shown in "sinister" (or right as we view it) on the Scottish Arms, is in "dexter" on the English Arms. The "sinister" impalement of the English Arms is quartered to show a man, an ox, a lion and an eagle. The combination of the chevron and compasses was taken as being a square and compasses. However, the heraldic "ordinary", the chevron, which has "legs" of equal length, can never form an angle of ninety degrees, but the symmetrical properties of the chevron were adopted. Symbolically, the square is equated with morality, truthfulness and honesty. A full description of the Masonic symbolism of the square is found in the Lecture of the Second Degree Working Tools.

The Senior Warden
The Senior Warden represents Hiram, King of Tyre and the setting sun. He is seated in the West, for here it was that the teaching from the East bore fruition. The Senior Warden is the first Officer to be obligated and invested by the Worshipful Master and is the Second Officer of the Lodge. The Jewel connected with his Office is the level, which represents fraternal equality and its Masonic symbolism is likewise found in the Second Degree.

The Junior Warden
The third member of the Principal Officers of the Lodge is the Junior Warden. His place is in the South and he represents Hiram, the Widow's Son, or Hiram Abif. He also represents the sun at its meridian, or highest altitude. The Jewel worn by this Officer is the Plumb Rule, representing uprightness and integrity, and like the previous two, its Masonic symbolism is fully explained as a Second Degree Working Tool.

Symbolic Positioning of the Principal Officers
It must be remembered that Lodges in Australia, or for that matter, the southern hemisphere, are based on those of the northern hemisphere. The sun, in the northern half of the world, travels across the southern sky and thus shade is found in the north. In order, therefore, to never cast a shadow on the Light of Freemasonry and knowledge, the Junior Warden is placed in the South. Strictly speaking, for this same theme to be carried through, in the southern hemisphere the Junior Warden should be placed in the North.

The Offices of Master and Warden, being the Principal Offices of the Lodge, some other mark was needed to show the superiority of their respective positions. For this reason it is usual to find in most Lodges that the chairs of these Officers are raised from above the floor. Thus, the Junior Warden's chair is raised by one step; that of the Senior Warden, two; and that of the Worshipful Master is raised by three steps. In some jurisdictions the chair of the Worshipful Master is raised by an additional step, to indicate his authority over visiting Masters and Past Masters, who are also seated in the East. Again, during the Investiture of Officers at the Installation ceremony in other Constitutions, whilst all other Officers are invested on the floor of the Lodge, the Junior Warden is invested on the first step in the East and the Senior Warden, on the second. These three steps also have a symbolical reference. They, in fact, refer to the three principal staves of Jacob's Ladder. as portrayed in the Lecture of the First Tracing Board, namely; Faith, Hope and Charity: Faith in the Lodge's choice of Junior Warden, that he will faithfully carry out the duties annexed to his appointment; the Hope of the Senior Warden that, by his diligent service, he will advance to the Chair of Solomon and maintain an unbroken line of succession; and that the Master will embody the distinguishing characteristic of our Order, by dispensing Charity to the needy and Charity of heart to his Brethren.

Pre-Speculative Government
Over 400 years ago, during the transition of Lodges from Operative to Speculative, the government of the Lodge was arranged in a far different manner. Among the oldest records remaining, evidence is found that, in 1558, a Warden had charge of the Edinburgh Lodge No.1, but in 1559, a Deacon presided, with a Warden as Treasurer. In the closing years of the 17th century, the chief officers were those of Deacon, Warden and Box-master, or Treasurer. The Warden was the medium of communication with the Warden-General - the forerunner of the Grand Master. Indeed, the Warden-General later changed his title to "Chief Master of Masons".

Derivation of the word "Warden"
The name Warden is now given to the two chief Officers, whose duty it is to assist the Worshipful Master in the government of the Lodge. The word "warden" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word, "weard", meaning "watchman". "Guard" and "guardian" also stem from this Anglo-Saxon word. Thus, the word "warden" aptly describes the duties of that office, for the Senior Warden is directed to guard the privileges of the Brethren and to see that each "has his due". The Junior Warden's special duty is to prove visitors and to prevent unqualified people gaining admission to our ceremonies.

