Masonic Ritual History

by MasterMason

History of Masonic Ritual dating back to the Establishment of
The United Grand Lodge of England 1n 1813.
a paper presented by Jacques Huyghebaert Past Master Lodge #2991 UGLE and refers to work conducted by W.Bro. John Hamill.

In its nearly 300 year old history the successive Grand Lodges in England have never officially sanctioned,  approved or sponsored any masonic ritual.
W. Bro John Hamill has identified over 50 different rituals existing in printed version used today by lodges under the English Constitution.
He states that there are many more rituals used by private lodges but for which is it difficult if not impossible to make an inventory as some rituals are worked by a single lodge only.

Over 20 different PRINTED craft rituals are on sale at the various Masonic regalia shops in Great Queen Street, at Grand Lodge itself (Letchworth’s) or through Lewis masonic

Every Brother can see for himself that the UGLE Book of Constitutions does not contain a single word stating which  rituals are authorized or defines how the ceremonies should be performed.  

The only reference I have found regarding ritual and ceremonies is in BoC Rule 155. UGLE

The members present at any Lodge duly summoned have an undoubted right to regulate their own proceedings, provided they are consistent with the general laws and regulations of the Craft; but a protest against any resolution or proceeding, based on the ground of its being contrary to the laws and usages of the Craft, and for the purpose of complaining or appealing to a higher Masonic authority, may be made, and such protest shall be entered in the Minute Book if the Brother making the protest shall so request.

Contrary to widespread belief “Emulation” working is not compulsory .  

The so-called official version the Emulation ritual is not approved by Grand Lodge., but by the Emulation Lodge of Improvement no. 256 E.C., which claims copyright over its content.  

The Emulation Lodge of Improvement was established in 1823 and is considered to be the foremost Lodge of Instruction in the English Constitution. It is and remains basically a voluntary association of lodges working Emulation, holding every Friday meetings of instruction at Great Queen Street, issuing guidelines and publishing a recommended (copyrighted) ritual.

Despite the will to adopt standardized rituals at the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, but in the absence of Grand Lodge officially approved rituals in England, ceremonies and workings have remained under the responsibility of the private lodges and have been subject to adjustments and changes which were introduced over the years.   This movement continues today.

For those interested in the present evolution of the masonic ritual, I recommend the last paper written by W. Bro John Hamill, PM of Quatuor Coronati Lodge and Director of Special Projects,  published in the Freemasonry Today, September 2013 issue entitled “The language of mystery” which considers whether the traditional words and phrases used in Freemasonry should be modernized to give greater clarity

Jacques Huyghebaert
PM 2991 EC

Comment        On occasion some enthusiastic Brethren enter into projects the intention of which is to return Lodges to their Ritual Roots or Standardize their Ritual against something which, in their opinion, would be an improvement.  My purpose in sharing this paper with you is to point out that no such Standardization exists in the oldest of all Grand Lodges of the UGLE, and never has.  With that in mind, surely the BEST ritual for a Lodge is that which has been developed over its own particular history & does not violate their own Grand Lodge Constitution in any way.

Have a wonderful Day & God Bless    V.W. Bro. Norman McEvoy



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