The Graveside Address – Often wrongly described as a Masonic Funeral!
This was transcribed from the book “Freemasonry and its Etiquette” by William Preston Campbell-Everden and published in 1955
After the Funeral Ceremony
(This follows the usual funeral service of the religious denomination to which the deceased Brother belonged)
The WM reads as follows:
Brethren.- The melancholy event which has caused us to assemble on the present occasion cannot have failed to impress itself on the mind of everyone present. The loss of a friend and Brother – especially of one whose loss we now deplore – conveys a powerful appeal to our hearts, reminding us as it does of the uncertainty of life, and of the vanity of earthly hopes and designs.
Amid the pleasures, the cares, and the various avocations of life we are too apt to forget that upon us also the common lot of all mankind must one day fall, and that Death’s dread summons may surprise us even in the meridian of our lives, and in the full spring-tide of enjoyment and success.
The ceremonial observances which we practise during the obsequies of a departed Brother, are intended to remind us of our own “inevitable destiny” and to warn us that we also should be likewise ready, for we know not the day nor the hour when in the case of each of us ”the dust shall return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it.”
Then Brethren, let us lay these things seriously to heart; let us strive in all things to act up to our Masonic profession, to live in accordance with the high moral precepts inculcated in our Ceremonies, and to practically illustrate in our lives and our actions the ancient tenets and established customs of the Order. Thus, in humble dependence upon the mercy of the Most High, we may hope, when this transitory life, with all its cares and sorrows, shall have passed away, to rejoin this our departed friend and Brother in the Grand Lodge above, where the world’s Great Architect lives and reigns for ever.
All- So mote it be.
(the following supplications are then offered by the master: )
WM – May we be true and faithful, and may we live in fraternal affection one towards another, and die in peace with all mankind.
WM – May we practise that which is wise and good, and always act in accordance with our Masonic profession.
WM – May the Great Architect of the Universe bless us, and direct us in all that we undertake and do in His Holy Name.
(The Secretary then advances and throws his roll into the grave, while the Master repeats, in an audible voice: )
WM – Glory be to God on high! On earth peace! Goodwill towards men!
All SMIB, now henceforth, and for evermore!
There is a calm for those who weep,
A rest for weary pilgrims found;
They softly lie and sweetly sleep,
Low in the ground! Low in the ground!
The storm that wracks the winter sky
No more disturbs their deep repose,
Than summer evening’s latest sigh,
That shuts the rose! That shuts the rose!
Ah mourner! Long of storms the sport,
Condemn’d in wretchedness to roam,
Hope thou shall reach a sheltering port,
A quiet home! A quiet home!
The sun is like a spark of fire,
A transient meteor in the sky;
The soul, immortal as its sire,
Shall never die! Shall never die!
(The Master then concludes the ceremony at the grave in the following words)
WM – From time immemorial it has been the custom among the Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons, at the request of a Brother on his death-bed, to accompany his corpse to the place of interment; and there to deposit his remains with the usual formalities of the Order. In conformity with this usage, and at the special request of our deceased Brother, whose loss we deeply deplore, we are here assembled as Freemasons, to consign his body to the earth, and, openly before the world, to offer up in his memory the last tribute of our fraternal affections, thereby demonstrating the sincerity of our esteem for our deceased brother, and our inviolable attachment to the principles of the Order.
*[With all proper respect to the established customs of the country in which we live, with due deference to all in authority in Church and State, and with unlimited goodwill to all mankind, we here appear as Freemasons, clothed with the insignia of the Order, and publicly express our submission to order and good government, and our wish to promote the general interests of mankind. Invested with “the badge of innocence and the bond of friendship,” we humbly bow to the Universal Parent; we implore His blessing on our zealous endeavours to promote peace and goodwill; and we earnestly pray for His grace, to enable us to persevere in the [i]practise[/i] of piety and virtue]
The Great Creator having been pleased, in His infinite wisdom, to remove our worthy Brother from the cares and troubles of this transitory life, and thereby to weaken the ties by which we are united to the world, may we who survive him, anticipating our own approaching end, be more strongly cemented in the bonds of union and friendship, and during the short space which is allotted to us in our present existence, may we wisely and usefully employ our time in the interchange of kind and fraternal acts, and may we strive earnestly to promote the welfare and happiness of our fellow-men.
Unto the grave we have consigned the body of our deceased friend and Brother, there to remain until the general resurrection, in the fullest confidence that both body and soul will then arise to partake of the joys which have been prepared for the righteous from the beginning of the world.
And may Almighty God, of his infinite goodness, at that last grand tribunal, extend His mercy towards him, and all of us, and crown our hope with everlasting bliss, in the realms of a boundless eternity! This we beg, for the honour of His Name, to whom be glory, now and forever.
*The paragraph between brackets [ ] may be omitted.
It is decreed in heaven above
That we, from those whom best we love,
But hard the word would be to tell,
If to our friend we said farewell,
And thus the meaning we explain –
We hope, and be our hope not vain,
That though we part, we meet again,
A brief farewell; then meet again
(Then the Brethren, led by the WM, pass around the grave, and each Brother casts a sprig of acacia on the coffin) Ends.
A Lodge of Sorrow
At a convenient meeting following the passing of a Lodge Member to the GL Above, the WM may constitute a ‘Lodge of Sorrow’using the following form:
The Lodge is already open in the 1º.
The lights are dimmed progressively to solemn organ music until the lodge is lit only by the WM, SW & JW candles. WM – 1k, SW – 1k, JW – 1k.
WM – ‘I now declare this Lodge of Sorrow duly open. Bro Secretary, call the roll.’
The Secretary calls the membership roll of the lodge, the
deceased member being called last. As a Brother’s name is called he
will answer ‘present’. If a brother is not in attendance, the Assistant Secretary will say ‘apologies’ (for the purposes of this ceremony, whether apologies have been received or not). The name of the deceased Brother is called last and after a suitable pause is called for a second and then a third time, each time being met with silence. After the third time, the Chaplain will say ‘WM, Bro. Wardens and Brethren – Bro. XXXX has been called to the Grand Lodge above’.
At this point,
the DC will take the deceased Brother’s regalia (ready in the East on a cushion) and perambulate the temple up the S side, across the W and
down the N to the E, slowly to the Funeral March from ‘Saul’ carrying
the deceased Bros. Regalia on a cushion. At the end of the perambulation, the regalia are placed on a vacant seat in the east,
placed at the right of the WM ped and remain there whilst the Chaplain gives the eulogy.
The Chaplain then says the prayer:
It is decreed in heaven above, that we from those whom best we love, must sever,
But hard the word would be to tell if, to our friends, we said farewell forever.
And so the meaning we explain, we hope, and be our hope not in vain
That though we part we meet again.
A brief farewell, then meet again
Death is nothing at all – I have only slipped away into
the next room.
I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other,
which we are still.
Call me by my old familiar name; speak to me in the
easy way you always used.
Put no difference into your tone; wear no
forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the
little jokes we enjoyed together.
A hymn is sung for the deceased Bro. and if possible the ‘Last Post’ is also played.
The DC then takes the cushion bearing the regalia to the door of the lodge, which is opened by the IG and then passes cushion to T. DC resumes his seat, IG closing the door softly, with reverence.
WM – ‘Brethren, I now declare this
Lodge of Sorrow Closed’. – 1k, SW – 1k, JW – 1k.
The WM then continues with the rest of the agenda.