The Officers of the North
Seated in the North of the Lodge are two of the most important Officers of the Lodge. They are the Treasurer and the Secretary. There would not be a single organisation in the world that could function efficiently and well without a good Treasurer and Secretary. As most Brethren should know, without them the Lodge would, most likely, cease to function.

The Treasurer
The Treasurer is distinguished by the Jewel of his Office, which is a key, or a pair of keys "in saltire", or crossed. His represents Adoniram, the son of Abda, who was "over the tribute" or, in more modern parlance, the tax-collector. In the old instructions of Freemasonry, the key was an important symbol. In the ceremonies of the First Degree in the 18th century, allusion is made to a key, by whose help the secrets of Freemasonry are to be obtained, which key "…is said to hang and not to lie, because it is always to hang in a Brother's defence and not to lie in his prejudice". It was said too, to hang "…by the thread of life at the entrance," and was closely connected with the heart, because the tongue "…ought to utter nothing but what the heart dictates."

Among the ancients, the key was a symbol of power; and thus, among the Greeks, the title of key-bearer was bestowed upon one holding high office; and with the Romans, the keys were given to the bride on the day of marriage, as a token that the authority of the house was bestowed on her. Among the Hebrews, the key was used in the same sense and was the mark of office, either sacred, or civil. Thus in Isaiah, C.22 v.22 it is said, "The key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulders; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open." It is in reference to this interpretation of the symbol, and not that of secrecy, that the key is the Jewel of the Treasurer, because he has the purse, the source of power, under his command.

The Secretary
The Secretary of the Lodge represents Jehoshaphat, the son of Ahilud, the recorder. The distinguishing Jewel of this office is a pair of pens "in saltire". As the Minutes, or records, of the transactions of the Lodge should be indelible, pens and not pencils are used. One pen is to record the Minutes of the Lodge meeting, the other symbolises correspondence to members and their families in cases of sorrow, or bereavement. The quill of each pen symbolises the soft feather content of the afore-mentioned letters, the sharp point symbolises the firm approach which may be necessary to remind a brother of his Obligations. The duties of the Secretary are many and varied. There is more to the position of Secretary than just reading and writing the Minutes and attending to all correspondence. Perusals of a Lodge’s By-laws and of the Order’s Regulations give more detail as to what is required.

The "North of the Secret Tradition"
Although in some jurisdictions these Officers may be seated in the East, below the Worshipful Master, in a manner similar to that of a Court of Law, the more common practice is that they are placed in the North. Their particular placement in the Lodge Room is not merely one of convenience but, as will be shown directly, is one of deep symbolical import. Nor is it a matter of disrespect that these Officers do not have to rise from their seats during the entrance of the Master, or visiting Masters, or during the opening, or closing of the Lodge. They are accorded this "privilege" in order that they may conduct their administrative duties whilst the Lodge holds its meeting, never forgetting that they are often called upon to take their part in the ceremonies performed.

In the Secret Tradition, the North is the place of the "Great Light" (of knowledge); and it is from this symbolic direction that the Great Teachers, or "Magi", descend upon the Earth with their message of Mercy to their people. The "Great Light" is the "Glory" referred to in Exodus, C.33 v.18, when Moses, on Mount Sinai said, "I beseech Thee, Show me Thy Glory." The North Tradition is mentioned by Ezekiel: "Then brought He me by way of the North Gate before the house: and I looked, and, behold, the Glory of the Lord filled the House of the Lord." As none may truly look upon the face of God, so it is said that the North is veiled, or hidden, or in darkness. The Treasurer and Secretary may thus be regarded as the Guardians of the North Gate and that the true significance of the Secretary, is that he is the Recorder of the thoughts, words and deeds of all who aspire to ascend Jacob's Ladder, and that the Treasurer is the Keeper of the Treasure of their Virtues.

