York Rite Sovereign College of North America
Ritual of Knight of York
Candidates may be seated in room prior to opening and observe opening of college.
Knights and Officers march in and take their stations.
Gov.: Eminent Chancellor, send forth the call for assembly, that our College may begin its labors.
Chn.: Sir Knights and Secret Princes, draw near and assemble, that your works may be judged, your qualities determined, and order prevail throughout the Craft. Noble Marshal, establish the bounds of this College and secure our Assembly.
Mar. traverses pentagon, returning to station: Eminent Chancellor, the bounds of this College are established and our assembly is secure.
Chn.: Pre-eminent Governor, all is in order.
Gov.: Noble Seneschal, are you and all here assembled Knights of York?
Sen.: We have accomplished our appointed tasks and received therefor a white rose.
Gov.: What is your age, as a Knight of York?
Sen.: Thirty-two, representing the twenty-five years of preparation and seven years of apprenticeship served by him who founded this College.
Guy.: Noble Preceptor, what are the form and bounds of this College?
Pre.: The form of this College is a pentagon, bounded by the qualities of zeal, harmony, knowledge, aspiration and self-discipline, which are the guide and support of every true Knight of York.
Gov.: All is in order. Noble Preceptor, attend at the altar. ***.
Prc. approaches altar, opens Bible to 25th Psalm, places pentagon thereupon, salutes. Governor, returns to station.
Gov.: Noble Primate, lead us in our devotions.
Prt. kneels at altar: Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in thee; let me nor be ashamed, let not mine enemies triumph over me. Yea, let none that wait on thee be ashamed; let them be ashamed which transgress without cause. Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me; for thou are the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Amen. Returns to station.
Gov.: Noble Seneschal, display the flag of our country.
Sen. approaches East, receives flag from Deputy Governor, about face.
Gov.: Together, Companion Knights, salute the flag. All salute. Return right.
Sen. replaces flag, returns to station.
Gov.: To the greater glory of God, in the name of our Blessed Redeemer, and by virtue of the authority vested in my office by the York Rite Sovereign College of North America. I now declare this York Rite College duly assembled and opened for such labors as may be its proper concern.
Prologue may be given by the Preceptor at this point or just prior to Section Second.
Guard presents candidate at inner door and knocks ***** *.
Sen.: Pre-eminent Governor, there is an alarm of five and one at the entrance of this College.
Gov.: Noble Seneschal, ascertain who knocks in this manner and for what purpose.
Sen. goes out and returns: Pre-eminent Governor, the alarm was caused by a Brother of the York Rite, who knocked five times to signify that he has accomplished the five appointed tasks, and knocked once again to signify his willingness to undertake further labors.
Gov.: Eminent Deputy Governor, take charge of this college while I retire and present the aspirant, that his works may be judged and his qualities determined.
Gov. is veiled by D.G. and Chan. retires and conducts candidate to altar: Eminent Deputy Governor, this Brother of the York Rite presents himself as an aspirant to membership in our College. He has accomplished the five appointed tasks, and declares himself ready to undertake whatever additional labors may be required.
D.G.: Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun? Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. Except as ye have found wisdom and understanding therein, thine accomplishments are naught to us.
Chn.: Doth not wisdom cry? And understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man. O ye simple, understand wisdom; and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. Receive
my instructions, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are nor to be compared to it.
Gov.: If my brethren know me not, and bear no testimony, I am unworthy. Clockwise to Marshal’s station.
Mar.: Eminent Deputy Governor, I preceive and acknowledge that this aspirant is a Master Mason. He has accomplished five years of warfare, and has returned from the battlefields of life a valiant defender of the weak and oppressed, girt with strength and fortitude, and full of zeal for the Craft.
Gov. clockwise to Seneschal’s station.
Sen.: Eminent Deputy Governor I preceive and acknowledge that this aspirant is a Royal Arch Mason. He has accomplished five years of social communion, and has returned from the cities and nations of men imbued with a sense of justice, a love of beauty, ardent affection for his fellow-beings, and a desire to attain harmony in all relationships.
Gov. clockwise to Preceptor.
