A Handbook for Directors of Ceremonies
By W Bro Dr. Orrin Barrow, CD, CCH, JP, PJGD, PDistGDC
Updated March 2012
The District Grand Lodge of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands is comprised of 24 Lodges. In addition, Lodges of the other two senior Grand Lodges (Ireland and Scotland) share our territory with frequent inter-visitation, there are presently no battles for hegemony and several brethren are members of Lodges under all three Constitutions. Maintaining this harmonious situation demands that Directors of Ceremonies must be able to master the intricacies and nuances of masonic protocol and etiquette, by which means they are enabled to function to the satisfaction of their Lodge and advantage to their District.
If a member of an English Lodge is also a member of a ‘Sister’ Constitution, he must wear his English regalia when attending a Lodge under the English Constitution, unless he is part of an official delegation from a Lodge of a different Constitution, or part of a delegation from the Scottish District or Irish Province. Even if such a brother is a Ruler in another Constitution (District or Provincial Grand Master, Deputy or Assistant District/Provincial Grand Master), and is not a member of the Administration of the Lodge in which he is present, he is not permitted to wear the regalia displaying his rank in that Constitution.
There are clear distinctions between rank, precedence and masonic courtesy, and it is suggested that a Director of Ceremonies - or a brother aspiring to that office - should familiarize himself with the “Rules of Precedence” of The United Grand Lodge of England, as well as the July 2011 paper circulated by Grand Secretary to all District Grand Masters on “Precedence of Grand Lodges”. Also helpful is the Chapter titled “Rank and Precedence, Seating and Saluting” in Graham Redman’s Book “Masonic Etiquette Today”. In the District of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, visitors to a meeting of a Private Lodge from recognized Constitutions are entitled to no precedence, although as a masonic courtesy the strict rules of precedence are frequently relaxed by our Directors of Ceremonies on such occasions. The recipients of such courtesies must however, never be led to believe that those outward but sincere manifestations of civility and graciousness represent entitlement.
It is not within the province of a District Grand Director of Ceremonies to dictate to individual Directors of Ceremonies how to conduct the various ‘workings’ within their respective Lodges, especially when nearly every Lodge has its own version of an established ritual. Furthermore, members of a Lodge have an undoubted right to regulate their own proceedings provided they are consistent with the general laws and regulations of the Craft. It is within his province however, to offer advice on protocol and good governance especially when lack of knowledge or agreement on such matters results in more than one dichotomy among our Lodges.
THE DIRECTOR OF CEREMONIES
The Director of Ceremonies of a private Lodge acts under the direct authority of the Worshipful Master, yet the very nature of his office demands that he must be permitted - to a great extent - to develop his own ‘modus operandi’. However, he must be fully conversant with the ritual used by his Lodge, must insist that all members have the most recent edition of same, and should insist that rituals are not opened during the ceremonies other than by those who are authorized to prompt. The need for an intimate knowledge of the By-Laws of his Lodge, the Book of Constitutions and the booklet issued by the United Grand Lodge of England entitled “Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft” cannot be overemphasized.
However, although appointed by the Worshipful Master he must not be allowed to outlast his ability to faithfully and zealously perform the duties of his office, nor be persuaded to believe that the position has been conferred on him in perpetuity.
Some of the older Lodges in the District have customs and traditions that appear strange to visiting brethren of the English Constitution, even to those who use the same basic ritual. It is desirable that such customs and traditions are maintained, provided that they are not contrary to the edicts of the United Grand Lodge of England.
The Director of Ceremonies is responsible for ensuring that the ceremonial associated with both the Lodge room and the festive board is conducted with dignity, decorum, discipline, expedition and good order, and his visible role should be as unobtrusive as possible. At all times he should set an example to the brethren regarding dress and behaviour, and should discreetly point out to them any infringement of etiquette.
He must make sure that rehearsals are held, and be present at least 45 minutes before the scheduled start of meetings. The latter is necessary to ensure the proper setup of the Lodge room, and that the items needed for each ceremony are readily available. To this end, it is considered highly advisable to have a written checklist of those items for ease of reference.