The Cycle of Life as depicted in a Lodge Room
If we travel within our Lodge Room; starting from the East, we begin with the rising sun. Arriving at the South we encounter the noonday sun and in the West, the setting sun. Darkness, or night, is found in the North, from which we emerge once more to the welcoming rays of the dawn, in the East. Looking at this another way: we are born in the East (which as Freemasons, we acknowledge with every new Initiate), reach the summit of our youth and prowess in the South, mature and gain wisdom in the West, die in the north and are resurrected in the East. This is of especial significance, for as Freemasonry was initially restricted to Christians, this symbolically represented the birth, life, death and The Resurrection of Christ. With the reformation of the Craft, whereby recognition of a Supreme Being became the qualification, the retention of this symbolism is still appropriate, as it is inculcated in many of the world's religions. This is the reason behind our clockwise movements around the Lodge Room and also why the Worshipful Master and Wardens should always enter and leave their respective stations, in the same manner.

The Deacons
The first of the Assistant Officers of the Lodge are the Deacons. They are the messengers, or servants, of the Worshipful Master and the Senior Warden. Their title exactly describes the duties they have to perform. The word "deacon" is derived from the Greek "diakonos", meaning "servant". The word was first used ecclesiastically, or in church and, in this sense a Deacon is an assistant to the priest. The part taken by the Deacons in the preparation of, and attendance upon Candidates for the various Degrees, corresponds generally to their function as assistants in church services, or in the wider meaning of Chapel government. According to tradition, the Senior Deacon is the representative of Solkin, an attendant on Hiram, King of Tyre and the Junior Deacon, of Issabred, an attendant on Hiram Abif.

Since the formation of Speculative Masonry, the Jewel of the Deacon has taken various forms. Today, in our Lodges, the dove bearing an olive branch is used, in allusion to God's messenger to Noah. In some other jurisdictions, notably within the United States, the Jewel of the Deacon is the square and compasses, in allusion to the necessity of circumspection and justice that the Office demands. In this case the Jewel of the Senior Deacon has in its centre the sun and the Junior Deacon, a moon. The adoption of the sun and the moon are derived from the mysteries of Ceres, where the torch-bearer represented the sun and the Officer nearest the altar represented the moon. Freemasons adopted this "because the Lodge is a representation of the universe, where, as the sun rules over the day, the moon presides over the night; as the one regulates the year, so does the other the months, and as the former is the king of the starry hosts of heaven, so the latter is their queen; but both deriving their heat, and light, and power from Him, who, as the Greatest Light, the Master of heaven and earth, controls them both."

In the Scottish Constitution, the Jewel of the Senior Deacon is a maul within a circle and that of the Junior Deacon, a trowel within a circle. The Jewel has, at various times, also taken the form of a caduceus, a pine-cone and that which is more common to Mark Lodges, what we have come to know as a Mercury. Mercury was the messenger of the Roman Gods and is represented by the form of a man with winged heels and a winged helmet, carrying in his right hand a caduceus. The caduceus was a wing-topped staff, with two snakes winding about it, which was carried by Hermes, the messenger of the Greek Gods. It was given to Hermes by Apollo and rendered the holder invisible, as well as giving him incredible swiftness. It represented also, wisdom and healing and it is for this reason that it was adopted by medical practitioners as an emblem of their profession. This staff of Hermes was carried by Greek heralds and ambassadors and later became a Roman symbol for truce, neutrality and non-combatant status. The pine-cone, previously mentioned was supposed to represent a simplified version of the caduceus. Thus the Masonic Mercury is a combination of both Greek and Roman mythology.

Although retained in Mark Lodges, the Mercury was discarded by the Craft for two reasons. The first of these was that its pagan origins did not suit the puritanical mores of the day. The second was due to certain character traits of Hermes. Hermes had a great number of endearing qualities which kept him in favour with the residents of Mount Olympus, and he was credited with the invention of many useful and important devices, as well as sports. Unfortunately, he was also an inveterate liar and thief and as such, is the patron-god of thieves - something that is decidedly un-Masonic.

