Who are the Royal Arch Masons?

 

What  has attracted so many Brethren to seek further light in Royal Arch  Masonry?  The Royal Arch Degrees were considered most important in the  early years of Freemasonry and so dogmatic was the Mother Grand Lodge  (from which all Speculative Masonry derives) that in 1813, when the two  grand lodges in England united, a firm and solemn landmark was adopted  and placed in the Articles of Union to guide Masons throughout the world  forever on this matter.  “Pure Ancient Freemasonry consists of but  three degrees, viz., that of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master  Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch.” The  landmark has never been changed and to this day no other degree has been  officially recognized by the Mother Grand Lodge. Every rite, system or  additional degree in Freemasonry cannot confer its degree on a Master  Mason until he has received the Royal Arch Degree.  Naturally, this is  at it should be, because a man is not a Master Mason until he receives  the Master’s Word, and he can only receive it in the Royal Arch.


The Chapter of Royal Arch Masonry consists of four degrees:

Mark Master, Past Master, Most Excellent Master, and Royal Arch Mason.


The Mark Master Degree is believed to have originated as a ceremony of registering a  craftsman’s mark in those years distinguished by operative craft masons  and their temple building.  It was later developed into a full-fledged  degree by the Masonic fraternity as we know it today.  Some scholars say  it was the earliest degree and may predate all others by many  years.  It is highly regarded by students of all Masonry, teaching  lessons that have proven of value in all walks of life.  Some Grand  Lodges place so high an eminence on the Mark Master Degree that they  confine it to the jurisdiction of a separate grand body, the Grand Lodge  of Mark Masters.


The Past Master Degree came into being because originally the degree of Royal Arch was  conferred by the Symbolic (Blue) Lodge only on actual Past  Masters.  This degree was instituted to make it possible for all worthy  Brethren to receive the Royal Arch degree.  The first record of its  conferral is found in 1768 in England. 

 


The Most Excellent Master Degree is a product of American innovation.  It was conferred in a Royal Arch  Chapter as early as 1783 in Middletown, Conn.  It is by far the most  spectacular degree in all of Freemasonry.  It is the only degree that  brings forcibly to our attention the completion and dedication of King  Solomon’s Temple. This is the very idea upon which all Masonic symbolism  has been based. 

 

The Royal Arch Degree is the climax of Ancient Craft Masonry and Masonic Symbolism.  It is  described as “the root and marrow of Freemasonry.”  It is the complete  story of Jewish history during some of its darkest hours.  Jerusalem and  the Holy Temple are destroyed and the people are being held captive as  slaves in Babylon.  Here you will join with some slaves as they are set  free to return home and engage in the noble and glorious work of  rebuilding the city and the Temple of God.  It is during this rebuilding  that they make a discovery that brings to light the greatest treasure  of a Mason- the long lost Master’s Word.


Many  historians have traced the earliest origins of the Royal Arch Degree to  Ireland, late in the 17th century, and in England in 1738.  In 1752,  ambulatory or military warrants for Lodges were introduced.  This was  instrumental in placing the Royal Arch Degree on par with the Master  Mason Degree.  Military Lodges were greatly responsible for planting  Freemasonry in the Colonies and also gave birth to the use of the Mark  and Royal Arch degrees in the “New World.”  Lodge records show that the  Royal Arch Degree was conferred at Fredericksburg No. 4 on December 12,  1753.  George Washington was raised in this lodge a few months prior to  this date.  


The  value of Royal Arch Masonry will be appreciated by all who are exalted  to that most sublime degree, particularly by those who are seeking to  complete their Masonic education.  It reveals the full light of Ancient  Craft Masonry, presents it as a complete system in accordance with the  original plan and justly entitles you to claim the noble name of Master  Mason.