Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London

Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London

BROTHERHOOD

Traveling Man – Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London

The home of Freemasons in London, England

A Masonic Must-See: Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London

Hey there, fellow Brothers and Masonic enthusiasts! RW Anthony Prizzia  here, and I’m stoked to share an absolute gem of a Masonic destination – Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London. If you’re into Masonic history and grandeur, Freemasons’ Hall is at 60 Great Queen Street, London, is one for the bucket list.

Photo (left to right): RW Anthony Prizzia and Bro. David Dunn

Awe-Inspiring Architecture and a Treasure Trove of Artifacts

The building itself is a sight to behold. It exudes a sense of history and significance the moment you approach. And it’s not just about the exterior; this is the hub for some 25,000 Brothers in London! Best of all, it houses a collection of rare Masonic artifacts that’s truly mind-blowing.

As soon as you step through the doors, the sheer scale of the entrance hall washes over you. Just remember, security is tight (as it should be), so be prepared for a bag check. Once you’re through, the museum awaits, and most of it is open to the public completely free! Want a closer look at the magnificent Grand Hall? There’s an affordable self-guided tour option with an audio guide to lead the way. Just be mindful – individual Lodge rooms and regalia areas are off-limits. Don’t stray, or you’ll likely get a friendly tap on the shoulder from security.

The library is a bibliophile’s paradise (especially if you’re a Masonic bibliophile!). There are quiet nooks to settle into with some fascinating Masonic literature – just be sure to get help from the librarian. Everywhere you turn, there’s Masonic art and historical pieces from around the world. It’s a true feast for the eyes.

The Coolest Grand Lodge Pub…Ever?

I don’t want to spill all the beans, as I want you to experience the magic firsthand, but let me tell you about the coolest part (in my opinion) – the cafe/pub. I’ve been in Grand Lodges worldwide, and I’ve never seen one with a full-service dining area and a killer selection of drinks! It’s a place for officers, members, and guests to unwind and connect. My daughter and girlfriend felt totally at ease – a big plus in my book.

While enjoying the ambiance, I was lucky enough to meet Brother David Dunn. A true Brother, he took the time to share some fascinating history about the building and insights into English Freemasonry. Did you know most Lodges in England only meet a few times a year? Or that the way the ritual work is done can be quite different? It’s fascinating!

Your Masonic Adventure Awaits

The Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London meets quarterly, and I’m hoping to snag an invite someday. I have a feeling that would be spectacular! My hope is that I’ve convinced you to come and experience this building in person. And don’t forget to grab a bite and a drink in the one-of-a-kind Grand Lodge pub while you’re there!

Let me know if you’ve been or if you plan on going!

Cheers and fraternal love!

RW Anthony Prizzia
Past Master of Adonai Lodge #718, Highland, New York
Bro. Prizzia is also a proud member of:
Cyprus Shrine, Oriental Shrine, and Ulster County Shrine Club
Valley of Albany A.A.S.R
Poughkeepsie Chapter 172
Poughkeepsie Commandery 43
Royal Order of Scotland

Masonic Ritual – Chamber of Reflection

Masonic Ritual – Chamber of Reflection

MASONIC RITUAL

The Chamber of Reflection

MASONIC RITUAL EXPLAINED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CUSTODIANS OF THE WORK

What is the best way or traditional way to use a chamber of reflection? If a Lodge does not have a chamber of reflection how can the Lodge configure a room to best incorporate the “feel” of the chamber of reflection?

According to the Grand Lodge of New York State:

The Chamber of Reflection is an idea that originated in French continental Masonry. As with many elements of French Masonry, this idea was borrowed by Albert Pike and described in his book “The Porch and the Middle Chamber: Book of the Lodge.” However, that book describes the workings of the three Craft Degrees and the Chamber of Reflection doesn’t seem to have caught on with the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (AASR). Craft Lodges and some Royal Arch Chapters do occasionally use a Chamber of Reflection and it does seem to be an idea that’s catching on. Overall it’s a good idea, as its primary effect is to create a beneficial psychological state in the Candidate that can make the experience more meaningful. Some Lodges use a Chamber of Reflection for the Entered Apprentice Degree, and some Lodges use different Chambers of Reflection for all three Degrees.