One would assume that the trowel, as worn in the Scottish Constitution, being an important implement of the building trade, would have made an ideal Jewel for an Officer of a Masonic Lodge. So it was. In fact, it was the Jewel of either the Junior Deacon, or the Inner Guard, depending upon under which jurisdiction a Lodge worked. However, the Trowel lost favour among English Freemasons during the period of transportation of convicts to the various penal settlements. As this tool came to be used by convicts in the building of new settlements, it was deemed tainted and seen as an emblem of bondage. Seeing that many convicts sent to Australia were, themselves Freemasons, and that some of these were noted builders and architects, as for example, Francis Greenway, the good people of England, probably had even more conviction to discard the Trowel.

The Inner Guard
The Inner Guard traditionally represents Zerbal, a watchman at the eastern gate of the Temple of King Solomon. His title is self-explanatory and his duties include the responsibility for seeing that visitors are properly vouched for; that Brethren enter the Lodge Room properly clothed and that Candidates approach the Lodge properly prepared. This office developed in the 18th century from that of Inner Tyler, or Inner Guarder. This office existed in English Lodges long before it was honoured with its particular name. In 1734, the Old King's Arms Lodge No.28 had a "doorkeeper" and it is likely that he was the newest Entered Apprentice present. He was armed with a Trowel, upon which Alms were collected, especially during what is now recognised as the North-East Charge of the First Degree. Traditionally therefore, the Jewel of the Inner Guard is a Trowel and that Office was, initially, junior to that of Tyler. In some Constitutions this Office is unknown, these duties being performed by the Junior Deacon. The Jewel of the Inner Guard today, is a pair of swords "in saltire".

The Tyler
The Tyler is traditionally said to represent Ahishar, a faithful Brother who kept watch for the Brethren at Jerusalem. The duties of the Tyler entail the responsibility of the preparation of Candidates and prevention of any unqualified person from gaining admission to, or eavesdropping on, our ceremonies. The origin of the word "Tyler" is considered to be uncertain. One theory is that it is taken from the word "entailer", which was the name given to a craftsman who performed specialised carving work on pinnacles or spires and used different tools to those employed by a stone-mason. It most certainly does not derive from the word "tiler", as in roof-tiler. Terra-cotta tiles and the profession, imported from France into England came long after the establishment of the Masonic Office. There is one explanation, however, which is very seldom heard about. There is an ancient Celtic word which means "guardian". That word is "tylffe", which is still used by those who practice the ancient religion of the Druids. A variation of the word, with a similar meaning, is also found among the Basques.

The Tyler is entrusted with a sword as an implement to assist him in his duties. It is also the Jewel of his Office. Although in most modern Lodges the sword is of ordinary form, it should, however, be wavy in shape, in allusion to "the flaming sword which was placed in the East of the garden of Eden, which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life". It was, of course, without a scabbard, because the Tyler's sword should ever be drawn and ready for the defence of his post.

The Steward
Stewards are generally the labourers of the Lodge and are under the supervision of the Junior Warden and Deacons. The Jewel worn by them is the "cornucopia", or the Horn of Plenty. According to Greek mythology, Zeus was nourished during his infancy, in Crete, by the daughters of Melissus, with milk from the goat, Amalthea. When Zeus came to the empire of the world, in gratitude, he placed Amalthea in the heavens as a constellation. He gave one of her horns to his former nurses, which would, forever, furnish them with a never-failing supply of whatever they might desire. Hence it is the symbol of abundance and as such has been adopted by Masons as the Jewel of a Steward, to remind them that it is their duty to see that the tables are properly furnished at refreshment and that every Brother is suitably served. The Stewards are also charged to assist the Deacons and other Officers in the performance of their duties. The wands or staffs that they carry are symbols of their authority over the rest of the Brethren.

It is perhaps unfortunate that, in the passage of time, the Steward has suffered a loss of precedence and prestige for, in pre-Union days, the Steward in "Modern" Lodges commonly ranked next to the Secretary and the Office was considered to rank higher than that of Deacon. Not until the word itself is closely studied, do we realise the historical significance and importance of the Office. The second syllable of the word is "ward", which as has already been explained, means "guardian", or "watchman". The first syllable is a corruption of the word "sty". Therefore, the full and original meaning of the word "steward" is "pig-guard". This may seem to some to be rather demeaning, but, in fact, it is quite the opposite. As cattle were and still are, a mark of a man's wealth in Africa and Asia, so, in Europe, a man's wealth was determined by the number of pigs he kept. The steward was then, a man entrusted with a large responsibility and the position of steward today is of no less importance; that of manager of a large estate.

