The Sign of fidelity



when does a mason come to the sign of fidelity?

The Sign of Fidelity is given during moments calling for an expression of respect. It is required to be given during Work at the Altar including administration of the obligation, during prayer, whenever directly addressed, either collectively or individually, by an officer of higher rank, and whenever addressing the same. It is not required for general declarations, or for ordinary discourse while the Lodge is seated. Candidates do not give this sign while receiving their Degrees.

It is not uncommon to see Brothers at the Sign of Fidelity when a prayer is offered at a dinner or gathering, but this is incorrect. The Sign of Fidelity is only given by Brothers when wearing an Apron.

How can you tell when you are being directly addressed and are therefore required to come to the sign of fidelity?

When you are either engaged individually with one of the officers, or you are part of a discrete group of Brothers that is engaged with one of the officers such as, for example, a group of late-arriving Brothers standing at the Altar. In addition, If you’re standing and an officer says “Brethren,” he is addressing every Brother in the room directly. In all these circumstances, you should come to the Sign of Fidelity. But that’s not all!  Sometimes you may address an officer of higher rank silently. For example, if you rise to be recognized, you should come to the Sign of Fidelity because you are communicating silently to the Master your desire to speak. Similarly, when the Deacons reach the steps of the East prior to communicating the word/password to the Master, they both stand at the Sign of Fidelity before ascending the Master’s station because they need his tacit approval to do so. Other times, the Master may say some things that do not address anyone directly. This includes things such as the ordinary business of Communication and when he declares the Lodge open or closed. In these instances, the Master is effectively “talking to the air” within your earshot, and the Sign of Fidelity is not required. There is one other special case that calls for the Sign of Fidelity to be given: When the Grand Master enters the Lodge room.

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