The Independent Magazine for Freemasons
By: Duncan Moore
In 2004 Supreme Grand Chapter approved Mandatory and Optional changes to the Royal Arch ritual - such major changes not having occurred for many years. This book, then, is one of a few which have been published since those changes were made in the status and proceedings of the order.
To write a book on the Holy Royal Arch is to tread in the steps of many distinguished scholars, who have tried for nearly three hundred years, not always successfully, to unravel its mysteries. Historians generally acknowledge that all history should be revisited from time to time in an attempt to bring it up to date in the light of any modern knowledge. Freemasonry is really no different. We are, for instance, still finding small snippets of information about the Craft which existed prior to the establishment of the Premier Grand Lodge in 1717.
Many Freemasons are mystified as to whether the Royal Arch is part of the Craft as set out in the Second Article of the Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, where it stated that ‘Pure and ancient Masonry consists of three degrees … including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’. So, is it part of the Craft? Is it a separate degree? The Master Mason’s Degree completed? Fortunately, Duncan Moore carefully discusses these puzzling questions in the very first chapter of the book.
The Royal Arch is very much about the history of the Jewish race, from the Tabernacle in the wilderness, via King Solomon’s Temple to the rebuilding of the Temple under Zerubbabel, Haggai and Joshua. The central theme of the Royal Arch is as the title of the book, a search for something lost; that being the true name of God.
The author attempts to show the importance of the Royal Arch within the Masonic ethos and looks at where it fits with Freemasonry in general today. He explains how the degree possibly came to be with us and the biblical legends involved; and following such obscure origins, he describes the known history. Next, he proceeds to examine the symbolism of the items of equipment in a Chapter from the banners to the sceptres; and the the functions of all the officers, together with their regalia and jewels. The ceremonies of Exaltation, Installation of the Principals and the (now obsolete in most of England) ceremony of Passing the Veils are discussed. There are very useful explanations regarding the Royal Arch lectures; and a fascinating chapter as to how the Royal Arch is practiced in other parts of the world.
Any Royal Arch Mason will find the book interesting and I am sure that many will be able to learn how to get the most out of their Chapter membership. Far too often we hear complaints from those who have joined, such as, ‘I’m not really into Chapter’ or ‘I don’t understand what it’s all about’. This is probably because it is very different from the Craft in its structure and ritual. I would also suggest that any Master Mason considering joining the order would be well advised to read the book - it will answer many of the questions or queries he may have before taking the step.
There really is too much ‘fudge’ surrounding the Royal Arch and this book puts to rest many of the anomalies and other imaginative theories often heard, doing so by keeping with interpretations that are generally acceptable and historically valid. Importantly, it is a book that is easy to read and understand. The title of the book suggests we are in search of ‘that which was lost’, hopefully, the reader will find and understand it.
Sadly, Duncan Moore passed to the Grand Lodge above shortly after completing the book and it has been published in memory of him.
Publisher: Lewis Masonic