All posts by sociallodge86

The Bridge Builder

Please take a moment to read this humble poem and reflect. What bridges have you built in your life?

The Bridge Builder

“An old man, going a lone highway,
Came, at the evening, cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.

The old man crossed in the twilight dim;
The sullen stream had no fear for him;
But he turned, when safe on the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim, near,
“You are wasting strength with building here;
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again will pass this way;
You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide-
Why build you this bridge at the evening tide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head:
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today,
A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building this bridge for him.”

The Bridge Builder is a poem written by Will Allen Dromgoole around the turn of the 20th Century. This poem is used by many fraternal societies to teach the importance of building for future generations. In fact, this poem was extensively used by my college fraternity and I have heard it used during additional lectures of masonic ritual.

Touch of the Master’s Hand

by Myra Brooks Welch, 1926

“Twas battered and scared, and the auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin
But he held it up with a smile.
“What am I bidden, good folks,” he cried.
“Who’ll start the bidding for me?
A dollar, a dollar…now who’ll make it two—
Two dollars, and who’ll make it three?

“Three dollars once, three dollars twice,
Going for three?” …but no!
From the room far back a gray haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow,
Then wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased and the auctioneer
With a voice that was quite and low
Said. “What am I bidden for the old violin?”
And he held it up with the bow.
“A thousand dollars—and who’ll make it three?
Three thousand once, three thousand twice
And going—and gone, “ said he.

The people cheered. but some of them cried,
“We do not quite understand.
What changed its worth?” Swift came the reply:
“The touch of a master’s hand.”
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and torn with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like the old violin.

A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on.
He’s going once, and going twice—
He’s going—and almost gone!
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand,
The worth of a soul, and the change that’s wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.

The Old Charges



1. In the Lodge while constituted.
2. After the Lodge is over and the Brethren not gone.
3. When Brethren meet without strangers, but not in a Lodge formed.
4. In the presence of strangers not Masons.
5. At home and in your neighborhood.
6. Towards a strange Brother.


A Mason is obliged, by his Tenure, to obey the Moral Law, and if he rightly understands the Art he will never be a stupid ATHEIST nor an irreligious LIBERTINE. But though in Ancient Times Masons were charged in every Country to be of the Religion of that Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet is now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is to be GOOD MEN and TRUE, or Men of Honor and Honesty, by whatever denominations or persuasions they may be distinguished; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the means of conciliating true friendship among persons that must have remained at a perpetual distance.

Editorial Note: Every Worshipful Master shall “see to it that the Ancient Charges are read and discussed in his Lodge at least once a year, and as much oftener as may seem necessary in order that the Craft generally become familiar with the foundation of our Ancient Fraternity.” 1932: 257.


A Mason is a peaceable subject to the civil powers, wherever he resides or works, and is never to be concerned in plots and conspiracies against the peace and welfare of the Nation, nor to behave himself undutifully to inferior Magistrates; for as Masonry hath been always injured by war, bloodshed and confusion, so Ancient Kings and Princes have been much disposed to encourage the Craftsmen, because of their peaceableness and loyalty; whereby they practically answered the cavils of the adversaries, and promoted the Honor of the Fraternity, whoever flourished in times of peace. So that if a Brother should be a rebel against the State, he is not to be countenanced in his rebellion; however, he may be pitied as an unhappy man and, if convicted of no other crime, though the loyal Brotherhood must and ought to disown his rebellion, and give no umbrage or ground of political jealousy to the Government for the time being; they cannot expel him from the Lodge and his relation to it remains indefeasible.


A Lodge is a place where Masons assemble and work; hence that assembly, or duly organized Society of Masons, is called a Lodge, and every Brother ought to belong to one, and to be subject to its By-laws and General Regulations. It is either particular or general, and will be best understood by attending it, and by the regulations of the General or Grand Lodge hereunto annexed. In ancient times, no Master or Fellow could be absent from it, especially when warned to appear at it, without incurring a severe censure, until it appeared to the Master and Wardens, that pure necessity hindered him. The persons admitted members of a Lodge must be good and true men, freeborn, and of a mature and discreet age, no bondman, no women, no immoral or scandalous men, but of good report.


