Music for Your Lodge

Sing and Play to Provide a More Complete Experience.

By: Bert Dalton
Grand Musician

Bert Dalton

I recently participated in a Master Mason degree in a really good lodge. The degree was going very well until we reached the Dirge in the second section. In this lodge, the brethren marched around silently while the secretary read the words of the song aloud. Since I was there, I played it on the piano as he read, but sometimes there is no music at all. This might be the practice in other lodges as well.

Admittedly, few lodges have a pianist or organist who can accompany the hymn. But there is nothing wrong with the brethren singing it in unison, with or without accompaniment, and even if it’s a little out of tune and not perfect. There is something about the sound of voices singing together that touches us, and especially the candidate. It’s the humanity of it that gives expression to our connection as brothers. I have yet to hear a great live vocal performance of Pleyel’s Hymn in any lodge. Think of a church congregation singing hymns of praise together. Not everyone is a great singer – it’s the message and the feeling, not the musical perfection. I strongly doubt the guys who built King Soloman’s Temple were great singers.

In my previous position of Music Director of a state-wide children’s dance program, we always included a cast song for all the children to sing together. The majority of the voices were pretty much on key, but there were always a handful of musical strays. It really didn’t matter because just the sound of all those voices singing together always hit the audience right in the heart.

If we are resistant to singing the dirge, it’s probably our egos getting in the way. Let’s remember that it’s about the candidate and not about us. The song itself is really easy to sing, only eight notes, and all within an octave in a very singable range for most voices.

In an effort to encourage the brethren to sing Pleyel’s Hymn, I have put together an accompaniment recording for you to use. All it requires is a CD or MP3 player and one brother to push the start button – easy. There is also a lead sheet with just the melody and chords, perfect for guitar. I bet most lodges have a brother with a guitar!

So c’mon, fellas, let’s put this song back in the degree!

Recordings & Recommendations of Some Music for Your Lodge

There are no set rules about the use of music during lodge meetings. In general, music should not interfere with spoken words. One brother should oversee selecting the music and fading out the selection at the appropriate time. These selections have been used effectively in New Mexico lodges and are recommended for your use. Except for Amazing Grace and Samual Barber’s Adagio For Strings, these pieces were composed by Brothers.

Before Opening

Any selection 1-7. While this is often a time for conviviality, final preparations, and finding a seat, having dignified music playing in the background can set a proper tone of the opening. Consider processing into the Lodge with soft lighting and music.

Attending at the Altar

Finlandia, Amazing Grace, Ave Verum Corpus (use different selections for opening and closing) Amazing Grace (#10) and the instrumental version of Finlandia (#8) should be the right length for the Senior Deacon to complete his duties and return to his station

Preparation Room

Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings (#11) – this selection runs 8 minutes and is followed by Sibelius Andante Festivo (#12) for an additional 4 minutes. If the candidate hasn’t knocked at this point, any selection 1-6 is appropriate. Don’t go to Pleyel’s Hymn (#13).

Processionals, Collecting the Word

Any selection 1-6.

The Dirge (Pleyel’s Hymn)

This is an accompaniment track to be played as the brethren are in funeral procession in the second section of the third degree. There is a brief piano introduction followed by four verses. Also in this folder are pdf files of both the original choral arrangement and a simple lead sheet (melody and chords). There are two on each page so that it can be copied and cut in half. Each brother should have a copy for the procession.

  1. Mozart Serenade 13 in G K 525 Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
  2. Mozart Clarinet Concerto in A K 622 Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
  3. Mozart Adagio in E for Violin Orchestra K 261
  4. Mozart Divertimento in B Flat K 137
  5. Mozart Piano Concerto 26 in D K-537
  6. Mozart_ Horn Concerto #3 In E Flat, K 447
  7. Ave Verum Corpus-Mozart
  8. Finlandia -piano
  9. Finlandia Hymn- Helsinki University Chorus
  10. Amazing Grace
  11. Samuel Barber – Adagio for Strings
  12. Sibelius-Andante Festivo 1
  13. Pleyel’s Hymn

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