Members of the Administration must be encouraged to be in the Lodge room – wearing their regalia – at least 20 minutes before the start of all meetings, and those officers unable to attend should inform the Director of Ceremonies in sufficient time for him to indentify a replacement.
Starting each meeting ON TIME is impatient of debate.
The wand of a Director of Ceremonies is his Badge of Office and should be carried properly at all times. It should never be placed horizontally on the floor, on the Secretary’s table, or given to a nearby brother to hold temporarily. It should be carried at the vertical during perambulations. The District Grand Directors of Ceremonies carry their wands lightly between the first two fingers and thumb of the right hand, holding them erect and with the left arm held at their sides. Given the enormous variation in how Lodge Deacons carry their wands, it may prove worthwhile to have them copy the DistGDC’s example. Some Directors of Ceremonies use a ‘short’ wand – held in a variety of ways - and such usage is acceptable.
THE ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF CEREMONIES
The office of the Assistant Director of Ceremonies offers the ideal training ground for a future Director of Ceremonies. If seated in the northwest, he should be a constant source of muted advice and encouragement to the Inner Guard, and be ready to assist in the investiture of a candidate. He must also be able to assist with the investiture of Officers at Installations, and be familiar with the formation of processions.
Like the Director of Ceremonies he should attend all rehearsals, and be present at least 45 minutes before the start of every meeting.
PREPARING FOR AND MANAGING REGULAR MEETINGS
- The aim of every Director of Ceremonies must be to oversee a meeting that proceeds smoothly, efficiently, and without undue haste.
- Lodge rehearsals are indispensable for enjoyable meetings, and it should be emphasized to participating brethren that the ceremonies are for the benefit of the candidate. Retention of masons is not aided by shoddy work or unabashed reading from the ritual.
- Proper and careful planning is critical to the success of every meeting, especially when a ‘working’ is on the agenda. For example, are the VSL, Book of Constitutions, By-Laws of the Lodge, Working Tools, and the Warrant in place? Are slippers, a ‘sharp instrument’, cable tow, blindfold and the appropriate apron available when required?
- There must be collaboration beforehand between the Worshipful Master, Secretary and the Director of Ceremonies regarding items to be placed on the agenda for every meeting, and between the Worshipful Master and the Director of Ceremonies as to how they should be introduced. The FIRST item on the agenda should be “To Open the Lodge”. There is no need for the Secretary to read the Summons convening the meeting, or for the Master to state that having been previously circulated the Summons and Agenda can be taken as read.
- The SECOND item should read something like this: “To confirm the Minutes of the last regular meeting which have been previously circulated”. Minutes should not now be read at any Lodge Meeting. Similarly, Minutes of Committee Meetings should be circulated with the Minutes of the last regular meeting and not read.
- If an agenda item is ‘To transact any other business’, it would normally be the indication for the Worshipful Master to “Rise for the first time”.
- It is necessary for every Director of Ceremonies to eradicate instances of inappropriate and uncalled-for prompting. Prompting is an art not easily mastered, and we have all observed overzealous brethren marring ceremonials by ill-timed utterances. In the event that neither he nor his assistant is responsible for all prompting, individuals should be identified beforehand to prompt during specific portions of the ceremony.
- If the Immediate Past Master is to prompt the Worshipful Master, he should not have his ritual open for that purpose throughout the meeting. If this is not possible, he should be relieved of that responsibility.
- It is the responsibility of every Director of Ceremonies to ensure that meetings are not unnecessarily prolonged for whatever reason. A 7.00 PM start for a meeting that has a First or Second Degree Working as the main item on the agenda, should be finished no later than 8.30 PM. This allows brethren the opportunity to spend ‘quality time’ with each other afterwards.
- Unless a Lodge has a different tradition for balloting, the means of ballot must first be distributed to those who wish to vote and the ballot then declared open. Brethren then deposit the ballot after which the ballot is declared closed.
- To avoid unnecessary delays it is recommended that when balloting for a candidate has taken place at a meeting prior to his initiation, fees are collected and the Declaration Book signed BEFORE the start of the meeting for initiation.
