As several of you know, I have been blessed with a rather large family. As I helped my wife and children decorate our house for Christmas, I explained to them once again the Christian meaning of the holiday and the importance of being able to see through the lights, inflatable yard characters, and seasonal capitalism that seem to overcome the mind and senses this time every year.
We are even more fortunate this year, as Christmas Eve also fell on the first day of Hanukkah. This is an event that has happened only four times since Anacostia Lodge came into existence. It gives us, as Masons, an opportunity to speak to our loved ones about a concept that we know very well. While many people in the United States advocate for religious, racial, and cultural tolerance, I like to think that the Masonic approach to handling all our differences is to celebrate them! This is a lesson that can certainly benefit the profane world.
There is another reason to celebrate this week, and that is the recognition of one of our patron saints. St. John the Evangelist’s Day this year is tomorrow (December 27th, 2016). Some Masonic lodges hold special events on this day, such as attending a religious ceremony in their community, while donning their Masonic regalia. I recently came across an article that was first posted on the Midnight Freemasons website, and will share it below for your enjoyment.
If any Brethren, wheresoever disbursed, are in need during this holiday season, I hope they will not be so prideful as to refuse to request relief (in whatever form it may be).
Master, Anacostia Lodge No. 21
St. John the Evangelist’s Day, 1811
by Midnight Freemason Contributor
Steven L. Harrison, 33°, FMLR
On December 27, Freemasonry worldwide celebrates St. John the Evangelist Day. On that day in 1811, a Friday, our Brothers at St. Louis Lodge 111 gathered for a feast and, as a part of the proceedings, sang the following song in celebration of the life of St. John. Especially for that occasion, Lieutenant Joseph Cross of the US Artillery wrote the lyrics to the tune of Lochabor No More, a folk tune claimed by both Scotland and Ireland.
Frederic L. Billon, a former Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Missouri, recorded the words of the song in his extensive Masonic Journal, even though the event took place when he was only ten years old.
Brother Billon’s dedication to history allows us the opportunity to celebrate this year’s St. John’s Day across time, perhaps for the first time since that celebration long ago, with our Brothers from A.L. 5811.
It was simply titled, A Masonic Song:
“O look at Creation! With a Mason’s bright eye,
The Grand Architect’s temple, resplendent in light,
Its wisdom, its strength, and its beauty outvie
The conception of Mortals — o’erpowers their sight —
The circle, whose radiance all space cannot bind
For its centre is Love — almighty in mind;
Our vision is darkened — then bend low the knee,
And in Faith, Hope & Charity ever agree —
Let the cadence of joy, steal soft in the ear,
While mystical love rises warm in each heart;
The bright jewels of virtue we’ll ever revere,
And nine times united, enshrine our grand art:
The Evangelist’s birth let our honors proclaim
In fraternity echo St. John’s brilliant name,
And remember our Brother who justly defined
The chant of affection — a Free Mason’s mind —
Yes, remember our Brother whose birth we now sing,
And remember the axioms he gave to our art;
Tho a Brother in darkness let love still upspring,
Oh! enlighten his soul — and pour oil in his heart —
Tha’ a Brother may err still our Father doth love
And his son will induct to the Grand Lodge above;
As Masons we’re bound to toil with each other,
“Then never forsake an unfortunate Brother.”
As spotless as White is the innocent mind,
As constant as Blue is the soul to the Light,
Whose effulgence ennobles the Free Mason’s mind
When the Red beams of love enrapture the sight
Then think of the angle, whose square is so true.
And the compass which guards and encircles us too;
Let not _____ vice our attraction e’er draw
Subjecting our passions to a Mason’s wise law —
Think not dearest sister, that pride can conspire,
To exclude your loved sex from the Lodges on earth,
We fear the bright charms — which are love’s holy fire
Would mingle our duties — to dissention give birth;
The blush of aurora enkindles the earth
E’re the radiant God sheds His light in the west;
Your virtues and charms in our hearts are a feast
And Masons are born that the fair may be blest,
Our sparkling goblets, let Temperance fill
With the juice of the grape to all Masons who are Free.
Their acceptance we drink with fraternal good will.
And in brotherly love may we ever agree —
May their bosoms be bright, their daughters be fair,
Their passions well governed, their hearts free from care
Their corn, wine and oil in plenty abound,
And their happiness last while the globe shall go round—
Bro. Steve Harrison, 33° is Past Master of Liberty Lodge #31, Liberty, Missouri. He is the editor of the Missouri Freemason magazine, author of the book Freemasonry Crosses the Mississippi, a Fellow of the Missouri Lodge of Research and also its Worshipful Master. He is a dual member of Kearney Lodge #311, St. Joseph Missouri Valley of the Scottish Rite, Liberty York Rite, Moila Shrine and a member and Past Dean of the DeMolay Legion of Honor. Brother Harrison is a regular contributor to the Midnight Freemasons blog as well as several other Masonic publications. His latest books, Freemasons: Tales From the Craft & Freemasons at Oak Island are both available on amazon.com.