All preferment among Masons is grounded upon real worth and personal merit only; that so the Lords may be well served, the Brethren not put to shame, nor the Royal Craft despised; therefore, no Master or Warden is chosen by seniority, but for his merit. It is impossible to describe these things in writing and therefore every Brother must attend in his place and learn them in a way peculiar to this Fraternity: Candidates may nevertheless know, that no Master should take an Apprentice, unless he has sufficient employment for him, and unless he is a perfect Youth, having no maim or defect in his body, that may render him incapable of learning the art of serving his Master’s Lord, and of being made a Brother, and then a Fellow Craft in due time, after he has served a term of years as the custom of the country directs; otherwise qualified, he may arrive to the honor of being a Warden, and then the Master of the Lodge, the Grand Warden, and at length, the Grand Master of the Lodges, according to his merit. No Brother can be a Warden unless he has passed the part of a Fellow Craft; nor a Master until he has acted as a Warden, nor a Grand Warden until he has been Master of a Lodge, nor Grand Master until he has been a Fellow Craft before his election, who is also to be nobly born, or a Gentleman of his best fashion, or some eminent Scholar or some curious Architect, or other Artist, descended of honest parents, and who is singularly great merit in the opinion of the Lodge. These Rulers and Governors, Supreme and Subordinate, of the Ancient Lodge, are to be obeyed in their respective stations by all the Brethren, according to the Old Charges and regulations, with all humility, reverence, love and alacrity.


All Masons shall work honestly on working days, that they may live creditably on Holy days; and the time appointed by the Law of the Land, or confirmed by custom, shall be observed. The most expert of the Fellow-Craftsmen shall be chosen or appointed the Master, or Overseer of the Lord’s work; who is to be called Master by those who work under him. The Craftsmen are to avoid all ill language, and call each other by no disobliging name, but Brother or Fellow; and to behave themselves courteously within and without the Lodge. The Master, knowing himself to be able of cunning, shall undertake the Lord’s Work as reasonably as possible, and truly dispense his goods as if they were his own; nor give more wages to any Brother or Apprentice than he really may deserve.

Both the Master and the Masons receiving their wages justly, shall be faithful to the Lord and honestly finish their work, whether task or journey; not put the work to take that hath been accustomed to journey. None shall discover envy at the prosperity of a Brother, not supplant him, or put him out of his work, if he be capable to finish the same; for no man can finish another’s work so much to the Lord’s’s profit, unless he be thoroughly acquainted with the designs and draughts of him that began it. When a Fellow-Craftsman is chosen Warden of the work under the Master, he shall be true both to Master and Fellows, shall carefully oversee the work in the Master’s absence to the Lords’s profit; and his Brethren shall obey him. All Masons employed shall meekly receive their wages without murmuring or mutiny, and not desert the Master till the work be finished. A younger Brother shall be instructed in working, to prevent spoiling the materials for want of judgment, and for increasing an continuing of Brotherly Love. All the tools used in working shall be approved by the Grand Lodge. No laborer shall be employed in the proper work of Masonry; nor shall Freemasons work with those that are not free without an urgent necessity; nor shall they teach laborers or unaccepted Masons, as they should teach a Brother or a Fellow.



You are not to hold private committees or separate conversations, without leave from the Master, nor talk of anything impertinently nor unseemly, nor interrupt the Master or Warden’s, or any Brother speaking to the Master; nor behave yourself ludicrously or jestingly while the Lodge is engaged in what is serious and solemn; nor use any unbecoming language upon any pretense whatsoever; but to pay due reverence to your Master, Wardens and Fellows, and put them to worship. If any complaint be brought, the Brother found guilty shall stand to the award and determination of the Lodge, who are the proper and competent judges of all such controversies (unless you carry them by appeal to the Grand Lodge), and to whom they ought to be referred, unless Lord’s work be hindered the meanwhile, in which case a particular reference may be made; but you must never go to law about what concerneth Masonry, without an absolute necessity apparent to the Lodge.


You may enjoy yourself with innocent mirth, treating one another according to ability, but avoiding excess, or forcing any Brother to eat or drink beyond his inclination, or hindering him from going when his occasions call him, or doing or saying anything offensive, or that may forbid an easy and free conversation; for that would blast our harmony, and defeat our laudable purposes. Therefore, no private piques or quarrels must be brought within the doors of the Lodges, far less any quarrels about religion, or nations or State, we being only, as Masons, of the Universal Religion above mentioned; we are also of all Nations’, Tongues, Kindred, and Languages and are resolved against all Politicks, as what never yet conducted to the welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will.