"And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision." This passage of Scripture, which is the eighth verse of the fourth Chapter of the First Book of Kings, is of exceeding importance in relation to the Stewards. As can be seen, the duties of these biblical officers can be compared to that of the Lodge's Stewards. The number refers to the maximum number of Stewards permitted in each Lodge, as well as in the Grand Lodges of a number of Constitutions, especially those under Scottish influence. The reason, taken from Scottish ritual is explained thus: "In olden days it was the custom to appoint annually twelve Brethren, now represented in Grand Lodge by the two Sword Bearers, the two Standard Bearers and eight Stewards. They bore the banners of the twelve tribes of Israel." Each of the Officers, appointed by King Solomon was a representative member from one of those twelve tribes. The Grand Stewards appointed within the United Grand Lodge of England, are responsible for organising the catering and expenses for Grand Installations. The costs must be borne by the Grand Stewards themselves, without assistance from any Lodge. This privilege extended itself into the formation of the Grand Stewards' Lodge, in London, with membership restricted to Past Grand Stewards.

The Organist
An essential, but much forgotten Office, is that of Organist, without whom our ceremonies would be sadly lacking in colour, harmony and character. His duty is to provide music suitable for our ceremonies and his talents often provide light-hearted moments in our otherwise formal engagements. In some Constitutions he may work in conjunction with a Director of Music, or a Choirmaster. Much as we delight in listening to a good organist, sadly, a number of jurisdictions not only do not have such Officers, but absolutely forbid the sound of music, or harmony, in their assemblies.

In all Constitutions, other than the Irish, the Jewel worn by the Organist is the lyre. That of Director of Music or Choirmaster is the same, but surmounted by a baton. The lyre was the most important stringed musical instrument of classical Greece; known from the Sumerian period onward. It was the instrument played by David and by the Jewish captives in Babylon. The Greeks attributed its invention to Hermes, who struck sounds from the dried cartilages of a tortoiseshell that he picked up from the banks of the Nile. In the Irish Constitution the Jewel is the Irish harp, which is, of course, a national emblem.

The Chaplain
The Chaplain is the first Officer to be invested after the Wardens. The Grand Lodge of South Australia, as in a number of other Constitutions, dictates that this Office must be filled by a clergyman. However, if one is not to be found within the Lodge, then a Brother, who is deemed worthy, may act in that capacity. The duty of the Chaplain is to offer up prayers and invocations to the Great Architect of the Universe. He represents Azariah, the son of Zadoc, the priest who attended upon King Solomon. His Jewel is the Volume of the Sacred Law within a triangle, the whole surmounting a Glory; that same Glory that has previously been mentioned.

In most Lodges, the Chaplain sits at a lectern in the south-eastern corner of the Lodge Room. On this lectern rests a copy of the Volume of the Sacred Law. In some Lodges, the lectern itself is of special design, the Volume of the Sacred Law appearing to be supported by the outspread wings of an eagle. There are two main reasons why this design is important to us as Freemasons and both relate to the early Christian influence in the Craft. The first is to remind us of the presence of God at all our assemblies, "for as He said to the Israelites of old, `I bare ye on eagle's wings and brought you unto Myself' ". The second refers to St. John, the Evangelist, one of the Patron Saints of our Order, whose emblem is the eagle.

The Almoner
In this jurisdiction, but not necessarily in others, an Almoner sits with the Chaplain. He is the representative of Elihoreph, one of Solomon's scribes. His duties include visiting the sick and distressed and to make recommendations to the Lodge, for relief to those distressed Brethren, or their families. He may also advise the Lodge on charitable contributions to be made to other worthy causes. In some Constitutions, this Office is filled by a member of the medical or nursing profession. The Jewel of the Almoner is a scrip-purse upon which is a heart, for as Brotherly Love and Relief are cornerstones of the Masonic structure, so the Almoner should seek out members and dependants of deceased members, whose circumstances warrant assistance.