Understanding the foregoing, it doesn’t seem there is anything we could call a “traditional” Chamber of Reflection for a New York Lodge practicing our Antients-influenced Webb-Cross Ritual working. This has both advantages and disadvantages, and they’re the same: You can do whatever you want, within the bounds of propriety. What are the bounds of propriety? Primarily they’re the same as they are for all our Ritual practices, which forbid scaring, intimidating, or ridiculing Candidates, or anything else that might have a deleterious effect on the solemnity of our ceremonies. It’s also important to avoid symbols, words, practices, or other elements that borrow from or draw upon a Ritual lineage that differs from our own—which can be more challenging than one might think since most of what has been written about the Chamber of Reflection reflects a different Ritual tradition. So, no “V.I.T.R.I.O.L.,” no salt, sulfur, and mercury, no skeleton holding an arrow and dagger, no cockerel and hourglass, and so on.

If we can’t use those things, then what can we use? Anything that seems like it might be thought-provoking and in keeping with the New York Ritual tradition. Working Tools and cable tows; chalk, charcoal, and clay for the First Degree; corn, wine, and oil for the Second Degree, or perhaps a letter G. There are all sorts of things a Candidate might find curious in the Chamber or Reflection that will come to have significance as the Degree unfolds. The Chamber of Reflection could also include a piece of paper with a few questions for the Candidate to answer in writing—in which case I suggest it be sealed immediately without a reading and returned to the Candidate a the conclusion of the Degree. Or the Chamber of Reflection could simply be a dimly lit and quiet room where the Candidate can spend some time before the Masters of Ceremony brings him into the preparation room to knock on the inner door.

A Chamber of Reflection can also be a great time-saver if the Candidate is clothed and placed into the chamber just prior to the opening of the Lodge, in which case the Masters of Ceremony have only to bring him into the preparation room and apply the hoodwink. Needless to say, in such a circumstance the Candidate should have passed a ballot at a previous Communication—which should be a standard practice regardless. A Lodge should never ballot on a Candidate who has already shown up at the Lodge expecting to be Initiated.

Response provided by RW Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
Chairman, Custodians of the Work, Grand Lodge of New York

Note: This site is an excellent source of information about Freemasonry. While every effort has been made to provide accurate and up-to-date information about Masonic Ritual, please remember that a website is not a substitute for your jurisdiction’s Standard Work or Approved Ritual.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey
The 1784 St. John’s Day Sermon

The 1784 St. John’s Day Sermon

MASONIC HISTORY

To Fear God: The 1784 St. John’s Day Sermon

On St. John the Evangelist Day 1784 at Morristown, New Jersey, The Rev. Uzal Ogden delivered a sermon before Lodge No. 10. Ogden was not a Freemason, but with that surname it is easy to see he had family connections to the fraternity, most probably through Moses Ogden and others at St. John’s Lodge in Newark. As for Lodge No. 10, this is the mysterious lodge in Basking Ridge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania.
Rev. Uzal Ogden
The reverend, an Episcopalian, was known to preach in New Jersey at both Trinity Church in Newark and at St. John’s Church in Elizabethtown, as well as at the more famous Trinity Church in Manhattan. He graduated from Princeton University at age 18, and was ordained in 1773 at 29. He was an experienced speaker by age 40 when he preached this sermon to the local Freemasons, and he did so without notes. The reason we have it today is the lodge requested a written copy for publication, causing the reverend to put quill to paper after the fact. Historically, we readers find ourselves a year after the Revolutionary War ended and almost two years before the founding of the Grand Lodge of New Jersey.

This sermon is far too long to reproduce here, so this focus is on one of its four key ideas: “to notice what it is to ‘fear God.'”

What is it to fear God? When the candidate for the degrees of Freemasonry seeks admission to a New Jersey lodge, the Worshipful Master orders that he be in the “fear of the Lord” upon entering. It must be important because it’s in all three degrees. (This is not the case here in New York, where the language is overtly different.) It is more specific than belief in a higher power. What does it mean?

