General Ahiman Rezon, by Daniel Sickels, , at sacred-texts.com
After the religious services have been performed, the Master will take his station at the head of the coffin, the Senior Warden on his right, the Junior Warden on his left; the Deacons and Stewards, with white rods crossed, the former at the head and the latter at the foot of the coffin; the brethren forming a circle around all, when the Masonic service will commence by the Chaplain or Master repeating the following or some other appropriate PRAYER, in which all the brethren will join:
Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.—AMEN.
Master. Brethren, we are called upon by the imperious mandate of the dread messenger Death, against whose free entrance within the circle of our Fraternity the barred doors and Tiler's weapon offer no impediment, to
mourn the loss of one of our companions. The dead body of our beloved Brother A...... B...... lies in its narrow house before us, overtaken by that fate which must sooner or later overtake us all; and which no power or station, no virtue or bravery, no wealth or honor, no tears of friends or agonies of relatives can avert; teaching an impressive lesson, continually repeated, yet soon forgotten, that every one of us must ere long pass through the valley of the shadow of death, and dwell in the house of darkness.
Sen. War. In the midst of life we are in death; of whom may we seek for succor but of thee, O LORD, who for our sins art justly displeased. Thou knowest, Loan, the secrets of our hearts; shut not thy merciful ears to our prayer,
Jun. War. LORD, let me know my end, and the number of my days; that I may be certified how long I have to live.
Master. Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He cometh forth as a flower, and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not. Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are
with thee; thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; turn from him that he may rest, till he shall accomplish his day. For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease. But man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up, so man lieth down, and riseth not up till the heavens shall be no more.
Sen. War. Our life is but a span long, and the days of our pilgrimage are few and full of evil.
Jun. War. So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Master. Man goeth forth to his work and to his labor until the evening of his day. The labor and work of our brother are finished. As it hath pleased Almighty GOD to take the soul of our departed brother, may he find mercy in the great day when all men shall be judged according to the deeds done in the body. We must walk in the light while we have light; for the darkness of death may come upon us, at a time when we may not be prepared. Take heed,
therefore, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is; ye know not when the Master cometh, at even; at midnight, or in the morning. We should so regulate our lives by the line of rectitude and truth, that in the evening of our days we may be found worthy to be called from labor to refreshment, and duly prepared for a translation from the terrestrial to the celestial Lodge, to join the Fraternity of the spirits of just men made perfect.
Sen. War. Behold, O LORD, we are in distress! Our hearts are turned within us; there is none to comfort us; our sky is darkened with clouds, and mourning and lamentations are heard among us.
Jun. War. Our life is a vapor that appeareth for a little while, and then vanisheth away. All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away.
Master. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting; for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.
Response by all the Brethren. So mote it be.
Then may be sung the following or some other appropriate HYMN:
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NAOMI.—C. M., DR. L. MASON.
Ours, by the pledge of love and faith;
By hopes of heaven on high;
By trust, triumphant over death,
The dead are like the stars by day,
Withdrawn from mortal eye;
Yet holding unperceived their way
Through the unclouded sky.
The MASTER or CHAPLAIN will repeat the following or some other appropriate PRAYER:
MOST GLORIOUS GOD! author of all good, and giver of all mercy! pour down thy blessings upon us, and strengthen our solemn engagements with the ties of sincere affection! May the present instance of mortality remind us of our approaching fate, and draw our attention toward thee, the only refuge in time of need! that when the awful moment shall arrive, that we are about to quit this transitory scene, the enlivening prospect of thy mercy may dispel the gloom of death; and after our departure hence in peace and in thy favor, we may be received into thine everlasting kingdom, to enjoy, in union with the souls of our departed friends, the just reward of a pious and virtuous life.
Response. So mote it be.
If the remains of the deceased are to be removed to a distance where the brethren cannot follow to perform the ceremonies at the grave, the procession will return to the Lodge-room or disperse, as most convenient.