MASTER — Brethren and Friends: It has been a custom among the Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons from time immemorial, at the request of a departed Brother or his family, to assemble in the character of Masons and, with the solemn formalities of the Craft, to offer up to his memory, before the world, the last tribute of our affection.
Our Brother has reached the end of his earthly toils. The brittle thread which bound him to earth has been severed and the liberated spirit has winged its flight to the unknown world. The silver cord is loosed; the golden bowl is broken; the pitcher is broken at the fountain; and the wheel is broken at the cistern. The dust has returned to the earth as it was, and the spirit has returned to God who gave it.
An anthem or other solemn music may here be introduced.
Master reads Sacred Roll: Brother (full name), a Master Mason. Member of (Name of Lodge and Number) . Entered into rest (date), Age x years, y months and z days.
Almighty Father! Into Thy hands we commend the soul of our beloved Brother.
The Great Creator having in His infinite wisdom, removed our Brother from the cares and troubles of this earthly life, thus severing another link in the fraternal chain by which we are bound together, let us who survive him be yet more strongly cemented by the ties of Brotherly love; that during the brief space allotted to us here, we may wisely and usefully employ our time, and, in the mutual exchange of kind and friendly acts, promote the welfare and happiness of each other.
While we pay this fraternal tribute to his memory, let us not forget, my brethren, that we, too, are mortal; and that our spirits, too, must return to the God who spake them into existence. "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble. He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not." The almighty fiat has gone forth — "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return;" and that we are all subject to that decree, the daily observation of our lives furnishes evidence not to be forgotten.
Seeing then, my brethren, that life is so uncertain, and that all material pursuits are vain, let us no longer postpone the all-important concern of preparing for eternity; but let us embrace the present moment, while time and opportunity are offered, to provide for that great change when all the pomp and pleasure of this fleeting world will pall upon the senses, and the recollection of a virtuous and well-spent life will yield the only comfort and consolation. Thus we shall not be unprepared to enter into the presence of the one all-wise and powerful Judge, to whom the secrets of all hearts are known; and on the great day of reckoning we shall be ready to give a good account of our stewardship while here on earth.
With becoming reverence let us supplicate the Divine Grace, whose goodness and power know no bounds, that, on the arrival of the momentous hour, our Faith may remove the clouds of doubt, draw aside the sable curtains of the hidden world beyond, and bid Hope sustain and cheer the departing spirit.
CHAPLAIN: — Most Glorious God! Author of all good, and Giver of all mercy! Pour down Thy blessing upon us, we beseech Thee, and strengthen our solemn engagements with the ties of sincere affection! Endue us with fortitude and resignation in this hour of sorrow, and grant that this dispensation from Thy hands may be sanctified in its results upon the hearts of those who now meet to mourn! May the present instance of mortality draw our attention toward Thee, the only refuge in time of need. Enable us to look with eyes of Faith toward that realm whose skies are never darkened by sorrow; and after our departure hence in peace and in Thy favor, may we be received into Thy everlasting kingdom, to enjoy the just reward of a virtuous and well-spent life. Amen!
BRETHREN: — So mote it be!
Solemn music may here again be introduced, after which the Master continues.
MASTER: — Our Brother has been raised in that blissful Lodge which no time can close, but which will remain open during the boundless ages of eternity. In that Heavenly Sanctuary, the Mystic Light, unmingled with darkness, will reign unbroken and perpetual. There, under the protection of the All-Seeing Eye, amid the smiles of Immutable Love, in that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, — there, my brethren, may Almighty God in His infinite mercy, grant that we may meet again, to part no more.
Master displays apron
The Lambskin Apron is an emblem of innocence and the badge of a Mason; more ancient than the Golden Fleece or the Roman Eagle, more honorable than the Star or Garter, or any distinction that can be conferred by king, prince, potentate or any other person. By it we are continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct so essentially necessary to gain admission into the Celestial Lodge above where the Supreme Grand Master of the Universe forever presides.
Master displays Acacia
This Evergreen, which once marked the temporary resting place of one illustrious in Masonic history, is an emblem of our enduring faith in the Immortality of the Soul. By it we are reminded that we have an imperishable part within us, which shall survive all earthly existence, and which will never, never die. Through the loving goodness of our Supreme Grand Master, we may confidently hope that, like this Evergreen, our souls will hereafter flourish in eternal spring.
We shall ever cherish in our hearts the memory of our departed Brother and, commending his spirit to Almighty God, we trustingly leave him in the hands of that Beneficent Being who has done all things well; who is glorious in His Holiness, wondrous in His Power, and boundless in His Goodness; and it should always be our endeavor so to live that we too may be found worthy to inherit the kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world.
NOTE: A eulogy may be delivered at this point by Master or any other person, if desired, after which the Master proceeds.
MASTER: — We extend to the bereaved relatives and friends of our departed Brother our sincere sympathy in this hour of sorrow, and we pray that "He who tempers the wind to the shorn Lamb" will give them His divine comfort and consolation, and that they may come to realize that the spirit of our Brother is happy in his Father's house, where "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and where there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away."
"Committal" may take place in the Chapel or Lodge room or graveside at the place of interment.
MASTER: — Soft and safe to thee, my Brother, be thy resting place! Bright and glorious be thy rising from it! Fragrant be the acacia sprig that there shall flourish! May the earliest buds of spring unfold their beauties o'er thy resting place, and there may the sweetness of the summer's last rose linger longest! Though the winds of Autumn may destroy the loveliness of their existence, yet the destruction is not final, and in the springtime, they shall surely bloom again. So, in the bright morning of the resurrection, thy spirit shall spring into newness of life and expand in immortal beauty, in realms beyond the skies. Until then, dear Brother, until then, farewell!
CHAPLAIN: — The Lord bless us and keep us! The Lord make His face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us! The Lord lift upon us the light of His countenance and give us peace! Amen!
BRETHREN: — So mote it be!