Webb's Masonic Monitor
Thomas Smith Webb,
CEREMONY OF LAYING THE
FOUNDATION STONES OF PUBLIC STRUCTURES
THIS ceremony is conducted by the M. W.
Grand Master and his officers, assisted by such officers and members of
subordinate Lodges as can conveniently attend. The chief magistrate, and
other civil officers of the place where the building is to be erected,
also generally attend on the occasion.
At the time appointed, the Grand Lodge is
convened in some suitable place. A band of martial music is provided, and
the brethren appear in the insignia of the Order.
The Lodge is then opened by the Grand
Master, and the rules for regulating the procession are read by the Grand
Secretary. The Lodge is then adjourned; after which the procession sets
out in due form, in the following order:
Procession at Laying
Two Tylers with drawn Swords;
Tyler of the oldest Lodge with a drawn Sword;
Two Stewards of the oldest Lodge;
Past Junior Wardens;
Past Senior Wardens;
Royal Arch Masons;
Grand Tyler with a drawn Sword;
Grand Stewards with white Rods;
A Past Master with a Golden Vessel containing Corn;
Principal Architect with Square, Level and Plumb;
Two Past Masters with Silver Vessels, one containing
Wine, and the other Oil;
Grand Secretary and Treasurer;
The Five Orders;
One large light, borne by a Past Master;
The Holy Bible, Square and Compasses,
borne by a Master of a Lodge,
supported by two Stewards on the right and left;
Two large Lights, borne by two Past Masters;
Clergy and Orator;
Deputy Grand Master;
The Master of the oldest Lodge,
carrying the Book of Constitutions on a velvet cushion;
Grand Deacons with black Rods, on a line seven feet apart;
Two Stewards with white Rods;
Grand Sword-bearer with a drawn Sword.
A Triumphal Arch is usually erected at the
place where the ceremony is to be performed. The procession passes through
the arch; and the brethren repairing to their stands, the Grand Master and
his officers take their places on a temporary platform, covered with
carpet. The Grand Master commands silence. An Ode on Masonry is sung;
after which, the necessary preparations are made for laying the
stone, on which is engraved the year of
Masonry, the name and title of the Grand Master, etc., etc.
The stone is raised up, by means of an
engine erected for that purpose, and the Grand Chaplain or Orator repeats
a short prayer.
The Grand Treasurer, then, by the Grand
Master's command, places under the stone various sorts of coin and medals
of the present age. Solemn music is introduced, and the stone is let down
into its place.
The principal architect then presents the
working tools to the Grand Master, who applies the plumb, square,
and level to the stone, in their proper positions, and pronounces
it to be WELL FORMED, TRUE, and TRUSTY.
The golden and silver vessels are next
brought to the table and delivered; the former to the Deputy Grand Master,
and the latter to the Grand Wardens, who successively present them to the
Grand Master; and he, according to ancient ceremony, pours the corn, the
wine, and the oil which they contain on the stone, saying:
"May the all-bounteous Author of Nature
bless the inhabitants of this place with all the necessaries,
conveniences, and comforts of this life; assist in the erection and
completion of this building; protect the workmen against every accident,
long preserve this structure from decay;
and grant to us all a supply of the CORN of nourishment, the WINE
of refreshment, and the OIL of joy!
"Amen. So mote it be."
He then strikes the stone thrice with the
mallet; and the public grand honors are given. *) The Grand Master
then delivers over to the Architect the various implements of
architecture, intrusting him with the superintendence and direction of the
work; after which he reascends the platform, and an oration suitable to
the occasion is delivered.
A voluntary collection is made for the
needy workmen; and the sum collected is placed upon the stone by the Grand
A suitable song in honor of Masonry
concludes the ceremony; after which, the procession returns to the place
whence it set out, and the Lodge is closed in due form.
The fourth section contains the ceremony
observed at the Dedication of Freemasons' Halls.
On the day appointed, the Grand Master and
his officers, accompanied by the members of the Grand Lodge, meet in a
convenient room near the place
*) Grand Honors, see p. 143
where the ceremony is to be performed, and
open in due and ample form, in the third degree of Masonry.
