So here I was, expecting that all I would have to do was learn some words for my installation, and then Brother Secretary hands me a few notes he’s written about what is expected of me before I become Master.
Appoint your Officers
Up until this point, I thought that some lodge officers were appointed by committee (or rather, for a voluntary organisation, who steps forward and meets no resistance), whilst others were on a rota. I was correct, except the Master is still expected to appoint all officers, except two.
As I’ve already mentioned, I’m currently Senior Warden, and the natural progression is for me to enter the Master’s chair. But there are other offices that I’ve been through to reach this point, so members progress through these offices before taking the Chair.
These tend to be roles that people stay in for a long time (e.g. Secretary, Chaplain, Organist, Charity Steward, etc.), and it is a courtesy for the Master to invite them to continue in their role each year. Should a change be necessary, the Master Elect would still have to consult with the Past Masters.
The Exceptions to the rule
There are two offices that are not appointed by the Master, but elected by the Lodge members, namely the Treasurer and the Tyler. The Tyler usually spends the entirety of a Lodge meeting outside the Lodge, so the brethren are essentially voting for someone not to be in the meetings. Before you read anything more into that last statement, many lodges hire a Tyler, whilst others take it in turns.
Preparation for the installation
This is where I have to learn some words.
Once installed as Master, I need to appoint and invest my many officers; sixteen offices, plus the stewards.
At first glance this may seem daunting, but there is also a lot of repetition (lots of things are repeated over and over again), so there is a predictable structure to each speech, beginning with “It gives me great pleasure to appoint you as…”, and then blocks where, depending on role, you invest with the collar and explain what the attached jewel represents, you hand over the tools explaining how they are to be utilised, and then say where their place in lodge might be, and why. And not all offices have a detailed explanation, so that with the repetition and format of the other speeches, it shouldn’t be too difficult to learn in a few weeks.
But it doesn’t stop there…
So after being installed, we have a meeting that is still ‘open’. Before closing the meeting, we have to conduct the business on the rest of the agenda. This usually consists of:
- Special Awards
- Reports from the Almoner and Charity Steward
- The ‘Risings’, where the Secretary gives reports and notices from Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge; the Treasurer can give a summary of the Lodge’s financial status, and any other members can bring up other business, such as requests for donations, etc.
As Master, I’ll be expected to run the meeting, just as any chairman would, but with a set protocol. At the end, we have a particular way of closing our meeting, which I should know the words for, and then I will be escorted out of the ‘temple’.
… And there’s more!
The evening doesn’t end there though.
We have a meal, during which some ‘greetings’ take place. And following the meal, Grace is sung, followed by the National Anthem, and then begins the list of formal toasts, beginning with our patron, then the Grand Master, followed by his officers, working down a list until the Master is toasted, and a speech, or response, is given. And then we always, always, toast our visitors, which will also receive a response.
Occasionally we toast to absent brethren.
Finally, the last toast of the evening is to poor and distressed Freemasons, wishing them a speedy return to well-being.
So to summarise, I need to:
- Invite my officers (already done!)
- Learn the words to appoint my officers
- Learn the words for the Risings and Closing the Lodge
- Write a response speech to my toast
Oh, and before I forget, I also need to:
- appoint a committee to plan and organise the Ladies Night/Festival
- choose a charity to donate some of our money to
- invite some guests to my installation
The more I think about it, there seems to be more to do… Is it too late to change my mind…?