Ritual for the Twenty-Fourth Degree
Prince of the Tabernacle
Opening of the Consistory
1950, Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the U.S.A.
The floor and stage are arranged for the drama. The Candidates are admitted and seated. The Commander-in-Chief, or one deputized by him, and the Orator enter informally and stand in the east, facing west, The Master of Ceremonies and Exemplar who represents the Candidates enter, proceed to the east, and stand facing the Commnnder-in-Chief and Orator.
Commander-in-Chief, *: I am about to open this Court of Princes of the Tabernacle that we may take counsel together. * * *. To order, on the Sign of Fidelity.
To the glory of the Grand Architect of the Universe, in the name and under the auspices of the Supreme Coimeil of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the Thirty-third and Last Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America, and by virtue of the authority upon me conferred, I declare the work of Ö Consistory open on the Twenty-fourth Degree.
Be seated. Give your attention to the Prologue of the Twenty-fourth Degree.
Orator: Religion, which is the one great spiritual force in the world which should unite men, is often the one thing which divides them. Men who may agree on almost everything else, frequently differ in matters of faith and creed. Their paths diverge at the door of the church.
What is more tragic, they often misunderstand each other and become bigoted and intolerant. Whether Protestant or Catholic, Moslem or Jew, they fail to realize that a mutual belief in one living and true God, and cornradcship in the scrvice of Humanity, should bind them together in a world-wide spiritual Brotherhood.
This is the universal message of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry and this is the lesson of the Twenty-fourth Degree. All through the ages men have been seeking God−each in his own way, and have worshiped Him−each in his own tongue; but a Prince of the Tabernacle is tauglit that God is best served by these who best serve their fellowmen, and who reveal, in their own lives, the compassion of the Eternal. It is an ancient tale, but it is a tract for our own times.
Commander-in-Chief: The Candidates will rise. Master of Ceremonies, present the Exemplar.
Master of Ceremonies: I vouch for this Brother, a Chicf of the Tabernacle, Twenty-third Degree, Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, who aspires to advance under your direction.
Commander-in-Chief: I receive you according to the ancient form, even as the High Priest received our brothcr Adoniram in the Temple of Solomon. I will take your right hand in my right liand, and your left hand in my lcft hand, with our arms crossed. The Candidates will come to order under the Sign of Fidelity and, with the Exemplar, silently attend to the solemn affirmation of a Prince of the Tabernacle:
Without disloyalty to my own faith, or the surrender of my own convictions, I acknowledge the right of every man to worship Cod in his own way according to the dictates of his own conscience.
I will do all within my power to overcome bigotry and prejudice, and will seek an enlightened understanding of religions other than my own, believing that Faith strengthened by Knowledge, and Love ennobled by Service will promote the spiritual unity of mankind.
All repeat: And may God aid inc to keep this pledge. Amen.
Commander-in-Chief seats Candidates. Master of Ceremonies faces the Exemplar.
Master of Ceremonies: I will now communicate to you the ancient secret work of the Twenty-fourth Degree which will be exemplified in the drama.
The Sign of the degree is given thus: Carry the right and left hands open over the head, palms out, thumbs and index fingers forming a delta. Then drop hands.
The Grip is the ancient form by which Adoniram was received as a Prince of the Tabernacle. Mutually take each otherís right hand and left hand: right with right, left with left, arms crossed. In this position one gives the Password: Uriel and the other answers: The Tabernacle of Revealed Truth.
The Sacred Word is J-E-H-O-V-A-H, always letter it, do not pronounce. The Battery is 1,2,3,1 and is given thus: * ** *** *.
The Master of Ceremonies steps aside. Orator advances to Exemplar.
Orator: The drama of the Twenty-fourth Degree about to be exemplified, takes us back to the Temple of Solomon : honored and revered by all Freemasons.
Its setting is the Day of Dedication when the Ark of the Covenant was carried, in triumph, to its consecrated place in the Holy of Hohies. Kings of many lands and priests of many religions are present as guests of King Solomon. They are amazed at the splendor of the Temple, and are curious to learn more about the God of Israel.