The Master of the Lodge to which the Hall
to be dedicated belongs, being present, addresses the Grand Master as
The brethren of -- Lodge, being animated with a desire of promoting the
honor and interest of the Craft, have, at great pains and expense,
erected a Masonic Hall for their convenience and accommodation. Thy are
now desirous that the same should be examined by the M. W. GRAND LODGE;
and if it meet their approbation, that it should be solemnly dedicated
to Masonic purposes, agreeably to ancient form.
The Grand Master then directs the Grand
Marshal to form the procession, when they move forward to the Hall to be
dedicated. On entering, the music will continue, while the procession
marches three times round the hall.
The carpet or flooring is then placed in
the center; and the Grand Master having taken the chair, under a canopy of
state, the Grand Officers, and the Masters and Wardens of the Lodges
repair to the places
previously prepared for their reception.
The three Lights, and the Gold and Silver Pitchers, with the corn, wine,
and oil, are placed round the Lodge, at the head of which stands the
Altar, with the Holy Bible open, and the Square and Compasses laid
thereon, with the Charter, Book of Constitutions, and By-laws.
An Anthem is sung, and an Exordium on
Masonry given; after which the Architect addresses the Grand Master as
Having been entrusted with the superintendence and management of the
workmen employed in the erection of this edifice; and having, according
to the best of my ability, accomplished the task assigned me, I now
return my thanks for the honor of this appointment, and beg leave to
surrender up the implements which were committed to my care when the
foundation of this fabric was laid; humbly hoping that the exertions
which have been made on this occasion, will be crowned with your
approbation, and that of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge.
To which the Grand Master makes the
The skill and fidelity displayed in the execution of the trust reposed
in you, at the commencement of this undertaking, have secured the
approbation of the Grand Lodge; and they sincerely pray that this
edifice may continue a lasting monument of the taste, spirit, and
liberality of its founders.
An Ode in honor of Masonry is sung,
accompanied with instrumental music.
The Deputy Grand Master then rises and
The hall in which we are now assembled, and the plan upon which it has
been constructed, having met with your approbation, it is the desire of
the Fraternity that it should now be dedicated according to ancient form
Whereupon a procession is formed in the
following order, viz:
A Past Master with a Light;
A Past Master with a Bible, Square, and Compasses,
on a velvet cushion;
Two Past Masters, each with a Light;
Grand Secretary and Treasurer with Emblems;
Grand Junior Warden with Pitcher of Corn;
Grand Senior Warden with Pitcher of Wine;
Deputy Grand Master with Pitcher of Oil;
Two Stewards with Rods;
All the other brethren keep their places,
and assist in performing an Ode, which continues during the procession,
excepting only at the intervals of dedication. The Carpet being uncovered,
the first time passing round it, the Grand Junior Warden presents the
Pitcher of Corn to the Grand Master, who pours it out upon the Lodge, at
the same time pronouncing:
"In the name of the Great JEHOVAH, to
whom be all honor and glory, I do solemnly dedicate this Hall to
[The grand honors are given.]
The second time passing round the Lodge,
the Grand Senior Warden presents the Pitcher of Wine to the Grand Master,
who sprinkles it upon the Carpet, at the same time saying:
"In the name of the HOLY SAINTS JOHN, I
do solemnly dedicate this Hall to VIRTUE."
[The grand honors are twice given.]
The third time passing round the Lodge, the
Deputy Grand Master presents the Grand Master with the Pitcher of Oil, who
pours it upon the Carpet, saying:
"In the name of the whole Fraternity, I
do solemnly dedicate this Hall to UNIVERSAL BENEVOLENCE."
[The grand honors are thrice given.]
A solemn Invocation is made to the Throne
of Grace by the Grand Chaplain, and an Anthem sung; after which the Carpet
is covered, and the Grand Master retires to his Chair.
An Oration is then delivered, and the
ceremonies conclude with music. The Grand Lodge is then closed in due or