To fear God, Ogden said, is to love or to serve Him. He illustrates this with multiple quotations of Scripture, including two attributed to King Solomon: “It shall be well with those who fear God. (Ecclesiastes 8:12) And “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) By the fear of God, he continues, “we are to understand a due observance of religion, which it may be said, consists of three particulars: knowledge, faith, and practice.”
“The first principle of religious knowledge requisite we should be acquainted with,” Ogden says, “is that there exists some Being superior to ourselves, who gave excellence to Creation, who inhabits eternity, whose knowledge is infinite, whose presence fills all space, whose power preserves and sustains all nature, and who possesses all possible perfection.”

“Can we behold the heavens above or the earth beneath,” he adds, “without acknowledging the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness displayed by some, though to us, invisible Architect?”

Faith, Ogden’s second particular in fearing God, also is the first of the principal rounds of the ladder—Faith, Hope, and Charity—reaching to Heaven that Freemasonry discusses in its First Degree. Ogden begins: “But it is to no purpose we are informed of these things unless we believe them. ‘Without faith,’ it is said, ‘it is impossible to please God, for he that comes to Him must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.’”

“To hope for the friendship of God,” he adds, “while we disclaim His authority…would be irrational, as futile, as it would be to…behold the light if deprived of the organs of vision!”

Of the third of his particulars—practice—Rev. Ogden is all about character. “Although it is most reasonable we should offer to our Almighty Creator and divine benefactor the oblation of our hearts; and though Christianity is calculated to deliver us from infamy and woe, and to exalt us to honor and happiness, how often are its benefits rejected?” he asks. “How many are there, even of those professing to revere this dispensation of mercy, who live regardless of its precepts, and who, in their actions with men are so far from ‘doing as they would be done unto,’ that no feelings of humanity; no sense of honor, nor any fear of divine vengeance, nor any thing but present punishment can divert them from acts of dishonesty, barbarity, and flagrant impiety?”

While there is no documentation of Rev. Uzal Ogden being a Freemason, it is clear that Lodge No. 10 chose its speaker for St. John the Evangelist Day wisely. He anticipated his audience and crafted his remarks accordingly, and we are fortunate the lodge opted to have his sermon printed so posterity may enjoy it.
Written by W. Bro. Jay Hochberg

WB Hochberg is the Senior Warden of The American Lodge of Research in Manhattan; is a Past Master of New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education 1786; and also is at labor in Civil War Lodge of Research 1865 in Virginia.

