Grand Lodge has always been careful not to give its formal approval to anyone version of the English Craft ritual. But I am sure that of the many versions that exist Emulation Working is the most widely
used, and for many of us it provides a point of reference to which we can turn when the need arises.
Few of us reach 'silver matchbox' standard in the ceremonies that we work, but I hope that every Freemason who takes office in a Lodge strives to perform his ritual work to the best of his ability. This book by Brother Graham Redman will certainly be of immense help to anyone who wishes to work the Emulation Ritual exactly 'according to the book', but it also includes many helpful hints about adapting the strict requirements of the Emulation Ritual to situations which can arise in an ordinary Lodge. Few, if any, Brethren can be better qualified to give guidance on Emulation Working than Brother Redman, who has been a member of the precepting Committee of Emulation Lodge of Improvement for over a quarter of a century.
Pro Grand Master, UGLE.
Emulation Lodge of Improvement
It is now almost two hundred years since the Lodge of Reconciliation was set up in early December, 1813, just before the union of the two rival Grand Lodges on 27th December of that year, to settle, and afterwards to demonstrate, the form of the ritual for the United Grand Lodge of England. The Lodge of Reconciliation ceased working in June, 1816 after the new ritual had been approved at the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge. The Stability Lodge of Instruction, which included several members of the Lodge of Reconciliation amongst its leaders, started working in 1817, but Emulation Lodge of Improvement was not founded until October, 1823. Emulation can, however, claim indirectly almost as close a connection with the Lodge of Reconciliation as can Stability, because many of the Founders of Emulation Lodge of Improvement had been members of the Burlington and the Perseverance Lodges of Instruction. Burlington started working in 1810 (under the Premier or "Moderns" Grand Lodge) and Perseverance. started in 1818. There was a substantial degree of common membership as well as a certain amount of "in and out running" between the two, so that although Butlington was in abeyance for two relatively short periods, the net result was a virtually unbroken line of succession, from the time that the Lodge of Reconciliation settled and demonstrated the ritual of the three degrees, down to the foundation of Emulation.
It was on2nd October, 1823 that the Emulation Lodge of Improvement for Master Masons first met under the sanction of the Lodge of Hope, No.7 (in 1832 renamed Royal York Lodge of Perseverance, No.7). When it started working, Emulation taught the ritual settled by the Lodge of Reconciliation by means of the Lectures, and did not begin regularly to demonstrate the actual ceremonies until some time - the exact date is uncertain - in the 1830s. The Lectures were in those days the normal method of teaching the ritual, and Emulation from the beginning worked the Lectures according to The Grand Stewards' Lodge system, which incorporated the new ritual from 1815; The Grand Stewards' Lodge continued to demonstrate its Lectures at its twice-yearly Public Nights until the latter ceased to be held afrer 1867. Emulation adhered to that system, incorporated changes as they were introduced by The Grand Stewards' Lodge and, most important, has continued to work them regularly up to the present day.
It was not long before, the future of the newly established Lodge of Improvement seemed to be under serious threat. From 1818, the Book of Constitutions provided (as it still does) that every Lodge of Instruction had to be held either under the sanction of a regular Lodge, or by the licence and authority of the Grand Master. Although from 1823, Emulation was sponsored by the Lodge of Hope, in March, 1830 it seemed likely that, following a message sent by the Grand Master, rhe Duke of Sussex, to the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge held at the beginning of the month, the Rules in the Book of Constitutions would be tightened to require the Master or a Past Master of the sanctioning Lodge in future to preside at every meeting of a Lodge of Instruction. At this time the Lodge of Hope was very small, and rather weak. The members of Emulation present at the meeting on 19th March decided to protect their position by submitting a Memorial to the Grand Master, reciting their special circumstances as a general Lodge of Instruction serving many Lodges and not just the sanctioning Lodge, and praying the Grand Master to grant them his special licence for the future.
The Grand Master, through the Grand Secretary, declined to grant such a licence, and the members of Emulation therefore felt it prudent to seek sanction from a stronger Lodge. They chose the Lodge of Unions, to which several members of Emulation then belonged and which has remained the sponsoring Lodge to this day.
Emulation has over the years enjoyed the support of not only many distinguished, but also many dedicated, Freemasons. Among the distinguished have been four Grand Secretaries, three Presidents of the Board of General Purposes, five Grand Directors of Ceremonies and several Provincial Grand Masters. The first of the dedicated was Bro. Peter Gilkes, who joining Emulation in 1825 rapidly became its acknowledged leader till his death in December 1833; it was he who gave Emulation its abiding ethos of always checking the passing error lest it should pass into common currency.
This book is intended as a guide to the ritual and it would therefore be out of place to dwell at length on the history of Emulation Lodge of Improvement. The reader who wishes to know more of its history can do no better fhan to read the late Bro. Colin Dyer's excellent history, "Emulation: a Ritual to Remember" which he wrote for Emulation's Sesquicentenary in 1973.