- There are legitimate reasons why it is not recommended that balloting and initiation take place at the same meeting. However, when this has been scheduled a Lodge should strictly adhere to the policy that if a brother has any misgivings about a candidate, they must be conveyed to the Worshipful Master before the meeting and those items removed from the agenda - pending further discussion at a Lodge Committee Meeting.
- Preparation of the candidate should take place immediately after the Lodge is opened, and the Director of Ceremonies should provide the Tyler with a list of what is required for the preparation in each degree.
- The Tyler is responsible for the proper preparation of a candidate, and it is unnecessary for one or two brethren to be called on to assist him for this purpose.
- Candidates should be directed by their Proposer/Seconder to be present at the masonic building at least 30 minutes before the scheduled start of the meeting, and not to wear ‘tight-fitting’ clothes for obvious reasons. In some Lodges, special ‘loose-fitting’ garments – with potential openings in appropriate places - are provided for candidates. Lodges in the District may wish to seriously consider this as an option.
- With knowledge comes confidence, and with confidence comes assertiveness. These attributes will enable a Director of Ceremonies to speedily and effectively eliminate interference from any Past Master who chooses to forget the supreme authority of the Master, or believes that there is more than one Director of Ceremonies.
A few Lodges now have a Committee charged with the responsibility of planning all administrative and financial aspects of the Installation – including the Banquet. The only thing the Master-Elect then has to do is learn his ritual work, obtain his apron, attend rehearsals and his Installation, and pay for his meal and those of his personal guests. Such a Committee is strongly recommended for all Lodges in the District.
The Director of Ceremonies must prepare an extended agenda well in advance of the Installation, for the benefit of the Installing Master and the Master-Elect.
The Master-Elect must be able to perform his first act – that of investing the Immediate Past Master – flawlessly, move effortlessly from one item to the other, and close the Lodge properly.
He must be made to understand that he will be the Ruler of the Lodge, and that Past Masters of the Lodge are just that - PAST Masters!
THE INSTALLATION MEETING
The main purpose of this is to install the new Master, and afterwards appoint and invest Officers of the incoming administration. Rehearsals are essential for a well-ordered Installation, and all matters not directly related to it should be removed from the agenda. As an example, Committees should be elected and Audited Accounts presented at the previous meeting. If necessary the By-Laws should be amended to permit this.
The only chairs that would normally need to be filled by Past Masters are those of the Wardens, Inner Guard and Tyler, with the assumption that the Chaplain is already a Past Master.
The Director of Ceremonies should make sure that designated seats are available for the Wardens when the DistGM and his Wardens occupy the chairs, and a wand stand provided for the District Grand Director of Ceremonies to the right of his chair at the eastern end of the north row.
Four ‘stands’ should always be available in the East – one for the District Grand Master’s Standard, one for the District Grand Lodge Standard, and two for the wands of the District Deputy and Assistant Grand Directors of Ceremonies.
The maximum time for an Installation meeting should be TWO hours. This is readily achievable if appropriate modifications are made to the Order of Proceedings.
The Districts and the Irish Province should be admitted within twenty minutes of the Lodge being opened.
Admission of brethren during the Installation Meeting should be strictly regulated, thereby avoiding innumerable interruptions in the proceedings.
There is no need for the Working Tools to be presented ‘in extenso’, nor is there any advantage in fully Opening and Closing the Lodge in the Second and Third Degrees. It is recommended that the latter be done using the ‘short method’ – “By the power in me vested I open/resume the Lodge ----“
Not all rituals clearly indicate where the Lodge’s Director of Ceremonies should stand when giving directions for the three salutations, but it is strongly recommended that he stand in front of his chair in the southeast of the Lodge thereby enabling the brethren on the floor to easily see him, and note his instructions. The Assistant Director of Ceremonies (with his wand) would be at the ‘head’ of the brethren lined up in the North for the perambulations, and it is suggested that he does not salute the Worshipful Master in ‘passing’. Under those circumstances, the Installing Master would then say “Following the Assistant Director of Ceremonies”, and not “Following and copying the Assistant Director of Ceremonies”.