With gracious courtesy, Solomon insists that the visiting priests shall speak first concerning their own religions and the gods they worship. No one was prepared for two dramatic incidents which compelled every one present to re-examine his own faith in the light of universal Truth.
The drama of this degree is the product of creative imagination, but it might well be a transcript of History. Truth often emerges from the clash of opinions, and it broadens our intellectual and spiritual horizons to look at Life and Duty and God through the minds of others who do not share our religious faith.
The officers of the Consistory retire quickly and the curtain rises on the drama of the Twenty-fourth Degree.
The Drama of the Twenty-Fourth Degree
SCENE: The Court of the Temple, looking toward the Holy of Holies.
TIME: The Day of Dedication in the year B.C. 963.
THE ENTRANCE OF KINGS AND PRIESTS
Curtain rises. Abishar is disclosed seated up center, studying a scroll with the names of the invited guests. If action is on floor, he enters slowly, examining the scroll, is seated and continues his study.
Zerbal enters at sound of chimes or gong, salutes with sword.
Ahishar: Set the guards, Zerhal.
Zerbal retires. Returns with six guards, posts them at the entrance. Joins Ahishar.
Zerbal: The guards are at their posts.
Ahishar: Solomon, our great King, comes with Hiram, King of Tyre, and monarchs and priests from many lands who have heard of the wisdom of Solomon and the huilding of the Temple, and are eager to view its splendor.
Zerbal: Long will this day he remembered, Ahishar. The Temple is ready for dedication, and now the Ark of the Covenant will he hrought from the city of Zion and placed in the Holy of Holies.
While Zerhal is speaking, the Intendants of the Building, Joabert, Stolkin, Selec and Gareb, enter slowly and sorrowfully.
Ahishar: It is indeed a great day! Sees Joabert and companions. It is a day of gladness but not for such gloomy faces as yours, my friends. You have done much to hring it to pass. Why so sad on a day so joyous?
Joabart: Your rebuke is just, Ahishar. Yet, as we came hither, we could not hut recall our murdered Master whose genius adorns this place and whose zeal and love united us in all our lahors; Hiram Ahif, slain on the eve of his triumph. Can you wonder that our joy is tempered with sorrow hecause he is not here to share our happiness?
Intendants of the Building examine the Temple, chat quietly.
While Ahishar is speaking, Moabim enters and joins the others.
Moabim: I greet you, my hrothers. I see from your faces that our Master Builder and friend, Hiram Ahif, is in your thoughts as he is in mine. Truly his work lives after him! . . . Are all things prepared, Ahishar? Looks around. On this day, nothing must he lacking which would add honor to our King and glory to the people of Israel.
Ahishar: It is glory enough, O Moabim, that princes and nohles of foreign lands, as well as great and powerful kings, aye, even the priests of other religions, should have journeyed these many weary miles that they might sit at the feet of Israel and do homage to the wisdom of our King.
Moabim: You have spoken truly, Ahishar. It is a great and glorious day for Israel. But I would see that all is ready. With Ahishar, inspects arrangements. Yes, here are the places for the strangers; kings, princes and priests. Here are the thrones for Solomon and Hiram of Tyre, but what is this third throne?
Ahishar: I know not, O Moabim, hut it was placed there near the throne of Solomon by his own command.
Moabim: Then it is well. Slight pause. Dost thou know the names of these noble guests whom we are to welcome today?
Ahishar: The list is long, Moabim, but here is a scroll prepared by order of the King. It hath the names of those we must admit. Unrolls scroll. They study it together. First on the list, I see our good friend and ally Hiram of Tyre.
Moabim: And here is another royal visitor known to us as a friend, Achish, King of Gath.
Ahishar: See! The Pharoah of Egypt will be here, and Nabu, King of Babylon. And here is the name of one who has greatly troubled our King, Rezon, King of Damascus. Let us hope that he comes in peace.