Pre.: Eminent Deputy Governor, I preceive and acknowledge that this aspirant is a Select Master. He has accomplished five years of study, and has returned from the high places of the earth with keener perception, wisdom to comprehend the meaning of things seen, a love of truth, and a store of knowledge which he shares with all who may profit thereby.
Gov. clockwise to Primate.
Prt.: Eminent Deputy Governor, I perceive and acknowledge that this aspirant is a Knight Templar. He has accomplished five years of contemplation, and has returned from the sanctuary of his own Spirit with reverence for the Supreme Architect and all that He hath fashioned, faith in the promise of our Blessed Redeemer, hope for immortality, and aspiration for the attainment of his utmost capability, even unto the Eternal and Infinite.
Gov. clockwise to East.
Chan.: Eminent Deputy Governor, I perceive and acknowledge that this aspirant is a Brother of the York Rite. He has accomplished five years of poverty, and has returned from the waste places of adversity with patience to endure all things, prudence to moderate zeal, temperance to circumscribe his every thought, word and deed, and self-discipline to regulate and govern his entire existence.
Gov. clockwise to altar.
D.C.: All is in order. You have labored diligently, and great has been your reward. What is it that you now desire?
Gov.: To be admitted to this College, that I may assemble with my brethren, and with them labor perpetually to the end that order may prevail throughout the Craft.
D.C.: Your desire is indeed worthy. Kneel at the altar, that you may be dedicated to the high purpose to which you now aspire. ***.
Prt.: As the eyes of a son to his father, so are my eyes, O Lord, at all times towards thee. For with thee are my consolations and my delight. Turn not away thy mercies from me, O Lord; and rake not thy kindness from me. Stretch out to me, O Lord, at all times thy right hand, and be my guide even unto the end, according to thy good pleasure. Amen.
D.C.: In the preceding degrees it was necessary that you submit to a rite of purification before engaging upon the task appointed; but no man has the power to cleanse you for your present undertaking. You will, therefore, retire into the sanctuary of your own heart and listen to the voice of conscience in silence: that guided by it, you may reach the goal of your aspirations. Then signify your readiness to proceed by saying "Amen".
D.C., *: My Brother, the request you have made of us is nor lightly granted. Are you willing to undertake such additional labor as may be required?
Cand.: I am.
D.C.: What is your age?
Gov.: Five times five years.
D.G.: Agreeably to an ancient regulation. I now enjoin upon you seven years of apprenticeship, during which time you will assist some fellow-creature in his search for light, being guided and supported by the five indispensable qualities of zeal, harmony. knowledge, aspiration, and self-discipline. You may now rise and pursue your undertaking.
Gov. conducts Cand. out of College. Officers retire and robe for second section.
York 926 A.D.
At this point, while Officers are robing, the Prologue may be given, by the Preceptor. Candidate will be returned to the College during the presentation of the Prologue anti may remain in the College to watch portrayal until needed to enter with Prince Edwin.
Knights enter and form double line in western half of room. Guards enter and stand on either side of the ‘Throne’ in the East. Groups of Craftsmen enter and stand in informal groups in South. Herald enters and announces entering of each member of the nobility by their title. Nobility rake their places in the East as they are announced.
LCh. rises: Milords, Christian Knights and Craftsmen—on this sixth day of the week you are once again called to assemble by order of our gracious sovereign Athelstan, King of all England. Draw near arid attend while Milord Archbishop offers prayer.
LAB.: Father of all, we implore Thy blessing on our present assembly. Guide our thoughts arid assist in our deliberations. Grant us unity of purpose and show us the path wherein we may walk in common accord, that order may prevail. In the Name of our Blessed Redeemer. Amen.
Ath.: Worthy Craftsmen and Sir Knights, I have called you together m assembly from every part of the kingdom. You have built for us many great works; castles, and abbeys, and other noble structures. Therefore, have I come to love this Craft full well. and have resolved to strengthen and prosper in it every way possible. I have deemed it necessary that rules should be established by which the Craft may be governed and regulated. to the end that order may prevail. not be whim of man, but by virtue and well-founded law and principle. For five days you have counseled together to discover that in which all may agree, and I am eager to hear that which has been accomplished.
