The following notes come from Brother Tom Thornton, Cincinnati No. 3, Morristown, New Jersey, Masonic Organist and Collector of old tools specializing in hand cranked grindstones!
Playing music for Masonic lodge - General
The organist is allowed to select and ( with one exception ) play what
and when he decides. The easiest way to understand when and what to
play is to divide the meetings into small sections and have music
chosen ,and rehearsed for each section.
When the musician understands the form of the sections he can tell what
is about to happen and select his music accordingly.
For this purpose I have divided the
Meeting as follows;
Open & Closing
The first rule is you can play anytime somebody is moving,
never while somebody is speaking
However dont get in the habit of playing all the time, silence is also
needed at times.
On the following pages is the outline I use for playing a meeting. The
selections are about correct in length, but it still depands on how fast
or slow the person is moving, so you have to be ready to fast fade or
extend the music cause it never exactly fits.
The current music I play is noted, but that can change with the weather.
It has been selected mainly because the length of the music about fits
what is going on. You get to choose your own . Pick what you like and
can play comfortably. and just write it over mine. .
The only special area is the MM degree. You have to play 3 verses of
PLEYEL'S HYMN during the procession and brothers will sing,
then play last verse when circle is formed.
When visitors enter I use several small marches, Longest Day, or Wait
For the Wagon to bring them in with. You
just need a few quick short pieces to fill the small spots.
Sometimes you may get a sudden request for the Star Spangled Banner
or happy Birthday so it helps to have
those two ready . I also carry, America & , America The beautiful
However I have heard some organists say simply
" I'm not prepared to play that :" so use that phrase if needed.....
On the following pages are the notes as I use them, you need to get
acquainted with the various officers positions pretty quickly so you
can tell who is about to move. For starters the Jr deacon is by the
entrance door, the Jr & Sr Masters of ceremonies are in the west in
front of the Sr. Warden. The Sr Deacon is in the east
to the left of the WM ( as you look at him from the organ) .
Regarding my notes, I have to read everything so I have my music book
set so I just turn the pages to the next
happening.. and I'm ready to play when the person starts moving. .
Opening, (prompt; three knocks by Master)
Jr deacon checks doors, - Racing With Moon or Longest Day
Tyler enters - Mack The Knife
Tyler leaves - Hi Ho Hi Ho Off to Work I go
Deacons take the word - Happy Wanderer & Me & My Shadow
Sr deacon attends alter - Stouthearted Men or Rangers march
Closing ( prompt 'Brother secretary is your desk clear ? )
Long form, word to west - Road To Mandalay
Sr Deacon attend alter - How great Thou Art or Auld Lang Syne
Box to Wardens - Road To Mandalay
During voting - whatever
Box back to master - Around The World in 80 days
Degree work, ( Prompt: Brother master of ceremonies, retire and
Sr Master Of Ceremonies Leaves - Hi Ho, Off to Work I Go
Sr Master of ceremonies Returns - Road To Mandalay
Both Masters of ceremonies leave - Hi Ho Off to Work I Go
Prompt: 3 knocks .Cand enters - silence
(EA Only "Conduct to center for prayer" - Sweet Hour of Prayer)
While Forming procession - silence
Procession to WM. - Amazing grace
Perambulation , must leave room for Chaplains part (Talk to Chaplain , find out where he will start)
EA once around, fade at 1st knock in west - Battle Hymn of Republic
FC twice around, fade at 2nd knock in west - Battle Hymn of Republic (Medium)
MM three around, fade at 2nd knock in west - Battle Hymn of Republic,
From Jr Warden to Sr Warden - Rock of Ages
From Sr Warden to WM - Faith of Our Fathers
WM. to Sr Warden - Navy Hymn (be quick
After Obligation. to Jw, Sw, WM - May The Good Lord Bless & keep You
(fade & stop at each station then continue)
Escort out - When You Walk Thru The Storm
(fade & stop while saluting then continue)
Second section, EA & FC no music
Second section MM
When Marshall says forward - Holy Holy
soft until Marshall passes West
Then PLEYEL'S HYMN, three verses, brothers should sing-
stop hard at end of third verse-
Then Holy Holy, softly until circle is formed,
Then PLEYEL'S HYMN (loud and clear) one verse , then