Moabim: And here I see the name of Trumpet sounds. Moabim rolls up the scroll and hands it to Ahishar: Enough of names, Ahishar. The guests arrive. Zerbal, ascertain who seeks admission here.
Zerbal, salutes. Goes to entrance: Who seeks admission here?
Herald, in a loud voice which can be heard in the Court: Shishak, the Pharaoh of Egypt, and attendants.
Moabim: Let them enter.
Zerbal escorts them to Moabim and returns to entrance.
Moabim: Great ruler of all Egypt. In the name of Israelís King, our master, you are welcome here.
Shishah: The fame of this, your masterís work, has traveled far, and his gracious invitation to witness its consummation is joyfully accepted.
Trumpet. Zerbal attends without orders.
Zerbal: Who comes here?
Herald: Achish, King of Gath; Nabu, King of Babylou; Rezon, King of Damascus.
Moabim: Admit them all! Zerbal escorts them. Kings and Potentates, great is the honor you do this day to Israel and to our King, and great is our gratitude that you have come. Welcome to you all.
Kings assemble informally in east, greeting each other, until Hiram of Tyre is announced.
Trumpet. Zerbal at entrance.
Zerbal: What is the cause of this alarm? Who waits without?
Herald: Ninus, Prince of Babylon, Agron, the noble Greek and Hadad, a philosopher of Edom.
Moabim: These names I know not. Consult the scroll, Ahishar. Ahishar consults list.
Ahishar: Ninus the Babylonian, Agron the Athenian and Hadad the Edomite are expected.
Moabirn to Zerbal: Admit them and escort them to the east. . . . Although you are unknown to me, I greet you as honored guests. King Solomon expects you and, in his name, you are welcome. They bow and join the others.
Trumpet. Zerbal at entrance.
Zerbal: Who makes alarm?
Herald: Hiram, King of Tyre.
Guests previously received now settle in their seats and give attention to proceedings.
Moabim: Hiram, King of Tyre will enter. Hiram enters. Zerbal escorts him and returns to entrance. As greatest of all our friends and allies we greet you. As co-worker with our great King, we honor you. As friend and companion of the Master Builder, Hiram Abif, we love you. If, today, we dedicate this Temple to our God, it is only because of timely aid received from you. Israel acknowledges its gratitude in our cordial welcome.
Hiram: For all these words of love and greeting, all my people will thank you. For myself, if I have had a humble part in the great task, the work itself has been its own reward, and to share in it has been a pleasure to me and an honor to the people of Tyre.
Ahishar escorts Hiram to his throne. Trnmpet. Zerbal speaks to the Herald and returns.
Zerbal: Four priests of ancient religions wait without. There is one with them who vouches for them all: Zadok, our own iligh Priest.
Ahishar attempts to show Moabim the scroll. He pushes it aside.
Moabim: Nay, nay, Ahishar. When Zadok vouches for these guests, we do not need the scroll.
To Zerbal: Admit the priests. They enter. Zadok escorts them.
We greet you Zadok. Present your guests.
Zadok: These priests have come to add further honor to our King and our God. I present to you Points to each in turn. Each bows as his name is called. Phrenes, a priest of Egypt; Arbaces, priest of Phoenicia; Menon, a Brahman from India; and Azra, a Persian priest. They are priests of other gods than ours, and they are renowned in their own lands. They have heard of the power of Israelís God and, on this day when we dedicate the Temple, they have come to do him homage.
Moabim: O priests of ancient faiths, you have traveled far to he with us on this day. Our people are grateful for your coming and, in the Kingís name, I bid you welcome. Pray, be seated.
While Moabim is speaking, Zadok qnietly retires to prepare for the entrance of the Ark of the Covenant. Trumpet. Zerbal investigates and reports.
Zerbal: Solomon, King of Israel! Prepare to receive our King!