George Washington’s letters to the Jews of Newport

George Washington’s letters to the Jews of Newport

MASONIC RESEARCH

WASHINGTON’S LETTERS TO THE JEWS OF NEWPORT

Two Freemasons’ agreement on religious liberty

On August 17, 1790, President George Washington visited Newport, Rhode Island during a nationwide public relations tour of the new country to confirm the bonds among the newly united states, and to show off its first president who, for all his exploits as commanding general during the Revolution, really had not seen much of the country. The visit is memorialized in ways that include two exchanges of letters with Washington. The first was between the small congregation of Jewish residents of Newport; the second was between the Freemasons of the town. Both pairs of letters communicated messages of good will and brotherhood, and both would be remembered by posterity for their significance to the new nation’s fledgling commitment to guaranteeing religious liberty. Mr. Moses Seixas, one of the leaders of the synagogue, representing approximately 300 Jews in Newport, writes:
Sir: Permit the children of the stock of Abraham to approach you with the most cordial affection and esteem for your person and merits, and to join with our fellow citizens in welcoming you to NewPort. With pleasure we reflect on those days—those days of difficulty, and danger, when the God of Israel, who delivered David from the peril of the sword—shielded Your head in the day of battle, and we rejoice to think, that the same Spirit, who rested in the Bosom of the greatly beloved Daniel enabling him to preside over the Provinces of the Babylonish Empire, rests and ever will rest, upon you, enabling you to discharge the arduous duties of Chief Magistrate in these States. Deprived as we heretofore have been of the invaluable rights of free Citizens, we now with a deep sense of gratitude to the Almighty disposer of all events behold a Government, erected by the Majesty of the People—a Government, which to bigotry gives no sanction, to persecution no assistance, but generously affording to all Liberty of conscience, and immunities of Citizenship—deeming every one, of whatever Nation, tongue, or language equal parts of the great governmental Machine. This so ample and extensive Federal Union whose basis is Philanthropy, Mutual confidence and Public Virtue, we cannot but acknowledge to be the work of the Great God, who ruleth in the Armies of Heaven, and among the Inhabitants of the Earth, doing whatever seemeth him good. For all these Blessings of civil and religious liberty which we enjoy under an equal benign administration, we desire to send up our thanks to the Ancient of Days, the great preserver of Men, beseeching him, that the Angel who conducted our forefathers through the wilderness into the promised Land, may graciously conduct you through all the difficulties and dangers of this mortal life. And, when, like Joshua full of days and full of honour, you are gathered to your Fathers, may you be admitted into the Heavenly Paradise to partake of the water of life, and the tree of immortality. Done and Signed by order of the Hebrew Congregation in NewPort, Rhode Island, August 17th 1790. Moses Seixas, Warden
President Washington replies:
Gentlemen, While I receive, with much satisfaction, your Address replete with expressions of affection and esteem; I rejoice in the opportunity of assuring you, that I shall always retain a grateful remembrance of the cordial welcome I experienced in my visit to Newport, from all classes of Citizens. The reflection on the days of difficulty and danger which are past is rendered the more sweet, from a consciousness that they are succeeded by days of uncommon prosperity and security. If we have wisdom to make the best use of the advantages with which we are now favored, we cannot fail, under the just administration of a good Government, to become a great and happy people. The Citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy: a policy worthy of imitation. All possess a like liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights. For happily the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens, in giving it on all occasions their effectual support. It would be inconsistent with the frankness of my character not to avow that I am pleased with your favorable opinion of my Administration, and fervent wishes for my felicity. May the children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy. G. Washington
It is “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance” that is most remembered from these letters, partially because it is communicated by both writers, but I think mostly because it powerfully summarizes what is at stake. The Jews of Newport were denied citizenship. The First Amendment’s protection of religious liberty still was in its embryonic stage in the summer of 1790, as the Bill of Rights would not be ratified for another sixteen months. But what is more significant is what Washington writes additionally: “It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights.” Again, before the ratification of the Bill of Rights, the first president assures a tiny and disenfranchised religious minority that the right of conscience is not a political option to be elected or rejected by a majority, but is part of what makes the new United States distinct among nations. And I believe there is within it an echo of the first Masonic grand lodge’s book of jurisprudence—Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723—that enjoins Freemasons from concerning themselves with each others’ religious convictions, instead urging all Masons to build on the common ground of a shared faith in deity, regardless of how various specific theologies can differ beyond that primary spark of belief.
(Thomas Jefferson’s letter of January 1, 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association in Connecticut arguably is the more famous presidential assurance to a religious congregation of their right to worship. It is here that Jefferson writes of “building a wall of separation between Church and State”—an idea that goes beyond the First Amendment’s prohibitions of a U.S. government-founded church and government interference with religious practices, and that colors many citizens’ understanding of religious freedom to this day.)
Returning to Freemasonry, it was on August 17, 1790 that King David’s Lodge—originally a lodge of Jewish Masons founded in New York City on February 17, 1769—sent a welcoming note to President Washington, the fraternity’s most famous and beloved brother. Moses Seixas, Warden of the Hebrew Congregation in NewPort, was Worshipful Master of King David’s Lodge also, and it is he from whom we hear again:
We the Master, Wardens, and Brethren, of King David’s Lodge, in Newport, Rhode Island with Joyful hearts embrace this Opportunity, to greet you as a Brother and to hail you welcome to Rhode Island. We exult in the thought that as Masonry has always been patronised by the wise, the good, and the great; so hath it stood and ever will stand as its fixtures are on the immutable pillars of faith, hope, and Charity. With unspeakable pleasure we Gratulate you as filling the Presidential Chair with the applause of a numerous and enlightened people, whilst, at the same time, we felicitate ourselves in the honour done the Brotherhood by your many exemplary Virtues and emanations of Goodness proceeding from a heart worthy of possessing the Antient Mysteries of our craft; being persuaded that the wisdom and Grace with which heaven has endowed you, will ever square all your thoughts, words, and actions by the eternal Laws of honour, equity, and truth, so as to promote the advancement of all good works; your own happiness, and that of mankind. Permit us then Illustrious Brother cordially to Salute you with Three times Three and to add your fervent supplications that the Sovereign Architect of the Universe may always encompass you with his holy protection.
Mentions of Masonic thought and practice abound in this brief note, which should surprise no one, but what catches my eye is the writer’s seamless blending of Masonic phrasing with concern for civic integrity. Washington was not the president of Freemasonry; he was chief executive of the new federal government. (An attempt years earlier to elect him Grand Master of Masons for the entire country was unsuccessful, Masonic governance thought best to be kept local, not unlike the Federal system of civil government formed later by the U.S. Constitution.) Again:
Virtues and emanations of Goodness proceeding from a heart worthy of possessing the Antient Mysteries of our craft; being persuaded that the wisdom and Grace with which heaven has endowed you, will ever square all your thoughts, words, and actions by the eternal Laws of honour, equity, and truth, so as to promote the advancement of all good works; your own happiness, and that of mankind.
Reading this, in October 2023, the heart pines. The Masonic Brother’s reply to the lodge bears the same date, suggesting the two notes were delivered by messenger:
Gentlemen, I receive the welcome which you give me to Rhode-Island with pleasure—and I acknowledge my obligations for the flattering expressions of regard contained in your address with grateful sincerity. Being persuaded that a just application of the principles, on which the masonic fraternity is founded, must be promotive of private virtue and public prosperity, I shall always be happy to advance the interests of the Society, and to be considered by them a deserving Brother. My best wishes, Gentlemen, are offered for your individual happiness. Go. Washington
Written by W. Bro. Jay Hochberg WB Hochberg is Tiler and Historian of Publicity Lodge 1000 and Senior Warden of The American Lodge of Research, both in New York City. He is also a Masonic journalist for The Magpie Mason.
Secret History of New York Freemasonry