Ovs.: Preeminent Sovereign, agreeable to your orders we have gathered in this place, traveling from every corner of the kingdom. For five full days have we met together and labored diligently to reach an accord, as was your desire; but it now appears that our efforts have been in vain, for there s little indeed in which all can agree. Therefore, we ask your permission to return to our homes and families and to resume our various occupations.
Ath.: At your words, my heart grows heavy within me. What circumstance has led to this confusion and lack of agreement?
Ovs.: Preeminent Sovereign, among those here assembled are Craftsmen who acquired their knowledge of our arts and sciences in many foreign lands; and there are those bearing allegiance to each diverse order and body of our Craft. Each is jealous of his peculiar secrets, and vows that his arts alone are preeminent. None will yield, nor scarcely even share that which he has learned, save with a few of like allegiance.
Ath.: Knight Commander, have the Christian Knights met in council with the Craftsmen, and have nor the knightly virtues of humility and toleration sufficed to make possible an understanding and common agreement?
KCm.: Preeminent Sovereign, it is even as the Overseer has said. It would seem that many Craftsmen take pride in differences and thereby attribute distinction to themselves. As for us, we are Knights and they are Craftsmen, and there is but little common experience to share between us. In this entire assembly there is no man to speak to all with understanding and authority.
Ath.: My mind is sorely troubled by your report. Sir Knights and Craftsmen, withdraw for a time, that I may consider this unhappy turn of events.
Knights and Craftsmen retire.
Ath.: Lords and Nobles, how sad to find such confusion in a Craft founded upon principles of order and design! The goal we seek is worthy of attainment, but the path thereto is obscured. How shall we proceed?
LMy.: Preeminent Sovereign, the behavior of every free. men in your kingdom is circumscribed and regulated by the Law, thereby ensuring equitable treatment for all, and the well-being of our communities. I beg you, declare that these Craftsmen shall be completely subservient to Civil Law and Authority, and order will prevail of necessity.
LGC.: Preeminent Sovereign, are we not concerned here with more than mere orderly behavior and social intercourse? It would appear that these Craftsmen inculcate and practice high ideals and noble qualities of character — true knightly virtues, indeed. I say, let this Craft become a part of the Order of Christian Knighthood, and the end you seek will surely be attained.
LPc.: Preeminent Sovereign, I fear that we have nor yet touched upon the true source of difficulty. Did not the Overseer say that the Craftsmen had acquired their arts and sciences from many sources, and that each was jealous of his knowledge and vowed that his peculiar arts were preeminent? Issue your decree that henceforth every Craftsman must receive his training from our established Institutions of learning, and, in time, discord will vanish and harmony abound.
LAB: Preeminent Sovereign, with such counsel I cannot agree. We have heard that these Craftsmen are much concerned with right living, moral obligations, and spiritual aspirations. Are not such matters the province of the Church? And in these things should not the Church rule and govern, lest heresy and false doctrine spread throughout the kingdom?
LCh.: Preeminent Sovereign, the Knight Commander has said that there was in the entire assembly no man to speak with authority to all concerned. Surely the King is source and root of all authority. In your wisdom determine, and by your authority decree, in what manner this Craft shall be regulated and governed, and it shall so be! What man can dispute, and what man then disobey? Thus shall all be in order, and your purpose fulfilled.
Ath.: Lords and Nobles, I have heard your counsel and found much of merit therein. Civil, military, academic, ecclesiastical, and kingly authority must be acknowledged and obeyed, each in its proper sphere. And yet, if this Craft is to prosper and accomplish its high purpose, external authority cannot be imposed by decree. True harmony and accord must be founded upon accepted principles and mutual agreement. This is the end we seek, but the path we must travel is hidden from my sight.
Knight Commander enters and salutes.
KCm.: Preeminent Sovereign, word has come that Prince Edwin has returned to England and is even now on his way to York, attended by a noble companion.
Ath.: Send forth an escort, that he may join us without hindrance of delay.
Knight Commander salutes and retires.
Ath.: Lords and Nobles, rejoice with me in this happy hour. For seven years my son, Edwin, has travelled in foreign lands, that he might increase in knowledge and worldly wisdom, and be thereby better prepared to assume responsibilities befitting his noble birth. Little word have I had as to his progress, and I am most desirous to see what God hath wrought with him.