Moabim: Swing wide the portals that the King may enter in triumph! Ahishar, Master of Ceremonies, convey onr greetings to our noble King and assure him that all is in readiness for his coming. Zerbal, form a guard of honor and escort the King to his throne.
Ahishar goes to entrance, makes obeisance end gives message. Zerbal forms guard. Triumphal march (Organ) Processional in the following order:
All rise when the King enters and bow deeply as he passes. At the throne, guards open ranks, stand with crossed spears as the King marches under them to his throne. When the King is seated, Zerbal and guards return to entrance. Ahishar joins Moabim, When the King raises his scepter all resume seats.
Brief anthem of adoration or thanksgiving.
Solomon: Welcome, thrice welcome! Kings, priests and my loyal workmen and people. This day fulfills the promise which God made to my father David when he said "Thy son, whom I will set upon thy throne, he shall build an house unto my name." Yet, not I alone, but by the industry and skill of our faithful workmen the Temple has been builded. Our royal friend and ally, Hiram, King of Tyre, is here to witness the consummation of the work in which he has aided. To him I have ceded twenty cities in token of our amity.
Our trusted co-worker and beloved friend, Hiram Abif, whose presence here would crown our joy, has been slain. Yet he lives in his work and Masons of all time will emulate his integrity and fidelity. In memory of Hiram Abif, I have ordered this throne set, that all may see that the faithful workman is honored in the Court of Solomon the King. As he was faithfully supported by the Intendants of the Building, so I desire Adoniram, Joabert, Stolkin, Selec and Gareb, who succeeded him and who represent all the workmen, to stand about his vacant throne. Approach and receive the plaudits of the people.
They approach. People shout: Hail.
Joabert: All are here, great Solomon, except our Chief, Adoniram, whom we have not seen.
Ahishar conducts them to their stations behind the throne of Hiram Abif.
Solomon: Adoniram not here! Surely it is strange that he is not present in this our joyous festival. Summon him that he may join in the ceremonies of this hour.
Ahishar retires to make inquiries. Returns after a brief interval during which there is soft organ music.
Ahishar: Mighty Solomon, Adoniram is not in the Court. We have sought him, but he cannot he found.
Solomon: It is passing strange! When he comes, Ahishar, conduct him here to join with his brethren. Rises.
Give ear, my people! Many generations have passed since our forefathers placed in the Tabernacle that token of Godís promise to the seed of Abraham: the Ark of the Covenant. Through all the wanderings and warfare of centuries, that Ark has been Israelís palladium in battle and her shrine in peace. It has been housed in tents and on threshing floors. It has been seized by foes and through miraculous power restored again by the dismayed captors.
David, my royal father, brought it up to Zion with song and dancing. Now the Temple shall be its shelter and, according as the Lord commanded Moses, its resting place shall be in the Holy of Holies. All my people, and these my guests from distant lands, shall stand in the Court of the Temple to witness the power of the Lord our God.
Zerbal, let the guards make way, that the Priests of the Most High may enter. Seated.
Note: All rise when the Ark of the Covenant enters. When it is placed in the Holy of Holies, Solomon and the officers of the Court stand facing it, arms raised, palms outward, index fingers and thumbs forming a delta. Israelites fall on faces. Some guests kneel, some bow deeply, others merely observe scene curiously. All remain standing until seated by Solomon.
The Entrance of the Ark
Organ march or processional hymn. The procession is formed as follows:
Choristers Two Priests Zerbal Guards
Levites bearing the Ark The High Priest
At the east, Choristers move to station, the two Priests proceed to Holy of Holies and open curtains. At Zerbalís low command, Guards open ranks. Levites bearing Ark, followed by the High Priest, march through. Ark is placed on pedestal. High Priest makes deep obeisance.
High Priest, facing Ark: When Aaron lighteth the lights at even, in the Tabernacle of the Congregation without the veil, he shall burn incense; a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.
As Zadok speaks, priests light candles and incense. Bow deeply and withdraw, after closing inner curtains. Lighting effects, thick smoke, red fire.
