Masonic Degree Verse Within Freemason Degrees
"Ancient of Days"
This 1794 watercolor etching shows God applying the compasses to mankind, below.By William Blake
Which Pages of the Holy Book are Open During Degree Work?
Below, you will find the Masonic degree verse for each of the three degrees. If you wish to actively participate in degree work, you will need to memorize these passages for proficiency.
With a true understanding of the meaning of each Masonic degree verse, your memorization will not just be the memorization of huge blocks of ritual words by rote (without understanding them).
This removes much of the mysticism of each verse's actual meaning and makes it much easier to remember the words, once you understand what is truly being said within the context of its ongoing flow...especially the Masonic Degree Verse in the 3rd degree.
In play form, the Masonic Degree Verse inEcclesiastes can be acted out with gestures to enhance the experience andpromote the Masonic knowledge of your brothers.
Below is the Masonic Degree Verse foreach of the 3 degrees to which the Christian Bible is opened when performing each of these specific degrees and a discussion of its meaning.
These biblical verses illuminate the underlying meaning of each degree.
Entered Apprentice Degree
First Degree Verse
The square lies on top of the compasses (the oppositeconfiguration of a Master Mason's square and compasses.)
"Behold, how goodand how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like theprecious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments;
As the dew ofHermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life forever more."
Who was Aaron?
Aaron was Moses' brother, and thefirst High Priest under the Mosaic covenant.
Who was Hermon?
Well,...Hermon isn't a he.
Hermon is a mountain (or technically, a range of high mountains on the northernboundary of Israel. Mount Hermon's snowcapped peaks were a source of ice,aka (also known as) "Ice mountain". The Six-Day War not onlygave Israel control of Jerusalem, but also of the Mount Hermon area (GolanHeights).
Those whowalk in the ways of the LORD are rewarded the blessing of eternal life.
The Masonic degree verse of the EnteredApprentice Degree represents Youth, when the body is strong.
Fellow Craft Degree Verse
Second Degree Verse
An easy way to remember the configurationof the compasses atop the square is: Up North - Down South.(a plumbline).
This refers to the left-most leg of the compasses being on top of the square andthe right-most leg being under the square.
Amos, Chapter 7
"Thus he shewed (archaic word meaning "showed") me:and, behold, the LORD stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand.
And the LORD saidunto me, Amos, what seeest thou?
And I said, A plumbline.
Then said the LORD,
Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more."
This Masonic degree verse,... then, as now,denotes the LORD's plumbline which represents uprightness of conduct throughoutone's life.
The Fellow Craft degree denotes middle age.
Master Mason Degree Verse
Third Degree Verse
The Master Mason has learned to circumscribe his passions. (See thePoint Within a Circle.) Therefore, the compasses lie on top of thesquare.
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 12
"Remember now thyCreator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not,
nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say,
I have no pleasure in them;
While the sun, orthe light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened,
nor the clouds return after the rain:
In the day when thekeepers of the house shall tremble,
and the strong men shall bow themselves,
and the grinders cease because they are few,
and those that look out of the windows be darkened.
And the doors shallbe shut in the streets,
when the sound of the grinding is low,
and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird,
and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low;
Also when theyshall be afraid of that which is high
and fears shall be in the way,
and the almond tree shall flourish,
and the grasshopper shall be a burden,
and desire shall fail:
because man goeth to his long home,
and the mourners go about the streets:
Or ever the silvercord be loosed,
or the golden bowl be broken,
or the pitcher be broken at the fountain,
or the wheel broken at the cistern.
Then shall the dustreturn to the earth as it was:
and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
This Masonic degree verse found inEcclesiastes Chapter 12, describes the infirmities of age.
When a MasterMason degree, (or third degree) is being worked, the Holy Book is opened to thispassage in Ecclesiastes, which according to Jewish tradition, was written by King Solomon as a book of contemplation and his own personal self reflection.
What do these lines of Masonic Degree Verse actually mean?