Edwin enters, accompanied by two knights and candidate.
Edw.: Noble Father, by God’s leave and the assistance of this noble companion, I have journeyed far and have now returned to England and to my Father and King. I acknowledge and do thee homage as Preeminent Sovereign and King of all England, and beg leave to return to a place in thy household and in thy affections.
Ath.: Your request is granted, not could it be otherwise. I have long awaited this hour, and am well pleased to note that, departing as a youth, you have returned as a man, of noble stature and regal bearing. This reunion, my son, is doubly welcome on this day of perplexity and vexatious decision.
Edw.: I perceive, my father, that you are distressed of mind, and beg you reveal to me this difficulty, that I may share in your troubles as well as in your joys.
Ath.: A true son indeed; so may it be. You must know that there exists in England, as in many lands, a Craft of Builders and Masons. They have served us well in every part of the kingdom, and are highly regarded for their great works, knightly virtues, and laudable ideals. Loving this Craft full well, and desiring to strengthen and prosper it, I have assembled the Craftsmen and Christian Knights, that we might determine in what manner the Craft might be regulated and governed. Five days of deliberations have effected naught but to reveal, on this sixth day, that agreement is still afar off.
Edw.: Your words astonish me. 1 know something of this Craft and would have anticipated a speedy accord.
Ath.: Even so. And yet it now appears that the Craft comprises many orders and diverse bodies, professing various philosophies, arts and sciences. Some here assembled hold to the one, and some to another, and there is none who will yield preeminence to any save that of his Own allegiance.
Edw.: My father, I ask leave to assist in this undertaking. During my travels, many mysteries have been revealed to me. I have been received into numerous orders and bodies of the Craft and have found much profit therein. Distinctions and differences there are, indeed, but these rest upon certain indispensable qualities and underlying principles common to all. With your permission, and with Divine guidance and assistance, I would meet with the Craftsmen and Sir Knights, address them as Brothers, and seek the path of mutual accord.
Ath.: Go, then; and Cod be with you.
Edwin, candidate and escort retire.
Ath.: Lords and Nobles, if this undertaking be happily concluded, Prince Edwin shall receive suitable reward and preferment. I ask your counsel; how do you assess his qualities?
LMy.: Preeminent Sovereign, he appears to be a man of fortitude and full of real. May he be equal to the task at hand!
LGC.: Preeminent Sovereign, he desires to be of service to his fellows and seeks to attain harmony with justice. Surely, these qualities are indispensable.
LPc.: Preeminent Sovereign, from the experience and knowledge he has acquired he has derived wisdom and understanding to perceive unity of purpose in diversity of expression.
LAB.: Preeminent Sovereign, he seems to me a man of high aspirations, eager to use that with which he has been endowed for the greater glory of God.
LCh.: Preeminent Sovereign, if he be successful in his mission, then I say he must be patient in spirit, prudent in counsel, and temperate in speech, well meriting your trust and our continued respect.
Knights enter, followed by Craftsmen, escort, candidate, and Edwin — carrying scroll.
Edw.: Preeminent Sovereign and Esteemed Sire, we have established fifteen articles and fifteen points on which all may agree and by which the Craft may henceforth be governed. Harmony prevails and all is in order.
Edwin reads the 15 Articles and 15 Points.
I.: The Master Mason must be steadfast, trusty and true and render perfect justice l.a both workman and his employer.
2.: The Master Mason shall be punctual in his attendance at the general congregation or assembly.
3.: The Master must take no apprentices for less than seven years.
4.: The Master must take no apprentices who are bondsmen, but only such as are free and well born.
5.: The Master shall not employ a thief or maimed man for an apprentice, but only those who are physically fit.
6.: The Master most not take craftsmen’s wages for apprentices wages.
7.: The Master must not employ an immoral person.
8.: The Master must maintain a standard of efficiency by nut permitting incompetent workmen to be employed.
9.: The Master most not undertake to do work which he cannot complete.
10.: No Master shall supplant another in the work undertaken.
11..: The Master shall not cause the Mason to work at night except in pursuit of knowledge.
