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Education Corner: Ritual of the GLOH

By June 26, 2020November 30th, 2020No Comments

The Lodges in Ohio which formed the Grand Lodge in 1808 used the Rituals of the respective Grand Lodges by which they had been chartered. Consequently, the ritualistic work varied with the number of Lodges. Our Grand Lodge proceedings are fairly silent on the subject of Ritual until 1834 when Samuel Reed, the Master of Nova Caesarea Harmony Lodge No.2, started a movement in the Grand Lodge to make our ritualistic work uniform, using the Ritual created by Thomas Smith Webb.

During this time, many authors wrote down their version of Masonic Ritual and made a living selling printed copies or teaching this ‘official’ or ‘ancient’ Ritual to Lodges. It became enough of an issue that in 1856 the Grand Lodge passed a resolution forbidding unauthorized persons to visit Masonic Lodges in Ohio and give instructions in Freemasonry for pay. You can find many of these unauthorized Rituals online, in libraries, or antique shops. It is entirely possible that some of these Rituals are in your own Lodge Library. 

In 1891, a written Ritual was prepared and written by Brother J. W. Iredell, Jr., and adopted by the Grand Lodge as the official Ritual of the Grand Lodge of Ohio. With very few minor changes, this is the ritual in use in Ohio to this day.

MWB Hoffman’s program tells part of the story of our Ritual. For more of the story, the address given by MWB Andrews to the Grand Lodge in 1893 available in Grandview under Grand lodge Proceedings helps fill in some of the gaps. His address is a wealth of information that could be developed into educational programs, including the development of our relationship with Order of Eastern Star, a decision on Ritual at special meetings, further discussion of whether Masons may be involved in the sale of liquor, and our struggle with Cerneau and clandestine Masonry are discussed. As you can imagine, establishing a uniform Ohio Ritual meant that every one of the five hundred Lodges needed to make changes in order to conform to this new Ritual. How Grand Lodge responded to these challenges is told in this address and helps give a complete picture.

Like many things in Masonry, the story of our Ritual is much more interesting and complicated than most realize. In our Grand View resources you can start discovering these stories for yourself.