As Zadok turns, all lower arms, but remain standing.
High Priest, facing people: Blessed be the Lord, who hast given rest unto Israel according to all that He promised. There hath not failed one word of all his good promises. The Lord our God be with us as He was with our fathers. Let him not leave us or forsake us, that we may incline our hearts unto him to walk in all his ways. Let our hearts, therefore, be perfect with the Lord our God to walk in his statutes and to keep his commandments as at this day.
During singing, Solomon returns to throne and is seated. Raises scepter and seats all others. Zadok is seated near visiting priests.
Zerbal and Guards may escort the Levites and the two Priests to entrance unless there is room for them to remain. Guards remain on duty at entrance.
Hiram, King of Tyre: O wise and great King, I give you joy of this day. Your God is indeed a great Cod. My soul has been stirred by strange emotions while these wonders have been displayed.
Phrenes: Who is this God, great King? In the secret archives of our priesthood we have record of the marvelous works which wrought the deliverance of your people. Sorrowful legend tells us of the death of the first born of every Egyptian household in vengeance for your wrongs. Tell us, pray, of this God.
Voices: Tell us, we pray. We fain would know more of this mighty God.
Solomon: Whoso loveth instruction, loveth knowledge. It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honor of kings is to search out a matter. In the multitude of counselors there is safety. Behold, there are here kings and priests from distant lands. Tell us of your gods and their worship. Then shall you hear of our God.
Zadok by a gesture indicates who is to speak.
Menon, with quiet dignity: I am from India, mighty rajah: a Brahman of Brahmans. From our sacred books, the Vedas, we learn that in the beginning there arose the Golden Child, the one born Lord of all. He established the earth and the sky. He gives life and strength. All the bright gods revere him. Thirty-three gods do we adore; eleven in heaven, eleven on earth, and eleven dwelling in glory in midair. Agni rules over the earth, Indra over air, but Surya reigns supreme in the glory of the sun. Many millions of lesser powers obey their will and do good or evil to men. But he, the Shining One, who looketh even over the water cloud, he is god above all gods, and to him we offer our sacrifice.
Azra, with some animation: Not so, we of ancient Persia, mighty monarch. Ormazd, God of Light and of all good, who dwells in perfect light, wars perpetually against Ahriman, god of Darkness, of all evil, who dwells in the blackness of night. Mithras mediates for man between these mighty powers. Ormazd creates; Ahriman destroys; Mithras rescues and restores. Ormazd we invoke to work his good will upon us; Ahriman we placate to fend off his awful wrath; Mithras preserves and sustains men. We worship under the canopy of heaven. No temple roof screens us from the glowing sun wherein dwells Mithras, the benignant God.
Ninus, boastingly: My people of Bablyon are many, mighty and rich. Our gods are many, powerful, and glorious. Anu, father of gods. Bel, Lord of destiny. Ishtar, our great mother. Ea, the ruler. Shamash, the judge, and many others. By sacrifice, by dance, by fasting and by festival, we invoke their favor.
Agron, courteously: In my city of Athens, the city of the violet crown, we also worship many gods. By our mysteries of Eleusis and of Ceres we are led through labors and trials, towards a future which we do not know. While suns are bright the skies smile and the stars shine, we render our grateful tribute of flowers, and dance, and song, to the high and gracious gods, Zeus and Hera, Apollo, the shining one, and Aphrodite, our Mother.
Arbaces, fiery, but ending with deep solemnity: Who are all these gods compared with Dagon, great god of the Phoenicians? Baal, our mighty Conqueror; Ashtoreth, goddess of Love! What sacrifices too great? Moloch opens his fiery arms to receive his human victims. Baal revels in the fury of the mysterious rites. Holocausts of victims are offered to appease their wrath. Men are but auts beneath their divine tread, trodden to dust in their all-conquering march. Life is a breath; it comes, it goes, it goes forever. Whether Baal or Ashtoreth dominates, whether war or lust, the end is sure, and the end is death.
