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Evidence

of a

Prototypical Royal

O

ne of the earliest references to offer components of masonic ritual reminiscent of the third degree is the Graham Manuscript, of 1726. Composed a mere nine years after the formation of the first Grand Lodge in England, the Graham manuscript includes a catechism with some interesting narrative recognizable to any worthy Mason of the contemporary Lodge. Much has been written about this manuscript with attention to it’s portrayal of subject matter potentially archetypal for the Third Degree as worked today, in the 21st Century. However, less remarked upon by Masonic scholars are references reminiscent of workings of the Royal Arch degree, thereby suggestive that a prototypical third degree (or raising) was inextricably linked with the communication of what is now known as the Royal Arch degree.

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Rocky Mountain Mason


Arch

as Part of the

Earliest

3

rd

Degree

How the 18th Century Graham Manuscript, long a prototype for the 3rd degree, makes explicit referencesto material now associated with the Royal Arch degree....

The Graham manuscript clearly sets forth precepts still used in Lodge today. The first question, From whence came you? should be recognizable to any Mason. References to God and St. John follow throughout. There is a consistent Christian thread throughout which should not be overlooked; the origin, no doubt, of the dedicatory premise of our modern Lodges. I’ve cited some of the manuscript below, where particularly relevant to modern Masonic workings. You may perhaps recognize the ancestry to our own work today. Rocky Mountain Mason

From whence came you?

I came from a right worshipful Lodge of Masters and fellows belonging to God and holy saint John who doth greet all true and perfect brothers of our holy secrets so do I you if I find you to be one.

I greet you well brother craving your name – Answer J and the other is to say his is B.1

1. The initials of “J” and “B” should be familiar to anyone who has stood on the porch of the Temple.

How shall I know you are a free Mason? By true word, signs, and tokens from my entering.

How were you made a free Mason? By a true and perfect Lodge.

What is a perfect Loge?

The center of a true heart.

How came you into the Lodge? Poor and penniless, blind and ignorant of our secrets.

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What posture did you pass your oath in? I was neither sitting, standing, going, running, riding, hinging, nor flying, naked, nor clothed, shod, nor barefoot.

What were you sworn to?

For to hale and conceal our secrets.

What other tenets did your oath carry? My second was to obey God and all true Squares made or send from a brother, my third was never to steal lest I should offend God and shame the square, my fourth was never to commit adultery with a brother’s wife nor tell him a willful lie, my fifth was to desire no unjust revenge of a brother but love and relieve him when it’s in my power it not hurting myself too far.

I pass you have been in a Lodge yet I demand how many lights belong to a Lodge? I answer 12.

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What are they?

The first 3 jewels [are] Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; Sun, Moon, Master Mason; square, rule, plumb; line, mall, and chisel.

I pass you entered, yet I demand if you were raised? Yes I was.

There is more, but space here is limited. The catechism ends with a description of Shem, Ham, and Japheth searching for the secrets Noah purportedly brought with him from the antediluvian world. This leads them to Noah’s grave where they seek to raise the body. Shem, ham, and Japheth2 [went to] their father, Noah’s, grave for to try if they could find anything about him for to lead them to the veritable secret which this famous preacher had, for I hope all will allow that all things needful for the new world was in the ark with Noah. Now these three men had already agreed that if they did 2. Royal Arch Masons should recognize the importance of these names when passing the veils.

not find the very thing itself that the first thing that they found was to be to them as a secret then not doubting but did most firmly believe that God was able and would also prove willing through their faith, prayer, and obedience for to cause what they did find for to prove as veritable to them as if they had received the secret at first from God Himself at its headspring, so came to the grave finding nothing save the dead body almost consumed away taking a grip at a finger it came away so from joint to joint so to the wrist so to the elbow so they reared up the dead body and supported it setting foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, cheek to cheek, and hand to back, and cried out, “help O father,” as if they had said, “O father of heaven help us now for our Earthly father cannot,” so laid down the dead body again and not knowing what to do – so one said here is yet marrow in this bone and the second said but a dry bone and third said it stinketh so they agreed for to give it a name as is known in free masonry to this day…