There are a number of possible scenarios that would significantly reduce the time normally taken to invest Officers, and the Director of Ceremonies is advised to select an appropriate one – with or without the assistance of the District Grand Director of Ceremonies. Officers being reappointed do not need to be reinvested. That group should be dealt with separately, stand when their names and Offices are called, and give a court bow to the Worshipful Master. The court bow is made by bowing the head, and not the upper body.
Presentations to the District Grand Master must be made before he replies to the welcome from the newly installed Master.
When visiting a Lodge, the leadership of the District and the Grand Officers must be treated with the respect they deserve, and should be seated in the northeast according to precedence. If the DistGM has asked a brother to be his ‘Official Representative’ at any Meeting of an English Lodge, regardless of his rank he must be seated to the immediate right of the Worshipful Master.
The order of precedence for the leadership of the District is the District Grand Master, the Past District Grand Master(s), the Deputy District Grand Master, the Past Deputy District Grand Masters, the Assistant District Grand Masters, and the Past Assistant District Grand Masters. The order of precedence for Grand Officers is easily obtained by consulting the Book of Constitutions.
At the Half-Yearly Communications, the Rulers (DistGM, DDistGM and ADistGM’s) take precedence over Past DistGM’s, Past DDistGM’s, Past ADistGM’s, and other RW or VW Brethren.
For salutations, the concept that ‘the greater includes the lesser’, dictates the policy in the District if the present – or past – Deputy or Assistant District Grand Masters accompany the District Grand Master to a Lodge Meeting.
At most ‘regular’ Lodge Meetings, salutations are given after the agenda item ‘Matters arising from the Minutes’ and it is the practice to salute Grand and District Grand Officers together unless a Ruler or Past Ruler is in attendance. However, it is not incorrect to salute them either immediately before the Risings, or during the second ‘Rising’.
The number of salutations given to the leadership of the District is straightforward. The DistGM and Past DistGM(s) are entitled to ‘7’, and Present and Past Deputy and Assistant District Grand Masters are entitled to ‘5’ in their District.
By virtue of his Grand Rank – Past Junior Grand Warden - Major-General Rudolph Green is a ‘RW Bro’ in addition to being a Past Deputy District Grand Master. He is therefore entitled to ‘7’ except when the DistGM is present, because DistGM’s take precedence over Grand Wardens. If Present or Past Deputy or Assistant District Grand Masters are present in a Lodge of the District, he is not saluted as a Past Grand Warden but as a Past Deputy District Grand Master.
‘VW Bro’s’ are also entitled to ‘5’, but if they are below the rank of Deputy or Assistant District Grand Master they must stand when any of those Rulers are being saluted in their District.
It is not the practice in the District for ‘non-English’ Grand Officers to be saluted at Regular or Installation Meetings.
THE FESTIVE BOARD
The protocol for seating at the festive board for an Installation Meeting is a simple one. Where ‘round’ tables are utilized, six seats are to be made available at the head table. The Officers of the Lodge that should sit there are the Worshipful Master, the Immediate Past Master and the Director of Ceremonies. These brethren plus the leaders of the English, Irish and Scottish delegations complete the seating. The District Grand Director of Ceremonies is responsible for arranging the seating at the head table, and for seating the Acting Officers of District Grand Lodge - whether round or rectangular tables are used.
When round tables are utilized, the English Grand Officers sit to the immediate right of the head table.
When a rectangular table is used as the head table, Rulers and Grand Officers of the English Constitution sit to the right of the Worshipful Master in order of precedence. Depending on the number of places available after the leaders of the Irish and Scottish delegations have been allocated seats, some English Grand Officers may be able to sit to the left of the leader of the Scottish delegation, failing which they sit where directed by the District Grand Director of Ceremonies.
As a consequence of a decision taken at a Tripartite meeting, representatives of the ‘Sister Constitutions’ will sit at the outermost tables on either side of the head table. Normally the ‘Irish’ would sit to the right, and the ‘Scottish’ to the left.
Ladies may sit within the ‘body’ of the festive board.
Unless the meal is served ‘buffet style’, Waiters and/or Stewards should be instructed by the Lodge’s Director of Ceremonies to always serve the head table first, followed by the English Grand Officers, the Acting District Grand Officers, Officers of the Irish Province and the Office-Bearers of the Scottish District.