12.: The Master must instruct his apprentices in everything they are capable of learning.
13.: No Mason shall speak evil of his fellow’s work.
14.: The Master shall take no apprentices for whom he has nor sufficient labor.
15.: The Master is not to make false representations nor compromise the sins of his fellows.
1.: Those who would be Masons and practice the Masonic art are required to love God and His holy church, the master for whom they labor and their Masonic Brethren; for his is the spirit of Masonry.
2.: The Mason must work diligently in working hours that he may lawfully refresh himself in the hours of rest.
3.: The Mason must keep the secrets of his master, his brethren and the lodge faithfully.
4.: No Mason shall be false to the Craft, but maintain all its rules and regulations.
5.: The Mason shall not murmur at fair compensation.
6.: The Mason shall not turn a working day into a holiday.
7.: The Mason shall restrain his lust.
8.: The Mason shall be just and true to his Brethren in every way.
9.: The Mason shall treat his Brethren with equity and in the spirit of brotherly love.
10.: Contention and strife shall not exist among Brethren.
11.: The Mason shall caution his Brother kindly about any error into which he may be about to fall.
12.: The Mason must maintain every ordinance of the assembly.
13.: The Mason most not steal or protect one who does.
14.: The Mason must be true to the laws of Masonry and to the laws of his country.
15.: The Mason must submit to the lawful penalty of any offense he may commit.
Hand scroll to King.
Ath. examines scroll: Well Done! Worthy Craftsmen and Sir Knights, do you acknowledge these several articles and points, swear that in them you do all agree, and vow to adopt them for the regulation and government of the Craft?
All, left hand on heart, right raised: We swear and vow.
Ath.: Do you swear allegiance to the True Religion and the lawful government of your country, and do you vow to acknowledge their rightful authority, each in its proper sphere?
All, left hand on heart, right raised: We swear and vow.
Ath. hands scroll to Chancellor: Then I declare and decree that This Craft shall henceforth be an assemblage of Freemasons, operating together under these several articles and points, and entitled to my patronage and protection. I decree further that the Craftsmen shall, from time to time, meet together in General Assembly, as a memorial of this occasion and to the end that order may prevail. And to you, my son, Prince among men and Prince among Masons, I offer my deepest gratitude for the service you have this day rendered.
Edw.: Esteemed Sire, your words encourage me to make yet another request. that in token of your favor and approbation you grant this Craft a Charter setting forth your several declarations and decrees, and permitting each body and order to maintain its own forms and usages within the bounds established by our vows.
Ath.: Noble Lord Chancellor, so let it be written. I hereby establish this Craft as the York Rite of Freemasonry, constituted as several bodies and orders, bound together by common vows and unity of purpose. Further, I appoint Prince Edwin as my Deputy for the government of the Craft, with a voice in my councils and a sear at my tight hand. Gives Charter to Edwin.
Edw. takes seat: As you have ordered, so shall it be. But, my father, I would direct your attention to the companion of my travels, who has journeyed with me these seven years. Well skilled in the masonic arts and sciences, he has presided over the several orders and bodies with distinction. All honors of Masonry have been his. Arid yet, seven years has he devoted to guiding my footsteps along the diverse pathways of the Craft, sharing fully with me the wisdom and understanding that are his. By his assistance I have found light; without his my efforts would have been in vain.
Ath.: My son, your accomplishment this day will be long remembered, but no less distinguished is the contribution made by this noble companion. To give freely of one’s knowledge, energies and talents to enable another to perform great deeds, is truly a notable instance of self-sacrificing service. Such devotion must nor go unrewarded.
All rise and King advances to candidate.
Ath.: Please kneel. Noble Companion. as you are already thrice-honored by the Craft. I deem it necessary to establish, and do now create, a new Order in the York Rite of Freemasonry: and I dub you a Knight of York, under the secret style and title of a Prince of the White Rose. As an emblem of your preferment I present you with the white rose of York pins it on candidates breast, and charge you ever to keep it as pure and spotless as you have received
it. Sir Knight and Secret Prince, you may rise.
LCh. presents scroll to candidate: We commit to your care the fifteen articles and fifteen points of agreement, and charge you to do all in your power to see that the Craft is well governed and that harmony and order prevail.