The Emulation Ritual
For many years the Committee refused to give the Emulation imprimatur to a published ritual, with the result that a number of ritual books purporting to reflect Emulation working came into existence. Ultimately
the most widely used of these was the "Nigerian Ritual" which was published by A Lewis just before the Second World War; it was notable for containing far more explicit rubrics than any ritual book that had gone before, and probably if the War had not s:oncentrated minds and efforts elsewhere, attempts might have been made to suppress it. By the time normality returned after the War the "Nigerian Ritual", which had proved immensely popular with Brethren, had gained too firm a hold for suppression to be a viable option. Eventually it seemed to the Committee that nothing was to be gained by refusing any longer to authorise an official version, and in 1969 the Emulation Ritual was published. Agreement was reached with A Lewis for the publication of the new work, it being apart of the agreement that the publisher would withdraw from sale its other Emulation rituals, such as the Perfect Ceremonies and the Nigerian Ritual.
While it would be presumptuous to claim that Emulation has preserved every word of the 1816 ritual unchanged over the intervening years, successive members of the precepting Committee have ensured that, as far as possible, no changes have crept in through inadvertence. The Committee has, indeed, maintained over the years that it has no authority to vary the ritual that was settled by the Grand Lodge in 1816, and has therefore only made changes in the wording of the ceremonies in response to resolutions of Grand Lodge. Both Grand Lodge, however, and its Board of General Purposes have been notably reluctant to become involved in pronouncing on the detail of Masonic ritual, with the result that the only significant changes formally authorised have involved the penalties. In 1964, the Provincial Grand Master for Norfolk, Bishop Herbert, moved a resolution in Grand Lodge authorising the use of a formula ("ever bearing in mind the traditional penalty on the violation of any of them, that of having the. ..") which made it plain that the penalties in the Obligations werti figurative merely -the so-called "permissive variations", which Emulation demonstrated on the second Friday in each month from 1965 until 1986.
There seems little doubt that many senior Freemasons had hoped that the permissive variations would gain wide currency and eventually supplant the older form of the penalties. In the event, however, Lodges
showed no sign of a rapid shift to the newer form and in 1985 the Board of General Purposes returned to the issue. A more extensive revision of the ceremonies was undertaken, removing the penalties from the obligations and transferring them to other parts of the ritual. A number of demonstrations of the revised ritual were given to Provincial Grand Masters and in Installed Masters Lodges, in London and elsewhere, during the autumn of 1985 and the eatly part of 1986, with a view to informing Masonic opinion. The changes were debated in Grand Lodge at the Quarterly Communication in June, 1986 and were approved by a substantial majority, though to the regret of many. Lodges were given a period of grace before they were obliged to adopt the new forms, and in the meantime the various ritual bodies, including Emulation, had the task of revising their rituals to incorporate the changes Grand Lodge had made.
The result was a new "Revised Edition", which achieved a very heavy sale as Brethren familiarised themselves with the new wordings.
This book sets out to provide as accurate as possible a description of Emulation working - that is the most popular Craft ritual under the English Constitution.
This is not intended as a book to stand alone. It is intended as a supplement to the Emulation Ritual book (Lewis Masonic) and in part as a commentary on it. It does not claim to be exhaustive as a description of Emulation working, for in many, if not most, cases the Emulation Ritual is quite clear as to the procedure that is to be followed. There are, however, many instances where, despite what might be thought a clear description in the rubric of the Ritual, Brethren commonly fail to carry out the work in accordance with Emulation working.
This book therefore sets out, first, to provide a second bearing where difficulties are known to arise. The alternative descriptions provided in this book will render clearer those procedures which most often defeat Brethren. Secondly, by warning of the "black spots" and providing mnemonics or other strategies to help pass through them safely, this book is aimed at making the task of the various Officers of a Lodge easier.
This book is intended to operate on various levels. On one level it is a guide for those Brethren who aspire to work at Emulation Lodge of Improvement - and perhaps gain a silver matchbox. On another level it is a handbook for preceptors of Lodges of Instruction, whether Emulation-recognised or not, as well as for the Directors of Ceremonies who have, often on the afternoon of the meeting itself, to put through their paces the Brethren of those Lodges (all too numerous these days) that have no Lodge of Instruction attached.
Most of all, however, it is intended as a guide for the Brethren of ordinary Lodges while they are working their way up to the Chair and even after, when they may find themselves appointed or elected to one of the "permanent" offices.
The Author have divided this book into three parts. The first consists of introductory material. The second deals with the Officers and their duties when the Emulation system is followed without deviation, that is the duties of the regular Officers of a Lodge as provided for in Rule lO4(a) of the Book of Constitutions EC; it also contains a chapter on the Lectures of Craft Masonry and a chapter on the procedures adopted in Emulation Lodge of Improvement at its regular meetings. The third part deals with the ceremonial duties of the additional Officers also provided for in Rule lO4(a) where, as is the almost invariable custom, a Lodge wishes to appoint them.
Each chapter is, generally, itself divided into two parts, the first dealing with ritual, the second with procedure, where the practice of Emulation may be useful as a guide. Finally, the Author has added two short appendices, covering respectively problems of pronunciation, and techniques for memorising and remembering the ritual.
This volume is not only an invaluable guide to the performance of craft ritual as taught by the Emulation Lodge of Improvement but a guide to the learning and performance of Masonic Ritual as an art and a discipline. For this reason it will be of great value to any Freemason no matter what ritual his lodge works.
Bruno Virgilio Gazzo
editor, PS Review of FM