The Masonic Ritual
Ever wonder how our cumbersome ritual came to be? It was Brother William Preston, an esteemed Masonic scholar of the 18th century who formalized what we repeat daily in Masonic lodges all over the world. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland on July 28, 1742 the son of a successful writer and poet, young William could recite Greek and Latin by the age of four and when he was merely six years old entered high school. Upon finishing college he was apprenticed to a prominent printer where he had access to numerous written materials. He had a voracious appetite for scholarly works and was widely read in the classics of the day. He became a writer himself and published several works which quickly gained wide recognition. Because of his education and reputation he became employed by the King’s printer after moving to London at the age of eighteen. It was there that William Preston was introduced to Masonry. He was initiated an Entered Apprentice Mason on April 20, 1763 at the age of 21. During the late 18th century Masonry was not “standardized” and it was not unusual for each lodge to conduct their affairs in decidedly different ways. Preston’s thirst for knowledge influenced him to become a member of several lodges, Master of most, and he became passionate about developing consistency in Masonic ritual. He managed to become employed as the Grand Secretary’s assistant in 1769 and by 1772 had organized and published the first edition of “Illustrations of Masonry.” He was 30 years old. By 1775 he had completed the lectures for all three degrees which were received with great enthusiasm and have remained virtually unchanged since. So mote it be.
Michael Woodruff, PM
Senior Warden, Benicia Lodge UD