Edw. presents Charter to candidate: We commit to your care the Great Charter of our Order, and charge you to grant to the York Rite of Freemasonry, insofar as you find it possible, your favor, approbation. patronage and protection.
Ath.: By the charge given, you are designated as custodian and conservator of the York Rite of Freemasonry. Your duties are clear, and we trust that you will fulfill them with honor to yourself and continued benefit to the Craft. As the work of this Assembly is now completed, we bid you depart with us and partake of our hospitality before commencing your labors.
Knights form double line, nobles leave, followed by Craftsmen, and finally Knights.
Officers march in, escorted by Knights, and take their stations. Governor, veiled, waits outside with candidate. When all is in order, Governor leads candidate to inner door and knocks.
Sen.: Eminent Deputy Governor, there is an alarm of seven and one at the entrance to this College.
D.G.: Noble Seneschal, ascertain who knocks in this manner and for what purpose.
Sen. goes out and returns: Eminent Deputy Governor the alarm was caused by an aspirant, who knocked seven times to signify that he has completed seven years of apprenticeship, and knocked once again to signify that at the completion thereof he has received a white rose and now desires admission into this College.
D.G.: Admit him.
Gov. conducts candidate to altar: Eminent Deputy Governor, this aspirant again presents himself at the altar, desiring admission into this College, and declaring that he has completed the seven years of apprenticeship enjoined upon him.
D.G.: By what token may we know this?
Gov.: By the white rose he bears upon his breast.
D.G.: What is his age?
Gov.: Thirty-two, representing the twenty-five years of preparation and seven years of apprenticeship served by him who founded this College.
D.G.: Your tasks are completed, your works judged, your qualities determined, and all is in order. Our secrets and mysteries will soon be yours. But first we shall reveal to you the identity of him who has guided your steps at all points of your journey.
Governor goes to East of altar. Deputy Governor and Chancellor come down, remove veil, and remain at either side of Governor.
D.G.: Know that your constant companion is the Governor of this York Rite College of North America. This is agreeable to an ancient injunction that "He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he that is chief, as he that doth serve." It should also remind you that one of the foremost duties of a Knight of York is to guide and assist his fellow-creatures in their search for Light.
Gov.: Before receiving the secrets and mysteries of this Order. you must assume a binding obligation. You will therefore kneel on both knees, place your left hand over your heart, and raise your right hand. All present will rise and give the same sign. Each candidate will say "I". pronounce his name in full, and repeat after me: I, …, in the presence of the Supreme Architect of the Universe and this York Rite College, do solemnly promise and vow that to the end of my life I will never by any manner or means, with good or bad intent, betray or communicate any of the secrets belonging to this order, unto anyone not lawfully entitled thereto.
Further, that I acknowledge that the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, having its Grand East in the City of Detroit, is the supreme governing body of this order and of all York Rite Colleges wheresoever they may be dispersed over the surface of the earth.
Further, that I will bring Masonic light and knowledge to my uninformed brethren, freely sharing with them such knowledge as I may possess, within the bounds of my obligations and solemn vows.
To all, and every part of this obligation I bind myself, The Supreme Architect being my witness, under penalty of being deemed unworthy and forsworn by the entire Craft of the York Rite of North America.
You will seal your vows by saluting the Holy Bible.
Gov.: As a Knight of York and Secret Prince of the White Rose, you are now entitled to all the rights and benefits of membership in this College. In token thereof, I now elevate you to the nobility of the Order. Takes him by the hand and raises him to standing position. Take a seat in this assembly and give your attention to an explanation of the secrets and mysteries of this order.
Candidate takes a seat. Governor, Deputy Governor and Chancellor return to East and Governor seats the assembly.
Chn.: This order is based upon an historical incident of paramount significance to Masonry. Athelstan was one of the more enlightened Saxon monarchs, and was the first to assume the title "King of all England". Like his grandfather, Alfred the Great, he was a liberal thinker and did much to encourage learning. He also built, throughout the kingdom, many churches, abbeys and castles; and this continuing association with the Craft of Builders developed into a mutual admiration and respect.