You are to salute one another in a courteous manner, as you will be instructed, calling each other Brother, were he not a Mason: for though all Masons are as Brethren upon the same level, yet Masonry takes no honor from a man that he had before; nay, rather it adds to his honor, especially if he has deserved well of the Brotherhood, who must give honor to whom it is due, and avoid ill manners.


You should be cautious in your words and carriage, that the most penetrating stranger should not be able to discover or find out what is not proper to be intimated; and sometimes you may divert a discourse, and manage it prudently for the honor of the Worshipful Fraternity.


You are to act as becomes a moral and wise man; particularly not to let your family, friends and neighbors know the concerns of the Lodge, but wisely to consult your own honor, and that of the Ancient Brotherhood, for reasons not to be mentioned here. You must also consult your health, by not continuing together too late, or too long from home, after Lodge hours are past; and by avoiding of gluttony or drunkenness, that your family be not neglected or injured, nor you disabled from working.


You are cautioned to examine him, in such a manner as prudence shall direct you, that you may not be imposed upon by an ignorant false pretender, whom you are to reject with contempt and derision, and beware of giving him any hints of knowledge. But if you discover him to be a true and genuine Brother, you are to respect him accordingly; and if he is in want, you must relieve him if you can, or direct him how he may be relieved: You must employ him some days, or else recommend him to be employed. But you are not charged to do beyond your ability, only to prefer a poor Brother, and a Good Man and True, before any other people in the same circumstances. Finally, all these charges you are to observe, and also those that shall be communicated unto you in another way; cultivating Brotherly Love, Foundation and Cap-stone, the Cement and Glory of this ancient Fraternity, avoiding all wrangling and quarreling, all slander and backbiting, nor permitting others to slander any honest Brother, but defending his character, and doing him all good offices, so far as is consistent with your honor and safety, and no further. And if any of them do you injury, you must apply to your own or his Lodge, and from thence you may appeal to the Grand Lodge, at the Quarterly Communications, and from thence to the annual Grand Lodge, as has been the ancient laudable conduct of our forefathers in every Nation; never taking a legal course but when the case cannot be otherwise decided, and patiently listening to the honest and friendly advice of Master and Fellows, when they would prevent your going to law with strangers, or would excite you to put a speedy period to all law-suits, that so you may find the affair of Masonry with more alacrity and success; but with respect to Brothers or Fellows at Law, the Master and Brethren should kindly offer their mediation, which ought to be thankfully submitted to be the contending Brethren; and if that submission is impracticable, they must, however, carry on their process of Law-suit, without wrath or rancor (not in the common way), saying or doing nothing which may hinder Brotherly Love, and good offices to be renewed and continued that all may see the benign influence of Masonry, as all true Masons have done from the beginning of the world, and will do to the end of time.


The Regius Manuscript

“The Regius Manuscript”

(A Poem on the Constitutions of Masonry)

“The Regius Manuscript”
(A Poem on the Constitutions of Masonry)

Here begins the first article.

The first article of this geometry: —
The master mason must be fully and surely
Steadfast, trusty and true.
He shall never then be sorry for it.
And pay thy fellows according to the price
Of the materials, you know it well;
And pay them truly, in thy faith,
What they deserve.
And hire no more men
Than they can use.
And refrain from taking bribery either for love or dread
From any other parties,
From lord nor fellow, whatever he be,
From them take thou no manner of fee;
And like a judge, stand upright;
And then you do right to both.
Do this truly wheresoever thou goest
And it shall be greatly to your praise and profit.

Second article

The second article of good masonry,
As ye may hear it here specially,
(Is) that every master, who is a mason,
Must be at the general congregation,
If he has reasonably been told
Where the assembly is to be held.
Then to that meeting he must needs go,
Unless he have a reasonable excuse.
Otherwise unless he be discourteous to that craft
Or be overtaken with falsehood,
Or else sickness has him so strongly
That he cannot come among them;
That is an excuse, good and able,
(Satisfactory) to that assembly, without talk (fiction) (fable)

Third article

The third article is, in truth,
That the master shall take no apprentice
Unless he has good assurance of dwelling
Seven years with him, as I tell you,
To learn his craft, which is profitable;
Within less (time) he may not be able (to learn)
To his lord’s profit, nor to his own
As ye may know with good cause.