Rocky Mountain Mason


With this word, which they appropriated as placeholder for the secrets lost, enough faith was created that the true secrets were revealed, as it were, in silence – in the reverent space this chosen word, now hallowed, created for the influx of holy knowledge. Henceforth, “works stood” – that is, buildings (and other endeavors, perhaps) were true, square, and level, and withstood the agency of “infernal and squandering spirits”. The narrative then turns to Bezaliel,3 who was born with an inspired understanding of the secret “titles” and “pallies”4 of the Godhead. At this point it is worth observing two things. First, that the raising of Noah5 was performed on the five points of fellowship, and therefore the word adopted at the grave must only be communicable between two people, one person at a time. (It is perhaps significant also for Christians adopting the Old Testament legitimacy as Beni Noah6.) Second, we must remark on the introduction of Bezaliel, who is significant in modern workings of the Royal Arch degree. However, the main reference that appears reminiscent of modern Royal Arch rituals is the phraseology of “a treble voice” applied to the utterance of some secret knowledge. The word “treble” means “threefold”, not the choral designation of an unbroken male voice of the upper register. The first reference to this “treble voice” is in the catechism early on: 3. The attentive reader will note Bezaliel was the chief artisan of the Tabernacle, who under the supervision of Moses, with the assistance of Aholiab, built the Ark of the Covenant wherein were deposited the book of the Law, the pod of Manna, Aaron’s rod, and the tables of stone on which was the Decalogue written by the finger of God. 4. Could be plural of “pally”, adjective meaning friendly, and thus signify familiarity with angelic forces believed to be in the control of enlightened man. Bezaliel is mentioned repeatedly throughout modern workings of the Royal Arch Degree as practiced in the U.S. 5. This is in line with Masonic scholarship on the subject, holding that the Noachite rite was precedent to the Hiramic legend of later workings. The Allied Masonic Degrees still harbor the Noachite Rite. 6. That is “sons of Noah”, an epithet applied by Jews to non-Jews who remain holy in the eyes of God. Rocky Mountain Mason

our articles. Wherefore it appears evident that having been entered, passed, and raised, the secrets were discovered by consent of a Lodge “obtained by a treble voice”. This cannot be the communication of the word upon the five points of fellowship, as illustrated at the graveside, and conferred man to man. The second place this phrase, “treble voice”, is mentioned is in regards to the Master – one of the lights of the Lodge:

What are they [the 12 jewels]? What did you see in Lodge when you did see? I saw truth the world and Justice and brotherly Love.

Where?

Before me.

What was behind you?

Perjury and hatred of brotherhood forever if I discover our secrets without the consent of a Lodge, except that have obtained a treble voice by being entered, passed, and raised and conformed by 3 several Lodges and not so except I take the party sworn to be true to

The first 3 jewels [are] Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; Sun, Moon, Master Mason; square, rule, plumb; line, mall, and chisel.

Prove all these proper.

As for the blessed trinity they afford reason; as for the sun, he renders Light day and night; as for the Moon, she is a dark body of water and doth receive her Light from the sun, and is also queen of waters, which is the best of levels; as for the Master mason, he teaches the trade and ought to have a treble voice in teaching of our secrets if he be a bright man because we do believe into a super oratory power for although the 70 had great power yet the 11 had more for they chose Matthias in place of Judas;7 as for square, rule, plumb, line, mall and chisel, they are six tools that no mason can perform true work without the major part of them.