It is necessary that the Toast List be checked by the Director of Ceremonies before the final printing, to ensure that it is free from errors. The proper wording of the Toast List can be obtained from the District Grand Secretary whenever there is doubt as to the manner of listing the several Toasts.
If the Toast list calls for a Toast to be proposed to ‘The Queen and the Craft’, the National Anthem is sung BEFORE the Toast is proposed. If the Toast is to the Queen, the Anthem is to be sung AFTER the Toast. If the National Anthem is sung after the Lodge has been closed, it is not necessary to sing it again at the festive board.
All guests should be advised that they may stand and join in any or all remaining Toasts – if they so desire.
The ‘taking of wine’ with individuals or groups, is perfectly in order once it is not taken to the ‘extreme’.
If the newly installed Master is proposing the Toasts, the Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge must rehearse with him beforehand, the correct wording and proper pronunciation of the names.
When the District Grand Master is in attendance for the after-proceedings of a Lodge under the English Constitution, he is referred to as “The Right Worshipful District Grand Master”, and not the “Right Worshipful District Grand Master of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands”.
The response to Toasts ending with ‘present and past’ is not ‘present and past’, but rather ‘The Grand Officers’ or ‘The District Grand Officers’.
In replying to a Toast, there is no need to preface one’s remarks by naming the leaders of delegations after the term ‘Worshipful Master’. All that is necessary is to say: ‘Worshipful Master and Brethren all’. If non-masons are present, it is courteous to say: ‘Worshipful Master, Brethren all, Ladies and Gentlemen’.
The question has been frequently asked about the propriety of proposing the Tyler’s Toast in the presence of non-masons. Especially for Lodges in rural areas, spouses and friends of Lodge members prepare the meal and arrange for its serving in open areas adjacent to the dining area. If the Tyler’s Toast is not to be proposed when non-masons are present, many Lodges would never give or hear this toast. The District has always permitted the Tyler’s Toast to be given in such circumstances, and the same holds for ‘Masonic Fire’.
In instances where a Ruler of the District (or an official representative) has to leave the after-proceedings immediately after the reply of the new Master, one of the District Grand Directors of Ceremonies would make an announcement to that effect immediately after said reply, thus providing a temporary hiatus in the proceedings and allowing for his orderly departure.
When the District Grand Master or his Representative is expected to visit a Lodge outside of Kingston, as a matter of courtesy the Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge should ensure that an appropriate parking space is reserved for him close to the building. In this way, his exit would not be blocked in the event he has to leave before the end of the proceedings.
Dr. Orrin Barrow, CD, CCH, JP, PJGD, PDistGDC
District of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands
CEREMONIAL TO BE OBSERVED WHEN A RULER MAKES AN OFFICIAL VISIT TO A REGULAR MEETING OF A PRIVATE LODGE
- When informing a Lodge Secretary of the intended visit of the RWDistGM, his Deputy, Assistant(s) or an Official Representative of the RWDistGM, the correspondence from the District Grand Secretary must include the procedure to be observed relating to his entrance into, and exit from, the Lodge. It will be that Brother’s responsibility to forward the information to the Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge.
- If the Official Visit will be to a Lodge that meets in a location other than Barbados Avenue, the District Grand Secretary must inform the Lodge Secretary of the Lodge ’s responsibility to provide a clearly identified reserved parking place for the vehicle transporting the DistGM.
- The District Grand Secretary must send to the RWDistGM, his Deputy or Assistant(s) (referred to hereafter as ‘Rulers’) or the Official Representative, a copy of the Summons and Agenda of the meeting(s) they plan to attend, at least one week before the scheduled date of the meeting(s).
- For all such occasions, a Ruler or the DistGM’s Official Representative will be accompanied by a District Director of Ceremonies.
- A chair at the eastern end of the seats in the north - with a wand stand stationed at its right - must be made available for the District Director of Ceremonies.
- The Ruler will determine beforehand at what stage of the proceedings he wishes to enter the Lodge, but it will invariably be when the Lodge is in the First Degree.