At that time the Craft was in a state of relative disorder. and King Athelstan determined that there was need for a set of rules and principles whereby the Craft might regulate and govern its affairs. For this purpose he called a General Assembly at York in 926 A.D. at which he, and several nobles of the realm, met with the Craftsmen and decided upon fifteen articles and fifteen points relating to the proper conduct of Freemasons.
He also appointed his son, Prince Edwin, to rule over the Order and, at Edwin’s urging, granted to the Craft a Charter. Thus the year 926 AD. marked the true beginning of the Order as a legal entity, and from that time, the York Charter and General Assembly have been predominant factors in Masonry, through the first Speculative Grand Lodge, formed in London in 1717, which expanded across the continent of Europe and to the four corners of the earth.
Every regular York Rite Body of today is a lineal descendant of the York Assembly of Masons, by reason of the resulting Code of Regulations and Royal Charter, which served subsequently as the basis of the Constitution of 1717.
D.G.: The symbolic form of a York Rite College is a pentagon, the public emblem of our Order. The secret emblem of our Order is the white rose. The pentagon alludes to the five bodies of the York Rite — Lodge, Chapter, Council, Commandery and College — and to the five points of fellowship which are the proper basis for all relationships between Brother Masons. It alludes further to the bounds of a York Rite College, which are the five indispensable qualities of zeal, harmony, knowledge, aspiration, and self-discipline. Within these bounds, every true Knight of York is to regulate and govern his entire existence.
Within every York Rite College is an altar, supporting the Holy Bible, upon which is a pentagon, in the center of which is a white rose. Thus we are reminded that the secrets and mysteries of our Order must be kept within the bounds of the College, and firmly based upon the revealed Word of God.
The officers of a York Rite College symbolically represent the nobles who attended the first General Assembly at York. The Governor represents King Athelstan, and the Deputy Governor, Prince Edwin. Prince Edwin was the first appointed to govern the Craft, therefore the Deputy Governor presides during the reception of candidates. It is the duty of the Governor to guide and conduct candidates, signifying that he who would be foremost in rank must be foremost in serving his Brothers. This also reminds us that one of Our foremost duties is to guide and assist our fellow creatures in their search for light. The Governor is veiled while performing his duty, to indicate that good works are more worthily performed in secret.
Gov.: I will now instruct you in the means of recognition peculiar to this Order.
The sign of supplication is given by ….
This sign should always be given when addressing the Preeminent Governor, or upon entering or retiring from a College while at labor. It is also known as the sign of secrecy.
The sign of agreement is given by ….
The sign of recognition is given by ….
This forms a pentagon, and the clasped hands at the vertex denote union and fidelity. This sign therefore alludes to the completed York Rite, faithfully united in a common purpose.
The secret word of this order is … which means ….
Pre.: From the time man first began to formulate symbols as representations of his nobler thoughts and ideals, the rose has captured his imagination. First, most beautiful and perfect of all flowers, it has been to untold generations an emblem of grace, simplicity, beauty and happiness. And, as symbols have no fixed interpretations, but depend for their meaning upon the comprehension of the viewer, many, in contemplation of the rose, have found something else hidden where others have searched. To the Knight of York, the white rose has particular significance as the internal symbol of our Order, as the pentagon is the external symbol. It has three allusions historical, symbolical and mystical.
Historically, the white rose has long been associated with York and was, for many years, the emblem of the House of York. From the purity of its form and color it also denotes ‘Light"; therefore, it signifies that he who wears the white rose has been guided to the Light and is indeed a true Knight of York.
Symbolically, the white rose has many meanings. Every true rose has five petals, closely joined together, so that all the interpretations of the pentagon are also concealed in the rose. In the Secret Tradition of Israel, the five petals alluded to the five ways of salvation and the five gates of grace. In Masonry this corresponds to the way in which the five indispensable qualities manifest in the five points of fellowship. Foot to foot, that a Knight of York may manifest zeal in going out of his way to aid and defend a Brother: knee to knee, that he may remember his Brother in his reverential petitions to the Deity, and include his Brother’s welfare in his noblest aspirations, breast to breast, that he may exercise prudence and self discipline in concealing a Brother’s confidence; hand to back, that harmony and affection may characterize his fraternal relationship; and cheek to cheek, or mouth to ear, that lie may share his knowledge with a Brother in search of Light. In ancient times the white rose was dedicated to Harpocrates, God of Silence, and hence was especially sacred to secrecy and silence. It also denoted purity and excellence. In this manner are we reminded of the excellence of him who brings Light to others, who shows the way wherein others may achieve great things, yet being himself hidden beneath the veil of secrecy and silence.