Fourth article

The fourth article must be this,
That the master shall look well to himself
That he makes no bondsman (serf) an apprentice,
Nor take him (into the lodge) because of avarice;
Because the lord to whom he is bound,
May fetch the prentice then wheresoever he may go.
If he were taken into the lodge,
It might make much inconvenience there,
And in such a case it might befall
That it might grieve some or all.
For all the masons that are there
Will stand together in whole fellowship.
If such a person would be in the craft,
One could tell of various inconveniences.
For more ease, then, and in honesty,
Take an apprentice of higher degree.
It is found written in old times
That the apprentice should be of gentle state;
And so sometimes the blood of great lords
Took this geometry; that is full well.

Fifth article

The fifth article is very good,
Inasmuch as the apprentice is of lawful blood;
(perhaps lay or low blood)
The master shall not, for any advantage (or profit)
Take any apprentice that is deformed;
This is to mean, as ye may hear,
That he have his limbs all whole together;
It would be a great shame to the craft
To take in a halt or lame man,
For an imperfect man of such blood
Would do the craft but little good.
Thus ye may know, everyone,
The craft wants to have a mighty man;
A maimed man, he has no might,
Ye may know it long before night.

Sixth article

The sixth article ye can not miss;
That the master should do the lord no prejudice,
To take from the lord for his apprentice
Even as much as his fellows do, in all ways.
For in that craft they are fully perfect,
So is not he, ye can see it.
Also, it were against good reason,
To take his hire, as his fellows do.
This same article, in this case,
Judgeth the apprentice to take less
Than his fellows, who are fully perfect.
In various matters, it can requite
The master may his apprentice so inform,
That his hire may increase quite early,
And, before his term come to an end,
His hire may well amend.

Seventh article

The seventh article that is now here,
Will tell you well, all together,
That no master, for favor nor for dread,
Shall either clothe or feed a thief.
Of thieves, he shall harbor nary a one,
Nor him, who has killed a man,
Nor the like who hath a feeble name,
Lest it should bring the craft to shame.

Eighth article

The eighth article shows you so,
That the master may well do this;
If he has any man of ability (“in the trade” or craft)
And he is not even as perfect as he should be,
He may change him immediately
And take for him a better man.
Such a man, through recklessness,
Might (could) do the craft short (little) worship.

Ninth article

The ninth article shows full well
That the master must be both wise and valiant (strong).
That he must not undertake any work
Unless he can do it and finish it;
And that it should be to the lord’s profit also,
And to his craft, wheresoever he go;
And that the ground be well taken, (foundations prepared)
So that it neither moves (flee, flow) nor cracks.

Tenth article

The tenth article is to make known
Among the craft, to high and low,
That no master shall supplant another,
But (all) shall be together as sister and brother
In this zealous craft, all and some,
Who long (desire) to be a master mason.
Nor shall he supplant any other man
Who has taken a work upon himself,
In pain thereof (penalty) that is so strong
It weighs (comes to) no less than ten pounds,
Unless he be found guilty
Who first took the work on hand;
For no man in masonry
Shall supplant another certainly,
Unless the work is so done
That it will come to naught;
Then may a mason request that work
In order to save it for the profit of the lord;
Unless such a case occurs,
No mason shall meddle with it.
For in truth, he who begins the ground,
If he is a good and sound mason,
He has it securely in his mind
(the intention) to bring the work completely to a good end.

Eleventh article

The eleventh article tells thee
That it is both fair and free;
For it teaches, by its might
That no mason should work at night
Unless it be in the practicing of knowledge,
If that can better the work.

Twelfth article

The twelfth article is of high worth
To every mason, wheresoever he be;
He shall not depreciate his fellow’s work,
If he desires to preserve his (own) worth;
He should commend it with honest words,
According to the knowledge that God sent the deed,
However thou should better it by all that thou can
Between you both without dispute.

Thirteenth article

The thirteenth article, so God save me,
Is: if a master has an apprentice,
Then he should teach him completely
And explain to him measurable points,
So that he may know the craft ably,
Wheresoever he goes under the sun.

Fourteenth article

The fourteenth article by good reason
Shows the master how he shall do:
He shall take no apprentice
Without taking care in various ways
That the apprentice can, within his term
Learn from him the various points.

Fifteenth article

The fifteenth article makes an end.
And to the master it is a friend
To teach him so: that for no man
Shall he maintain his fellows in their sin,
For any profit that he might gain;
Nor suffer them to make false oaths,
For dread of their souls’ sake;
Lest it should bring the craft to shame,
And himself to much blame.

Hunter, Frederick M. The Regius Manuscript.