- Just prior to his entrance, the Lodge Tyler would be asked to announce the District Director of Ceremonies. This he does, using his full name, rank and title. The Inner Guard will report likewise as appropriate – “WM, W Bro ------- (Full name and honorific’s), The District (Grand, Deputy Grand/Assistant Grand/Escorting) Director of Ceremonies seeks admission”.
- After being admitted he would salute the Worshipful Master (with the wand in his left hand), transfer the wand to his right hand, announce the presence of the Ruler (or Official Representative) outside the door of the Lodge, and ask the brethren to remain seated.
- After a Court bow to the Worshipful Master the District Director of Ceremonies will retire from the Lodge, both doors of the room are opened, and shortly thereafter and from a position just outside of the doors, he will call the brethren “To Order” to receive the RWDistGM/DDistGM/ADistGM/Official Representative. The wording would be ‘-------- to receive the RWDistGM Walter Horatio Scott OR the DDistGM, VW Bro The Honourable Justice Patrick Anthony Brooks OR the ADistGM, W Bro Harding Overton Watler/W Bro Dr. Basil Anthony. Robinson OR the Official Representative (by name and rank)’.
- The District Director of Ceremonies would then re-enter the Lodge behind the Ruler, who will salute the Worshipful Master from a point close to his pedestal. The District Director of Ceremonies does not salute the Worshipful Master again, but stands behind the Ruler.
- The Ruler will approach the Worshipful Master and shake his hand.
- The Worshipful Master must always offer the gavel to a ‘Ruler’ which is always returned immediately, both using appropriate words.
- After the ‘Ruler’ is seated, the District Director of Ceremonies will go to his reserved chair at the eastern end of the front row in the north, place his wand in its stand, and from that position ask the brethren to salute the Ruler. He will then ask the brethren to be seated.
- The Ruler will reply appropriately.
- The Ruler would have informed the District Director of Ceremonies beforehand, at what stage of the meeting he wishes to retire from the Lodge.
- If it is to be before the Lodge is closed, the District Director of Ceremonies will stand at the appropriate time, give a court bow to the Worshipful Master, make the announcement, and then ask the brethren to be upstanding. The Ruler will then stand before the Worshipful Master, salute him, and retire from the Lodge by way of the north – followed by the District Director of Ceremonies.
- If the Ruler wishes to retire after the Lodge is closed, the initial procession is formed by the Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge according to their custom – either during or after the singing of the Closing Ode. The Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge must instruct the Wardens beforehand that after the procession halts in the SW, they must leave an appropriate space between themselves and the Officers in front of them (usually the Deacons) for the Worshipful Master and the Ruler.
- If it is the custom for a Lodge to sing the National Anthem at the end of proceedings, this must be done after the Closing Ode.
- After the first verse of the National Anthem is sung, the District Director of Ceremonies will make the following announcement:
- If the National Anthem is not sung, the above announcement is made after the procession formed by the Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge halts in the SW.
- When all are in position the District Director of Ceremonies – from the rear of the procession - will say: ‘Forward Brethren’.
“The Brethren will remain upstanding whilst the WM, accompanying the RWDistGM/DDistGM/ADistGM/Official Representative by name and rank (AND WAIT FOR THEM TO MOVE INTO POSITION with the Ruler/Official Representative on the right of the Worshipful Master); accompanied by his Wardens (wait for them to move into position if necessary); the Grand Officers (if any, and wait for them to move into position); the District Grand Officers (if any are seated in the east, and wait for them to move into position); and the Past Masters of the Lodge (and wait for them to move in to position) retire from the Lodge”.
There may be occasions when the RWDistGM will ask a Grand or District Grand Officer to OFFICIALLY represent him at a regular meeting of a Private Lodge.
On such an occasion, that brother will be accompanied by a District Director of Ceremonies and the same ‘ceremonial’ is to be used as if a Ruler was present, except that he is not offered the gavel.
A District Grand Officer is saluted as the District Grand Master’s representative by ALL PRESENT, including Grand Officers.
That Brother – even if he is ‘Junior in Rank’ to other brethren present – must be seated in the chair immediately to the right of the Brother presiding, and accorded the same courtesies as if a Ruler was present.
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