More than 4,000 brethren from all over the world descended on London's Royal Albert Hall for the Tercentenary celebration on Tuesday, and the crowd included Masons from 136 grand lodges around the globe. The evening included dramatic a presentation that portrayed our history and heritage, and how central both Freemasons and Freemasonry have been to Western history. The celebrity cast featured Derek Jacobi (above, looking a little time-lordy), Sanjeev Bhaskar, and Samantha Bond. The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra provided the musical accompaniment against the backdrop of a colossal 55ft gold Square and Compasses and dramatic light show incorporating the All Seeing Eye. (The entire webcast can be seen HERE - but please see the update at the end of this post.)
After the performance, the Grand Master was processed on to the stage and all the Rulers were seated in their normal thrones. The Deputy Grand Master then read a letter of loyal greetings sent to Her Majesty The Queen and the reply received sending ‘warm good wishes to you all for a most successful event’.
The Grand Master, as Permanent Master of the three Time Immemorial Lodges (Lodge of Antiquity No. 2, Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No.IV, and Lodge of Fortitude and Old Cumberland No.12), then called upon his three Deputy Masters and was presented with the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square and Compasses and the Wren Maul.
Other highlights included the return of the Soane Ark – the Ark of the Masonic Covenant – as the Deputy Grand Master announced that following 30 years in the making, a replica had been made to the original design. This was brought onstage where it was dedicated by the Grand Master.This is being heralded as the largest gathering of Grand Masters in history. There were 130 at a welcoming event on Monday, and my own Grand Master of Indiana, MW Rodney A. Mann, was in one of the behind the scenes photos that popped up (third one from the right - he clearly looked jet-lagged at that moment, or depressed about the exchange rate).
The Goose and Gridiron Lodge No. 1 is the only one of the original four founding lodges still in existence. Today, the lodge at the Goose and Gridiron is now Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2. It was known to be in existence in 1691 and may have been the lodge within the London Masons Company that Elias Ashmole attended in 1682. It became Lodge No. 1 of the premier Grand Lodge in 1717 and until 1760 was known by the name of the tavern at which it met.
UPDATE Nov. 6, 2017 4:25pm:
The ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall has been released publicly today. I will warn you, it is 2 hours 33 minutes long, and the first 14 minutes are a recap of the many charities that the UGLE supports. Additionally, starting at 14:16, every single one of the 136 visiting grand lodge jurisdictions at the event is identified to show the truly worldwide participation. The actual program itself begins with the overture and procession at 00:27:00, if you're wanting to show this at your lodge.
NOTE: The video I posted here on Sunday was removed. However, the webcast can be seen via streaming video at rah300.org
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There is an option to "record and share" the broadcast, so I'm unclear why the link I provided before vanished.
Wish I'd been there.
I'm going to propose that our annual communication sing "Jerusalem" every single year, in honor of our English foundation. It's still the greatest hymn ever, and a thousand voices singing it accompanied by an organ brings me to tears every time.
UPDATE Nov. 6, 2017 4:52pm.
UPDATE Nov. 6, 2017 4:52pm.