by Christopher Hodapp
Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 Wuhan virus shutdown, Masons all over the world have been doing what they can to continue to strengthen the fraternal bonds through electronic means. Most of these have been informal online gatherings, some have been bare bones business meetings, and there have been lots of educational talks, speeches and presentations. The United Grand Lodge of England continues the global observance of the Nine O'Clock Toast to Absent Brethren (#TimeToToast) each night, and Masons all over the world participate in that tradition, or establish their own to better suit their local time zones.
But here's one I haven't seen before now.
Not every Masonic lodge in the world closes their meetings by forming a 'Chain of Union' and singing together, but a vast number do. The song we commonly sing is Brother Robert Burns' Auld Lang Syne, and we actually pride ourselves in knowing the words instead of mangling it like the average tipsy New Year's Eve reveler. For those who've never seen the practice in a lodge, the brethren stand in a circle (generally around the altar), cross their arms and link hands as a symbol of the unbroken chain that binds us all together into one common band of brothers. And even if you've traveled far from home to a foreign land, the lyrics are still usually sung in Burns' distinctive Scots gaelic 'auld tongue.'
Even in Russia.
Grand Master Andrey Bogdanov of the Grand Lodge of Russia (Великая Ложа России) posted a video on Facebook this morning of their brethren linking hands electronically and carrying on this fine tradition from their homes. It was accompanied by the following message:
Brethren,If you have a Facebook account, you can watch the video HERE.
The pandemic may have forced us to close our temples, putting our brotherly ties and everyone else around the world under pressure...
Let us remember that 75 years ago, we’ [were] under pressure, but our courageous people together, defeated Nazis once and for all.
Together, we shall overcome this pandemic, we will conquer our fears...
Let your hand Join our brotherly chain, let your voice join our choir...