Phrenes, after a short pause: Through all these conflicting beliefs and varied worship I seem to perceive traces of that great central truth which from most ancient time has been taught in the schools of the Priests of Egypt. But we have ever held these mysteries too profound and sacred to spread their knowledge among men.
Solomon: In your schools, Egyptian, did Moses, our law-giver, first learn these mysteries, but in the solitude of the field he first beheld the Light which led him to the one God worshiped by our fathers, Enoch and Abraham, who knew his name. Can you not see, O kings and priests, that all your religions are kin, all born of manís yearnings for Infinite Good, his fear of Infinite Evil? Good ever strives to rise into light; Evil ever drags down into darkness. How shall we learn the Word which saves, the Light which is life? By sacrifice, by holocausts of victims, by solemn ceremony, by rites and mysteries, by priestly invocations? Or must it indeed be as you have said, Egyptian, too profound and sacred to be known of man? Then, indeed, the way is dark, and life only a pilgrimage to death.
Here is a short pause, and Solomon is bowed in thought.
Hadad, steps forward and laughs derisively: Ha! ha! ha! Vain and empty babbling of tongues. Words, words, words, which darken wisdom and shed no light upon a groping spirit. And after all this idle talk we find neither one God nor many gods.
Startled silence for a moment.
Hiram of Tyre: Is the man mad? What mean you by this violent speech?
Hadad: I mean, O King, that all this babble is vain; the crafty teaching of priests who would deceive their ignorant worshipers, or the foolish prattle of babes who cannot reason. Gods, gods, gods, without number, and yet never seen by mortal man. Who has ever heard their voice? Who has ever touched even the hem of their garment? If there be gods of battle, their impotence is proven, for while two contending armies invoke their favor, night falls on one of them vanquished, and the next day may witness the downfall of the victor.
Two parched provinces invoke by bloody sacrifice and cruel rites the favor of the same Rain God, and, in the fulness of time, rain deluges and drowns the one, while the other remains an arid desert. In both cases, prayer is mocked, and the ignorant worshipers are the victims of nature.
Pestilence rages, plague stalks into the household, agonized parents cut themselves with lances, offer up their choicest gifts, babble out their frenzied prayers to all the mighty gods, and after all, insatiable Death falls upon children and parents alike, and desolates a home. Where, then, are all your gods?
Hiram of Tyre: The man is mad.
Agron: Nay, O King, he is drunken with wine. Bacchus, the god of wine, has possessed him and inspires his raving.
Hadad: Fool! Does then one of the gods deny all the gods? No! I am not drunken, but sober and sane. Bah!
Menon: He blasphemes the gods.
Azra: Impious wretch! The gods will punish thee.
Arbaces: Slay him! Slay him!
Excitement, except Israelites, who are quiet.
Hadad: Idle babbling all. Hearken to me. "He blasphemes the gods," says one, Pointing to Menon. Yet I stand here as steadfast as any of you servile worshipers of the numberless gods whom I defy. Yea, I stand here now, rich, powerful, strong, far beyond what I was when I also prattled my foolish invocations and offered tithes of all my possessions to the unknown gods. "The gods will punish thee," says another. Pointing to Azra. Ah! This heart knoweth its own bitterness. Why then was I punished so cruelly even while I was a devout worshiper, when my harvests were destroyed, my homestead devastated, my friends exiled, my children slain, the wife of my heartís love ravished from my side. Where was my god then? Where was my reward for tithe and sacrifice? Where was answer to my frantic prayers? "Slay him! Slay him!" says yet another. Pointing to Arbaces. What then? Shall weak and impotent man do the work of the great and mighty gods? No man here can say I have harmed him. Why should you slay me? If there be gods, and they be the powerful deities ye declare, and if the denials of this feeble mortal are blasphemies against them, let them slay me. I defy them! A pause. Bah!
Israelites and others: Away with the blasphemer! Slay him! Slay him!
