Page 23 - MFM March 2016
P. 23

Montana Freemason  March 2016                           Volume 92 Number 2

odes #2 and #3, and #4 (the fourth one is listed in     of the era were apt to do. The turn of the century
Mystic Chord as an Opening or Closing Ode).             saw a dramatic and swift decline in the practice, and
                                                        it is telling that one of the last known usages of one

                                                        of our Masonic Odes was in 1910, when this sort of
                                                        group singing was falling out of fashion.

The last Opening Ode is a bit different. The ode we     Reading the words to our Opening Odes, it is
print as #5 is an Entered Apprentice’s “Opening”        possible to see a similarity between each of these,
Ode. It has been printed and reprinted since at least   and church hymns; that is because they are, in fact,
the 1850s, (for instance, by Robert Macoy in his        derived from Hymnals used in churches. It may
“The Masonic Vocal Manual” of 1859, who sets it to      also explain why they were less popular over time,
the dune of “Dundee”) through the 1860’s (Vol VIII,     as non-religious music became widely available
No. 23 of the “National Freemason” newspaper,           (think of the explosion in music and the technology
the June 8, 1867 edition, p.357), 1870’s (Waldemar      to record and broadcast music in the first decades
Malmene’s “The Freemason’s Hymnal” of 1871,             after 1900), and as Masons endeavored to be less
who sets it to the tune of “Dundee” OR “Peterboro”),    confused by outsiders for participating in a religious
etc.                                                    organization, rather than a fraternity with moral
It was played as late as 1910 to open the Grand
Lodge of New Jersey’s annual communication,                                                After 100 years of our
where it was set to the tune of “Arlington.”                                               Monitor’s history, the
                                                                                           Opening Odes were
Music was, formerly, a staple of public life, where                                        returned. The histories
people gathered in taverns, and sang popular songs,                                        behind the hymns
set to tunes that all were generally familiar with –                                       that were adapted
several of our own popular American songs of the                                           to Masonic use are
Revolutionary Era are simply new words over old                                            interesting. One of our
English tunes. Taverns, or “pubs” as the English                                           Closing Odes (there
call them (the word deriving from roots for public,                                        are Closing Odes!
and publicans, those who catered to the public)                                            – through oversight
were early meeting places for Freemasons, not, as                                          they were accidentally
our current Masonic would-be writers inform us,                                            omitted in the newly
because of their atmosphere, but because they were                                         combined Monitor and
exactly that: public buildings, available for use. And                                     Mnemonics of 2014,
singing was a group activity in these public spaces.                                       the ritual with the red
                                                        cover) was a hymn written by Sarah Flower Adams,
Montana’s Masonic history, from the Civil War           in 1841, called “Part in peace! Is day before us?” – a
Era 1860’s, through the 1890’s, kept the spirit of      fitting subject for Closing a Lodge. The Adams hymn
community singing at gatherings, as Masonic Lodges      appears in several Unitarian Hymn collections.

                                                        In many ways, music was a part of life for the
                                                        Masons in Montana for 50 years. And then, for 100
                                                        years, it wasn’t. There are other instances where
                                                        music was used in Montana Masonry – hymns used
                                                        for old Funeral Services – or is still, such as in our
                                                        second degree “Staircase Lecture,” and memorably
                                                        in the third degree’s “Funeral Dirge,” but, even in
                                                        these instances, it is becoming obsolete.

                                                                                                                           Page 23
   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28