The third (and last) reference to a “treble voice” is more clear and definitive, which appears to reference the sounding of a trisyllabic word of resounding virtue: … then was born Bezaliel who was so called of God before conceived in the [womb] and this holy man knew by inspiration that the secret 7. The 11 referred to here is clearly the disciples after the death (or suicide) of Judas and the election, by lots, of Matthias. The “70 had great power”, however, appears (at least to me) inconclusive in this context. 35


titles and primitive pallies of the Godhead was preservative, and he built on them in so much that no infernal squandering spirit durst presume to shake his handiwork so his works became so famous while the two younger brothers of the aforesaid king Abloyin8 desired for to be instructed by him his noble science by which he wrought, to which he agreed conditionally they were not to discover it without another to themselves to make a treble voice so they entered oath and he taught them the theory and practical part of masonry and they did work. Then was masons wages called up in that realm, then was masons numbered with kings and princes yet near to the death of Bezaliel he desired to be buried in the valley of Jehosaphat and have [carved] over him according to his deserving which was performed by these two princes and this was [carved] as follows: Here lies the flower of masonry, superior of many other, companion to a king and to princes, a brother, here lies the heart all secrets could conceal, here lies the tongue that never did reveal. Significant in the above is mention of holiness “preservative” of edifices and structures erected by Bezaliel, that two princes came to learn of his divine science but were instructed to find another person (to make three) and thus “make a treble voice”. Only after having a third person with whom to render the “treble voice” did Bezaliel impart the secrets of speculative and operative Craft masonry. This is 8. In the short time required to prepare this article for this publication, the author regretfully was unable to discover the king to whom this name refers.

36

contrary to the secret raised at Noah’s graveside by his three sons. The chronology of the chosen narrative, Noah – who yielded secrets from the antediluvian world – and then Bezaliel seems to suggest a chronology of raising, then the secret imparted by the “treble voice”. The one is the substitute (Shem, Ham, and Japheth agree to accept whatever they find first at the graveside, much like Solomon in the third degree today), the other the true word communicable in a treble voice. As is imparted in the lecture of the Royal Arch Degree today, the Great and Ineffable Name of God was so powerful it was never spoken except in solemn ceremonies and with the greatest of reverence. The Ineffable Name has long been held in legend to bestow mighty power upon the utterer – the ground shook when the High Priest uttered it three times on the day of atonement in the sanctuary of the tabernacle. To take the Ineffable name in vain was a sin; desecrating the Holy Word could divorce it of its power – because the word was set apart (the word “Holy” in Hebrew is etymologically linked to the verb to “set aside”). To take the Lord’s name in vain is still frowned upon, significantly in both the Order of the High Priesthood for Past Excellent High Priests and the Rite of Perfection in the Scottish Rite. The sanctity the word required meant it could not be spoken, except in the most proper and emergent of situations. Therefore, the rendering of the Name in three, by three, was arguably undertaken for the purposes of instruction, to intone and thus invoke the indwelling of Deity. When this act was performed with the due sanctity, and the specialness secrecy was meant to impart, the effect must have been profound. While there is nothing definitive in ritualistic terms we can point to in the Graham manuscript indicative of the Royal Arch degree as we know it today, the cloth from which the degree was cut

is clearly being stitched upon the loom of early Craft masonry. It is also pertinent to note that the Royal Arch, when it was properly codified in the mid-18th Century, was accessible only to Past Masters of a Lodge – a caveat still operative today by virtue of the “virtual past master’s degree” in the Capitular Rite. There are other references to material now peculiar to the Royal Arch Degree from 17th and 18th Century literature on the subject,9 but we will have to leave those for another time. Suffice it to say, though, material now practiced as the Royal Arch degree remains historically some of the most influential and important teachings formative of the Craft.

9. The author, though bound to secrecy on the actual particulars, has it on good authority (sworn by a most worthy companion whose word is well respected worldwide) that there exists in Scotland, in possession of a dignitary there, formation papers of a Grand Chapter dating to no later than the 16th Century.

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Royal arch in graham mss  

Article from issue 2.3 of the Rocky Mountain Mason. Subscribe at http://rockymountainmason.com/subscribe-2/

Royal arch in graham mss  

Article from issue 2.3 of the Rocky Mountain Mason. Subscribe at http://rockymountainmason.com/subscribe-2/

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