Solomon: Silence! Guards, restore order!
Guards restrain crowd, leaving Hadad alone in center.
Solomon: Let no blood be shed in this sacred place. Zerbal, safeguard this stranger until I shall send for him at another time and place. See to it.
Zerbal takes Hadad, and stands with him in his place near Solomon, two guards behind them. All silent while they observe this.
The Vision of Adoniram
A cheer and laughter heard outside, and Adoniram enters briskly, still laughing. Halts suddenly as he becomes conscious of those present.
Solomon: Welcome, Adoniram, my friend and coworker. You come to cheer our gloom. You seem happy.
Adoniram: And why not, great Solomon? The sun shines brightly, the earth is adorned with beauty, our work is finished. Yes, I am happy. Yet I would not obtrude unseemly merriment in this august presence. Pardon me, mighty King.
Solomon: Not so, Adoniram. We thank you for restoring us to pleasant memories of this day. We have sought you, and it has grieved us that you, who have labored so zealously toward this event, should be absent in the hour of its consummation. Surely, it is not a small thing in your view that today we brought up the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord and placed it in the Holy of Holies.
Adoniram: Far be it from me, O King, to be indifferent to this glad event. I grieve over my absence.
Hiram of Tyre: Where have you been, my friend, and what labor has engaged your attention?
Adoniram: I know not whether I can tell you so as to win your indulgence. Last night I sought my rest, fatigued with the labors of preparing for this joyful day.
I slept, and in my slumber came a vision of a new Temple, whose beauties far surpassed all that I have ever conceived, whose splendor excelled all that I have ever deemed possible, whose glories shone with a brightness which illumined all the immensities of space. In my sleep I smiled for joy at its beauty, and wept for longing that I might pattern its magnificence for my king and my God. Enraptured, I arose with the dawn and went without the city to be alone with my dream.
I know not where my steps led me, but I came to a poor dwelling where sorrow and hunger held joint sway. There sat a widowed mother, mourning her dead, and agonizing over her children. For many months she had nursed her dying husband, spending all their scanty possessions to buy him nourishment. He died, and she and her fatherless children were starving. The God of the widow and the orphan led me there, and I ministered to their need.
A little way farther I found cattle moaning in distress, hungry and athirst, because their owners had hastened to this religious festival, and had left their kine unmilked, their cattle unfed and unwatered. The God of all good led me there, and I relieved their distress.
In another place I found a workman puzzled and baffled over his task; his untrained mind could not compass his instructions; his unskilled hands could not perform the task his master had set him to do. I pointed out the clue to his mazy plan; I showed him a better way and guided his hand to a better result than he had known.
Farther on, I found a little child who had wandered from the home path, and was weeping for loneliness and fright. I took the babe in my arms and bore it to the frightened and anxious mother.
I wandered into a grove of olive trees, and there, overcome with the beauty of the world, the glory of creation, the love of the All-father, there where birds caroled their jubilant songs, where blossoming flowers east their fragrant incense into the air, where lofty trees, their branches swayed by the zephyrs, chanted their anthem of praise, I, too, worshiped God.
I know not how long I was there. Sudden memory brought me thought of this holy festival, and I hastened hither. But just beyond the entrance I found a dispute among the workmen; some rancor was stirring, but the God of Peace led my steps, and there, between the two pillars of the porch, the workmen agreed, their dispute was harmonized, and there was peace and unity again. Hence, the cheers and laughter as I entered, O King.
Solomon: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Hearken, O kings and priests. Wisdom crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets. Not from you, Priests of the Sacred religious, schooled in the mysteries of Worship, but from this workman, have we learned of Humanityís God. From him, too, have we learned that he who serves Godís creatures, who ministers to Godís children, who adores God in the solitary chamber of his own heart, he worships God in sincerity and in truth.
Agron: Truly, his words find response in my soul. When I return to Athens, I shall rear there an altar "to the Unknown God."