The Director of Ceremonies
This Officer has a most important function to perform. To him falls the responsibility of ensuring that our ceremonies are carried out with decorum, as well as to the instructions set out by Grand Lodge. Thus will our ritual convey to the Candidate, as well to ourselves, those important lessons it has been designed so to do. He is also responsible for the correct placement of visitors and Brethren within the Lodge, according to rank. The Jewel of his Office is two rods "in saltire". He is also entrusted with a baton, the emblem of his authority. In other Constitutions and in other Orders of Freemasonry, this Officer may bear the title of Marshal, or Mareschal.

This particular Office, in State affairs, is very ancient. It was found in the court of the Byzantine emperors and was introduced into England at the period of the Norman Conquest. His badge of Office, then as now, was a rod, which was known as a "verge"; hence the Office of Verger in church government. For convenience, this staff of Office, similar to that carried by our Deacons and Stewards, became the baton with which we are all familiar. The rod has "in all ages, and yet doth amongst all nations and amongst all officers, signify correction and peace; for by correction follows peace, wherefore the verge or rod was the ensign of him which had the authority to reform evil in war and peace, and to see quiet and order observed amongst the people."

The Immediate Past Master
The final Office to receive our attention is that of Immediate Past Master. As has been previously stated, his is the only Office not won by election, nor gained by appointment, thereto. It is his by right, "…having faithfully and zealously carried out the performance of his duty as Master of the Lodge." His role is that of an adviser to the Worshipful Master, passing on his newly-won experience to his successor.

The Jewel of the Immediate Past Master is, suspended from a square, the representation of Euclid's 47th Proposition, more commonly known as Pythagoras' Theorem, which, when stated correctly, is: "In any right-angled triangle, the square which is described upon the side subtending the right-angle, is equal to the squares described upon the sides which contain the right-angle." Some Masonic writers claim that this knowledge and the 3-4-5 system of constructing a right-angled triangle, which is deduced from it, was the secret known only to three persons - Solomon, King of Israel; Hiram, King of Tyre and Hiram Abif - and that each carried a staff, one of three, one of four and the other of five cubits in length. It is interesting to note that this last is maintained by the Worshipful Society of Freemasons, or Operatives.

Pythagoras, it is said, was so elated after making this discovery, that he made the offering of a hecatomb, or a sacrifice of one hundred oxen, to the gods. The devotion to learning which this religious act indicated in the mind of the ancient philosopher induced Freemasons to adopt the problem as a memento, instructing them to be lovers of the arts and sciences.

In most Constitutions, it is necessary for the Worshipful Master, Treasurer and Tyler to be elected annually by a ballot of some form. In others, all Offices are declared vacant at the meeting prior to the Installation and Brethren are elected on that night, for the ensuing year. They are then invested at the Installation meeting. If a member declined Office, including that of Worshipful Master, it was common in many old Lodges, for that Brother to be fined; the amount determined by the Office refused and in no case would that fine be inconsequential.

The Officers of a Lodge carry an enormous burden; one that increases with every promotion. An Officer should not only carry out those duties specific to his particular Office, whilst in the precincts of the Lodge, but practice those duties that he has solemnly promised so to do: by doing his "…utmost to forward the interests of the Lodge and support the Worshipful Master in his various duties." Not only do new and greater responsibilities come with each promotion, but rewards are also increased; not those of financial, or material, gain, but spiritual rewards, until rising to eminence by merit, one may live respected and die regretted.


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This post was featured on episode 14 of the BROUGHT TO LIGHT MASONIC PODCAST about lodge officers. Congratulations to the poster and Blake for having some of our "blog" contents on that podcast and congratulations to Jack, host of that podcast and President of the Blue Lounge Social Club for his work. Perhaps one day Jack will win the famed Chinese Antiquity.....

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