Secret History of New York Freemasonry

MASONIC HISTORY

The Secret History of
Freemasonry in New York

One Lodge Historian’s Search opened a portal to the past

Have you ever looked in your Lodge’s storage closet and noticed very old Lodge records? Well, Huguenot Lodge No. 46 (Tuckahoe, New York) was cleaning out our storage closet and we came across books that dated to the early 1800s. We started looking at them and noticed several last names that are on street signs throughout Westchester and Bronx Counties and this sent us off on an adventure to discover the early history of our Lodge.

It has amazed us how this process opened up to the history of the American Revolution and not just in our local area. Our Lodge had connections to Nova Scotia, Upstate New York, and even as far away as Sri Lanka! As the Lodge historian, I did a lot of the digging in and after sending multiple texts to our Lodge brothers, I thought, why don’t I just start making videos that will make these people come to life more than random isolated texts?

Our video project began with a trip to the Livingston Library to view our Lodge’s first meeting notes from 1796. The Chancellor Robert R Livingston Masonic Library of Grand Lodge of New York is one of the world’s largest collections of books, artifacts, memorabilia, and archival holdings relating to the subject of Freemasonry. At the library we learned how we went from Westchester Lodge No. 46, to Huguenot Lodge No. 448 and then to Huguenot Lodge No. 46. We also learned many other important facts, such as the names of the founding brothers of the Lodge, where some of them were raised and the fact that two brothers from Royal Arch No. 2 were the Lodge’s first visitors in 1796.

As we started researching the names of these men, the results were stories about the experiences they lived through and some of the amazing people who were related to them. Some are even portrayed in the musical Hamilton and what we learned about our local area and the Revolutionary War was a complete surprise. These men were common folks and others were from the wealthiest, most powerful and influential families of Colonial New York.

Image: With a catalog of 60,000+ books, 37,000 artifacts, and 13,000 photographs and slides, the Livingston Masonic Library is ideal for Masonic research.
We have produced several videos, but the work continues and we hope people enjoy the videos as much as we have enjoyed making them. We also would love to see our work encourage other Lodges to research their history and discover the interesting brothers of their past as well.

Written by: Bro. Lionel Justo, Huguenot Lodge No. 46, Tuckahoe, New York

Bro. Juston is also a Senior Demolay, Yonkers Chapter and an active member of Yorktown, Diamond, Thistle #555, as well as the Scottish Rite, Valley of the Hudson and Knights of St Andrew.