Let's take a look at them again.
VERSE 1: YOUTH...Entered Apprentice
"Remember now thy Creator in the days ofthy youth": This alludes to the fact that as we grow older, each of usfondly remembers the glorious days of our youth when all things were possible.
With the hindsight of age and experience, advice is given to youth to "gatherthe harvest while they are young" because as we age, we change and are not ableto enjoy things with the same lightness of heart.
VERSE 2: MANHOOD...FellowCraft
"While the sun, or the light, or themoon, or the stars, be not darkened," refers to the fact that as wegrow older, our eyes begin to fail.
It is also an allegory to rememberingback to the time when life looked bright with promise before the "twilightyears" and "sunset years" of our lives.
"nor the clouds return after the rain:"Rest and recuperation take longer as we age.
VERSE 3: AGE...Master Mason
"In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble",refers to no longer being able to take care of yourself.
"and the strong men shall bow themselves" refers to the body's degenerationprocess and the inability to physically walk without stooping.
"and the grinders cease because they arefew," refers to the loss of teeth.
"and those that look out of the windowsbe darkened" refers to failing eyesight.
"And the doors shall be shut in thestreets" refers to no longer being able to hear the noisiness of life due todeafness.
"and he shall rise up at the voice ofthe bird," refers to aged people being unable to sleep and arising early.
"and all the daughters of musick shallbe brought low" refers to changes in the vocal chords which change and bringabout a coarser and less melodious quality to the voice.
"When they shall be afraid of that which is high, andfears shall be in the way."
Elderly people become unfamiliar with the speed of whichthe world changes. Also, as we become older, our reflex speed decreasesand things that we once tackled with abandon; we are now more cautious toattempt.
"And the almond tree shall flourish."
Almond trees have large, delicate, snow-white blossoms.Figuratively, this means that our hair turns to white.
"And the grasshopper shall be a burden."
When we are young, hope springs eternal. Thegrasshoppers that plagued the farmers were something to be dealt with bycompletely replanting the field, as a young man can withstand a total loss andlook forward to the hope of the following seasons.
However due to his decreasedenergies, an elderly farmer would find that the loss of an entire year's harvest(and all the work of replanting) to be a devastation and the elderly farmerwould not look upon the same issue as "lightly" as when he was a youth.
"And desire shall fail."
The dreams which take a long time to come to fruitionare not as desirous in the elderly as in youth because they know they do nothave the time to learn and work them to obtain the desired results. Thegradual decrease in physical desire also diminishes in both male and female.
"Or ever the silver chord be loosed, or the goldenbowl be broken."
The loosed silver cord is believed to denote the spinalcolumn and therefore the physical infirmities (stooped back) of age. Thegolden bowl is believed to denote the brain and the gradual decline of mentalpowers, which in dotage is described as senility.
"Or the pitcher be broken at the fountain."
Having a desire to urinate, but being unable to do so.
"Or the wheel broken at the cistern."
The body contains all its blood, (the cistern is full),but the heart's pumping action (the wheel) ceases.
"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was;and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
This last portion of the Masonic degree verse refers to "ashes to ashes, dust to dust", which arestill the words voiced when we inter (bury) the dead.
While this Master Mason, third degree Masonic degreeverse may seem unduly depressing to some, as it describes the deterioration ofeach individual part of the body; it accurately describes our journey throughlife and makes us ponder on our choices.
While it describes the deterioration of our physical"temple", and the passages of time which happen to each of us, we must rememberthat our ending is the same as our beginning.
The LORD created us, gave usHIS commandments of law and it is to him that we return...which is the finaltriumph...the one treasure in life that cannot be taken away.
If you have lived your life properly, old age is nolonger "the evil days", but becomes instead, reminiscent of theharvest...the love, the friendships, the experiences and the fond memories...
...the true cornucopia of receiving the "plenty". (A cornucopia is also known as the "Horn of plenty", which is emblematic of abundance.)
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