Adoniram: I have treasured in my heart as too sacred to tell, a vision I had while in the grove of olives, but these words invoke my speech. In this vision, the earth swayed and rocked, and I saw the Temple shattered and broken. It vanished from my sight, and there in the garden of olives, I saw a man whose face showed all the sorrows of all the ages. In a voice of infinite gentleness he said, "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
Then the vision faded away with a sound of ravishing music, as though all the sorrows of earth had turned into joy.
During this narrative, Hadad has been more and more interested and draws near to Adoniram. As the last word is spoken, Hadad turns toward the Holy of Holies, raises his hands to heaven and cries out:
Hadad: Uriel! Angel of Light!
Falls on his knees, slowly lowers arms to just above the forehead, palms out, index lingers and thumbs forming a delta. After a pause, he rises and turns toward Solomon.
Hadad: I have sinned, O King. Instead of looking for God, I have spent all my years in a futile struggle for self. All my labors, all my sacrifices, all my prayers have been but a selfish striving for selfish ends.
This man has opened my eyes. I now see my brother men and, through them, dimly I see their God; and my God. Surely, Uriel, Messenger of Light, has led Adoniram all this day. Suffer me to depart, great King, that through just such labors of love, I may be led into the perfect Light where I, too, may see the heavenly vision and know God.
Solomon: Depart in peace, my brother. Uriel will illumine your spirit, so that you may no longer grope in thick darkness. So live and act that your fellowmen shall be blest in all your works. Then shall your life be a Tabernacle of revealed Truth, and you shall walk with God. Farewell.
Hadad bows to the King. Goes to Adoniram, takes his right hand in his own right, and his left hand in his own left, arms crossed. They stand together for a moment, then Hadad walks out., head uplifted, face shining. A spot light on Hadad as he walks slowly to the entrance enhances the climax.
A Prince of the Tabernacle
Solomon: wisdom does not compass the mystery of Adoniramís vision. But this I know: not by wisdom, not by might, not by Ancient Mysteries or sacred Lore do we come to Truth; but by the dayís work well done, and by quiet ministries of Love we build a newer and nobler Temple in the heart of man. Here all creeds may worship.
In commemoration of this day, I establish a new Order: Prince of the Tabernacle; to which only those may aspire who devote themselves to labor incessantly for the glory of God and the happiness of their fellowmen.
In this new Order, the first neophyte shall be Adoniram. Zadok, receive our brother according to an ancient form.
Zadok leads Adoniram to the center where they stand facing each other. Zadok takes Adoniram Ďs right hand in his right, and his left hand in his own left, arms crossed.
Zadok: Thus I receive you as a Prince of the Tabernacle. Let thine ear be ever open to the cry of distress and the call of duty. Let thy hand be ready to labor in every good work. Let thy feet be swift in errands of mercy and good will. Looks upward. And may the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us, yea the work of our hands establish Thou it. Amen and Amen.
Zadok and Adoniram release hands and face front.
Solomon, rises: Behold a Prince of the Tabernacle, instructed and prepared to fulfill his duties as a prince of well-doers in this frail Tabernacle of Mortality, that he may be raised a shining monument of Godís glory in the Tabernacle of Eternity.
If the action is on the floor, Solomon continues:
Solomon: Moabim, lead us to the feast which I have provided for these my guests and my people.
Moabim quickly forms a recessional, led by the Officers of the Court, followed by the visiting Priests, the Kings, then Hiram of Tyre and Solomon. Zerbal forms guards at entrance, standing in open order with crossed spears; as the retinue passes through.
The Closing of the Consistory
If no other Consistory degrees are to be exemplified, the Commander-in-Chief, or one deputized by him closes with the Official Declaration.
To the glory of the Grand Architect of the Universe, in the name and under the auspices of the Supreme Council of Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of the Thirty-third and Last Degree of the Ancient Accepted Scottish rite of Freemasonry for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States of America, and by virtue of the authority upon me conferred, I declare the works of Ö Consistory closed.
Opening of the Consistory