Mystically, the white rose alludes to the soul and character of man. As the living rose unfolds and reveals its hidden beauty and perfection, so should man strive to develop his qualities and grow spiritually toward that perfection which is mystically represented by our Blessed Redeemer, the Rose of Sharon, our Supreme Guide and Greatest Bearer of the Light.
As a Secret Prince of the White Rose, it is your privilege to contemplate these mysteries, and your duty to keep them concealed from the unworthy and uninstructed. As a secret emblem of our Order, the white rose should never be exposed to public view; and your rank and title as a Secret Prince of the White Rose should never be revealed outside the bounds of the College. The white rose is yours, Sir Knights, yours to wear with pride and honor; but yours to wear secretly, hidden within your breast, upon the altar of your heart.
In your search for Light, you have sought to pass the Fifth Gate of Night, but to no avail. You have been informed that additional labors were required of you, before you could possess that symbol which is the key unlocking the Fifth and final Gate. Perhaps you suppose that such rank and preferment as are now yours entitle you to knock once more upon the final Gate, and that the White Rose upon your breast will secure for you that which you seek.
My Brother, it cannot be so, nor can any mortal being open wide the Gate for your passage our of the Kingdom of Night. We can only point out the path to be traveled and teach how the key may be fashioned. Be true to your engagements, my Brother. Follow the five guides leading toward the Light, and cultivate assiduously the five indispensable qualities. Thus shall the white rose hidden within your breast grow, and unfold, and come at last into full bloom. For the symbolic key to the Fifth Gate is not the mortal rose, but the mystic rose — the enlightened soul and perfected character of man. And when that key is yours, my Brother, with your last mortal breath shall open wide the Fifth Gate of Night, and your illuminated spirit shall pass through into the Golden Dawn, the Infinite Light, and regain at last its Eternal Home.
Gov.: And now we greet you a Knight of York as well as Companion and Brother. On behalf of this College you will each be presented with a lapel pin as an emblem of your membership in our Order. In addition, you will receive a current dues card and certificate as proof of your membership and which will admit you to the deliberations of a College.
Pins and dues card, are presented to candidates.
Gov.: Is there any further business to come before the College?
Gov.: There being none, we shall proceed to close this assembly. Eminent Chancellor, what is our last duty and concern?
Chn.: To see that the secrets of our Order are secure.
Gov.: Noble Marshal, establish the bounds of this College.
Mar. traverses pentagon, returning to station: Preeminent Governor, the bounds of this College are established and our assembly is secure.
Gov.: Noble Preceptor, remove the rose from the altar, that no profane may view our secret emblem. Preceptor removes rose, and closes Bible.
Gov., *: Sir Knights and Secret Princes, assist me in concealing our mysteries from the unworthy.
All, giving sign of secrecy: We lock the secrets of our Order within our breasts giving sign of agreement. We vow that they shall there remain until our next assembly drop hands.
Gov.: Noble Seneschal, what is the hour?
Sen.: It is nearing the end of the sixth day of the week, the hour when the York Assembly disbanded.
Gov.: It is time to cease our labors. And may the Governor of Heaven be merciful unto us on that fateful day when our works shall be judged, our qualities determined, and Divine Order prevail throughout all Eternity.
Prt.: Supreme Architect of the Universe, may Thy heavenly grace guide us in our pursuits. Grant us unity of purpose, and let us depart in harmony, in the name of our Blessed Redeemer. Amen.
Gov.: To the greater Glory of God, in the name of our Blessed Redeemer, and by virtue of the authority vested in my office by the York Rite Sovereign College of North America, I now declare the work of this assembly completed and this York Rite College duly closed. Companion Knights will remain seated while the Officers retire.
Knights and Officers march out. Companion Knights will remain seated while Officers retire.